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Quick Ideas For Managing Stress as a Special Ed Teacher

written by: Jennifer Fidalgo • edited by: Elizabeth Stannard Gromisch • updated: 9/4/2012

Managing stress is not as tough as it often seems to be. Special education teachers must analyze their present situation and try their best to minimize the stress level. Find some quick tips for effective stress management in and out of the classroom.

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    It's Important to Deal With Stress

    Often the regular behavioral and learning needs make the occupation of teaching a fairly taxing job. But not all strains related to the job of teaching can be described as negative. Stress levels that serve to reduce the motivation of a teacher can have disastrous effects. It may lead the teacher to be completely alienated from the workplace. School Administration then often witness higher levels of absenteeism and higher attrition rate.

    If research is to be believed, this is the case with most of the special ed teachers in today's classrooms. When they experience high levels of stress, it is likely that they will leave teaching children with special needs or will leave the education field entirely.

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    Schools as Bureaucratic Organizations

    Most schools nowadays remain to be bureaucratic organizations. In these cases the teachers have the least amount of control over their environments and risk being isolated from the rest of the world. Due to excessive pressure on being accountable for their performance, some teachers will understandably feel emotionally stressed out. Furthermore, the lack of self-sufficiency and task overload makes it impossible for them to bear the stress in the job.

    The focus of the teachers is always to help out the students, but in case of students with disabilities, the stress becomes even more as the former cannot leave their task at any moment at the doorstep. Special educators are those professionals who are or should remain extremely committed to their work

    With the passage of time special educators have come across several ways that will help them reduce stress levels. Let’s closely examine some of the stress management techniques for special educators:

    Setting realistic expectations -- The first major step that the special educators are expected to take for themselves to reduce stress levels is setting realistic expectations. If you are serving the role of a special education teacher, you must have been taught how to identify the individual needs of your students during the pre-service education. Well, at times of stress you simply need to bring that forth and develop individualized programs for the students with special needs who really need your help and guidance.

    Sometimes this expectation, though commendable, is not possible. To manage the diverse needs of disabled students, often teachers are required to perform exceptionally well in areas like behavior management, collaboration, instructional management, and last but not the least, paperwork completion. Overall, as a special education instructor you need to set expectations about what you can achieve with your students in real terms and then work on it further.

    Don’t set high expectations from your boss – If you are a special educator and hope that the district special education director will praise you for your hard work, you may get disheartened sooner or later or become a victim of stress. The best that you can do is keep a record of the progress of your disabled students and use it as a reference of your work to be shared with others.

    Increasing your efficacy – Though an age-old method, it is something that has helped special educators for decades. Having confidence in yourself is believed to be a means of reducing stress levels in any occupation, and for special educators it holds true by every measure. In this case, observing your students’ growth and progress may also help you to realize your potential to a greater extent and thereby increase your efficacy as well.

    Maintaining a balance between your professional and personal life – This is a vital step to manage stress. Often it is seen that special educators carry their work-life stress back home. Becoming closely involved with the students hardly leaves the teachers any space for their personal life and they become frustrated within a short span of time. In this case, mental homework is necessary to bring about a balance in life.

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    Final Tips For Special Educators - Analyze Your Potential

    Managing stress is not alwyas as tough as it seems to be. Special educators must analyze their present situation and work on it to reduce stress levels and live life to the fullest. This is only possible once they have analyzed their potential well and think as a teacher who has both a professional and a personal life.

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