Teacher Tips for Relieving Anxiety

Teachers sometimes experience high levels of stress. Of course, all professionals do to some degree. Usually it doesn’t last long but when it does, it should be addressed. It can be a small deal or something that prevents you from relaxing at work or at home. Everyone has some measure of anxiety. When you are anxious, it is difficult to relax and when you can’t relax it can produce ill side effects. Mental health treatment centers are best avoided since you have to be at work each morning teaching your students! I am a big proponent of “mental hygiene” to keep one mellow.  For me that includes a fairly regular habit of relaxation. I try to get in 10-20 minutes a day in addition to exercise. Here are some healthy tips my doctor gave me for coping with everyday anxiety. If you are not able to relax, talk to your doctor:

Control your worry. Make a time to worry each day for 30 minutes. Try not to dwell on what “might” happen but rather focus on what is happening. Then let go of the worry and go on with your day.

Learn ways to relax. These may include yoga or deep breathing.

Use muscle relaxation.

Exercise.

Get plenty of sleep.

Avoid alcohol and drug abuse.

Limit caffeine to 1-2 cups of coffee a day.

Steps to deep breathing: 1) Lie down on a flat surface. 2) Place one hand on your stomach, just above your navel. Place the other hand on your chest. 3) Breathe in slowly and try to make your stomach rise a little.

Meditation and relaxation has medical healing benefits just like exercise. These are some tips for coping with anxiety.

Activate Prior Knowledge

The step in teaching where you should talk about what students already know to make a connection.

IAB_CL1_PX01572I tell my kids they should love this part of the lesson because ?prior knowledge? means basically: ?Stuff they already know.? All I am doing here is getting them to fix on something they understand. I will use this quickly to bridge to what they have yet to learn. For example, if I am doing a lesson to 8th graders on consumer documents I can explain to them how skateboards come with a warranty.

I can get them very involved in sharing stories of ?prior knowledge? about pasts that have broken and got replaced within the terms of the warranty. Then I can bridge from that to the lesson objective which might be analyzing the various terms of a consumer document. The learning objective can be restated throughout the lesson reminding the students that each thing we are doing has a place in getting towards that learning objective. I thoroughly enjoy the elaboration from kids during ?APK? or activate prior knowledge. They have a lot of enthusiasm in telling me what they know. I think the ?dynamite? advice for this step would be to pick an APK subject that they know and enjoy. Getting kids comfortable at the beginning of the lesson through prior knowledge is a dynamite tool. Here are some sample lessons.

Creative Teaching Must Return

ccss-sbacIt doesn’t have to reinvent the wheel. It lives in the minds of those who want to teach kids more effectively. You can do this browsing the shelves at a teacher store and you can also do it by sitting in a jacuzzi and thinking about solutions with an open mind. Most of us have accumulated massive piles of teaching materials that we rarely use. Most of us also use the curriculum our district browsed and found and told us was the “holy” usage material. I am no knocking that by the way, I treasure my pacing guide handed down from the district office.

peanuts-comic-1ixwv2b-e1365293844540The challenges of Common Core in 2014-2015 are real. They are daunting on some levels. The time of rote delivery of uniform materials is long gone. We are the goal setters, we are the guides. Time online practicing emulation tests is non-negotiable. Beyond that, we must come up with daily routines that embed problem solving IN GROUPS. An illustration might be the way most people do their actual work in our world. Do policemen do work in a vacuum? Are they lone rangers? No. The same is true for butchers, bakers, and candlestick makers. No man is an island. The way there is not well lit but one thing is sure, the most creative teachers have the greatest assets. Follow them, be them.

Higher Order Thinking

Psychology is about critical thinking, evaluating situations and conducting mental experiments whose results can then be translated to written communication in the form of research papers, journal articles and reports. Students who do not succeed in one or more of these aspects of psychology may not have been instructed in higher order thinking.

Higher order thinking helps students think more creatively when solving problems. In addition, students who are provided higher order thinking tools are more critical and make better decisions than those who do not. Independent consulting providers provide assistance to educators to help them create explanatory modeling activities that help students develop reasoning activity, often through an online source. Psychology instructors who visit this website can obtain exercises and activities designed to teach students higher order thinking.

Activities and Exercises

The types of activities and exercises found on the websites include those that help students:

Justify the decisions or course of action taken by thoroughly explaining those actions;
Generate, invent and design new ideas and products while also explaining their plan and the circumstances that triggered the idea;
Divide information into parts in order to understand all aspects of the problem;
Compare and organize those parts in order to develop solutions;
Implement, carry out or execute solutions;
Develop the ability to recall information, recognize similarities and apply solutions.

