Music Teacher Tip #35:
Teaching in a school is challenging. Sometimes the stress can be overwhelming. When I was first teaching I would feel physically ill every Sunday night anticipating the dread of Monday morning. I began calling it "Sunday Syndrome."
Fortunately, it got better. I got better and my Sunday Syndrome got better too.
If you find yourself so stressed out that you too have Sunday Syndrome, here are some tips to help.
1. As hard as it is, try not to take work home on the weekend. Carve out time to be with people who remind you to have a life outside of teaching. Have fun! Eat good food, rest, and walk in nature. Breathe some fresh air!
2. DO NOT check work email during non-working hours. Even if it means you have to stay at school late or go in early, DO NOT check work email at home. Whatever it is can wait.
3. If you are dealing with a challenge bigger than you are capable of handling on your own, consult a mentor or an administrator. That is why they are paid the big bucks. Don't put it off until a big situation becomes bigger and impossible to manage. You are not alone.
4. If you are sick, stay home and get better. No one wants your germs anyway.
5. If you are so stressed you are ill, that is the same thing. Stay home and get well. See a doctor if needed. You are not required to disclose the type of illness you have to anyone. It is enough to say you are sick and follow your school's procedure for absences.
6. Always have sub plans ready to go in case of illness or emergency. The last thing you should worry about in either situation is sub plans.
7. When at work, hold your planning time as sacred. Do your best to stay on schedule. Do your planning, emails, phone calls, etc. then so that you can leave all of it at school every day and every weekend. You know... like normal people.
8. Do your best to avoid negative people at work. I once worked at a school where the entire elective team had lunch together daily. It was always a time to complain and each lunch was full of negative energy. I decided to eat with the first graders instead. It was way more fun and way better for my mental health. You can't be sad eating with first graders.
9. Incorporate calming activities into your lessons. (See my Music Teacher Tip #1 for more details.)
10. Get good at classroom management. Remember that in order to run a peaceful and well-managed classroom, consistency is key. You will have to work harder at the beginning to establish rules and enforce consequences, but once the kids see that you will always follow through, they will improve. Eventually, the work of managing your classroom will get easier. Don't get me wrong, at some schools it's never easy, but it will get better.
11. If you detect a pattern of inappropriate behavior with particular students, consult a counselor, school psychologist, or even another teacher with whom the student has a relationship. Find out if the student has special needs that you need to meet. Do they have a behavior plan? Is the parent/guardian aware? Again, don't feel like you have to solve the issue on your own. If you're struggling, you're likely not the only one.
12. Give yourself grace. You are doing the best you can and you do not have to be perfect. I've yet to meet a teacher who is. When you need help, reach out. There is always someone willing to lend a hand.
Happy teaching! Hang in there! ❤️🎶
Disclaimer: It turns out that a lot of my Sunday Syndrome was undiagnosed clinical anxiety disorder. If you are so stressed you are having trouble eating or sleeping OR you are eating and sleeping too much, please go to the doctor. No one should suffer like I did. It took until my 30s for a doctor to help diagnose me so that I could feel better. Stress is a normal part of teaching, but it shouldn't consume the rest of your life.