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Teacher (Information) Overload: How to Deal with the Stress


Teachers face unprecedented stress in our modern schools, and little of this stress results from changes in the basic human nature of our students. The stress stems from our jobs, not our students.

Because this stress is job related, and because teachers need jobs, the sense of being trapped and unable to take charge of our lives increases.

One source of this stress is information/ data overload. And, the rush to increase students' scores on high-stakes tests only adds to this pressure.

But, there are ways for you to overcome the feeling of overload.

Do

  • Take control
  • Develop an information management strategy that works for you
  • Filter information, and don't pay attention to trivia
  • Filter out jargon and ideology (Treat these as the educational equivalent of Spam)
  • Accept that not all available data can be examined prior to making a decision
  • Trust your instincts and your intuition
  • Attempt to recognize quality data

Don't

  • Let information, grading papers and high-stakes testing take control of you by forcing you to work 50 to 70 hours per week
  • Attempt to examine every piece of data available
  • Focus on things beyond your control
  • Try to break education down into state high-stakes test objectives, analyzed by student past performance

You cannot control many of life's (or educations situations), but you can control how you react to these situations.

There are many ways that you can relax, and decrease the stressful demands of your job.

But, it is helpful to talk about these issues with a friend or a counselor.

Talking to another person allows you to place the idiocy of the bureaucracies that "ping-pong smack" education "back and fro, to and forth." The objective vantage point of those who you share your concerns with help you discover that the lunacy is not "you," but the "system."

Also, when you understand that the issues do not occur because of some flaw in you, but are inherent in all bureaucratic jobs.

It is a privilege to teach, and count yourself as one of the lucky few. But, just as any number of forces can destroy the tranquility of a tropical paradise; forces can wreck havoc in education too.

Dealing with information overload is inevitable, but also manageable. Just as the big fish does not have to bite on the hook-impaled worm; neither do you have to take information overload as a personal, out-to-get-you issue, either.