Concept of Higher Order Thinking

Simple thinking skills involve learning simple facts and recall, but in a 1956 publication entitled “Bloom’s Taxonomy of Educational Objectives,” the concept of higher order thinking skills was introduced. Since that time, many forms of education reform have used higher order thinking methods, including standards-based mathematics and whole language. Many standard based assessments now use open-response questions that require a student to use higher order analysis and writing. Some have eliminated multiple choice questions as these do not require a student to use critical thinking skills to respond, but simply demonstrate they have memorized information.

Although there is a place for traditional learning methods, including a focus on the facts and simple memorization, especially among students who are behind academically, there is growing evidence that higher order thinking puts students at an advantage, especially those who are working in the field of psychology, as those who enter psychological based professions must use higher order thinking to address the needs of those for which they are providing services.

Ten Ways to Say Good Job!

As teachers we often focus on the constructive words like “change that and turn it in again.” We are often guilty of not building our students up enough. Here are just ten ways to say good job. I invite you to put your ideas in the comments. Thanks for being positive with learners!

“1. Rock on! 2. That’s awesome! 3. I can tell you’ve been practicing. 4. That’s very colorful. 5. I like how neatly you’re working. 6. You really followed directions. 7. Way to show what you can do! 8. Bravo! 9. That’s fantastic. 10. Great work”.

The W.I.N. Philosophy

A memorable post written Aug 17, 2008. I bring it back once in a while because the W.I.N. philosophy is so valuable to me. I like to share it.

Well, I start back teaching tomorrow. It’s been an incredible summer with a trip to Vegas, to Magic Mountain, and several other small awesome places that my wife and I adore. My kids were out by the pool all summer which was really gratifying to watch. It makes all the hard work really worth it when you see your kids lost in the fun of it.

I’m going back to work (well, I did teach summer school for 6 weeks so it’s not like I was 100% off) tomorrow with a mantra and the W.I.N. philosophy. It stands for “What’s Important Now.” In teaching one is constantly bombarded with new demands and deadlines and sometimes it gets downright overwhelming. By focusing on the “WIN,” you are more effective over the course of a year. This could apply to anyone anywhere but it really helps me as a teacher. I use it in my blogging work as well.

A Couple of My Ideas for Change In Education

IMG_0045After the reckless voices have waned, people are likely to sit down and discuss real change in education. I think this change will be radical in some ways but in others it will contain common sense that has been a long time coming. The standardized test needs to go away. I think No Child Left Behind gave us teachers a clear and solid goal and encouraged us to teach to the test. We tried to include all students in this process but as you know, not every kid is a multiple choice test taking success. Like millions of teachers, I got used to this goal however and it became a lighthouse, a navigation device telling me how my kids were doing. It did not guide me to the finer arts like music and art and I had to get creative to get those taught. Furthermore, I even felt at risk of being reprimanded at times when I would incorporate these into the curriculum. Parents are realizing now that they want more than a test for their kids. I am only surprised that the parent trigger law and Parent Revolution don’t measure a school on more than just a test. Continue reading “A Couple of My Ideas for Change In Education”

The Challenge of Making Your Not-so-Favorites Your Favorites

20130401-170518.jpgThere are 30 some odd kids in your class as a teacher. It is so easy to gravitate and focus on the needs of your favorites. They are as such because they fit in to your paradigm. Disclaimer: No teacher should have “favorites” but I am using the term to simply make a point we always need to keep an open mind to all our students. For the purposes of this article, by “favorite” I simply mean ones that are easier to understand and reach. That is m goal with every student. Thank you for understanding my disclaimer. Favorites are natural to your style of teaching and personality. You “get” them and so they often are easier to reach and teach. These are not the students that challenge you to be great. I challenge you to pay more attention to the difficult ones, those who are more difficult to understand. When you reach them, it’s a huge win for you and they.

We shun things we aren’t familiar with. A kid may seem annoying on purpose when her/him is only operating under their home paradigm. Not only can you offer them academic help but they can teach you more about how students perceive and survive in the world. Ring any bells? Please comment.

It is one of my top values for my blog here to host comments. I promise to give you my posts until my dying day but I covet YOUR comments more. Teachers, parents, administrators, edubloggers, and anyone interested. PLEASE leave me a comment. I promise to reply.