On How To Avoid Stress and Remain A Teacher
First of all, I’d like to thank you for publishing my pupils’
essays in issue No. 27–28 2004. It was quite an unexpected surprise for us this summer.
This time I’m sending my own article based on the speech which I
gave to the English teachers at our regular August conference.
I’ve made up my mind to send this material to a larger audience,
English teachers all over Russia, hoping that I might be able to support my dear
colleagues if not financially, at least morally on the eve of a new year.
As a teacher, I had to attend a lot of teachers’ conferences and
listen to numerous speeches made by different specialists in education. All these people
spoke on serious matters, such as the young generation’s state of health and what not.
After listening to talks of this kind I personally felt frustrated and
bored, though I understand that the speakers had very noble aims in mind, that is to give
teachers guidelines for the next school year.
On my way home I kept saying to myself, “Oh, my God! It’s the same
thing again! I must do a thousand things at a time for the low salary I get. How can I get
inspired if the amount of work I’ll have to do doesn’t in the least correspond to the
salary I get. Strange as it may seem, none of our esteemed superiors is bothered by this
I believe that the majority of teachers had just the same feelings,
especially those who devoted many years of their lives to schooling.
Recalling my emotions caused by endless instructions from city
educational authorities last year, I for my part decided to change this regular practice
myself. I delivered a speech of inspirational character, so as to encourage myself and my
colleagues at our annual teachers’ conference held in August.
We, human beings, live according to our inner rules, so-called values,
which psychologists divide into genuine and impostor ones. In reality we live our lives
thinking little of these values and rules. We make decisions, solve problems, suffer pains
or, vice versa, feel happy. But if we single out the values which help us endure hardship
without great loss, we’ll be able to work out a new approach to our lives, to remain
healthy, active, and avoid all impending nervous break-downs.
I’d like to attract your attention to two values which, in my
opinion, are of vital importance for any person irrespective of his/her upbringing, social
status, age, sex, origin. They are family and forgiveness. The following statistics are
not a surprise for anyone. Teachers are considered to be, for the most part, bad mothers,
a small percentage of them have strong families, many are single, and still more are
divorced. Sad statistics, aren’t they? Are any changes for the better awaiting us?
Nothing of the kind. However, taking full responsibility for everything that happens to
us, we ourselves are able to change this negative data for the better.
Once a woman said to me, “I’m not a woman, I’m a teacher”. The
implication of this statement probably was “teaching is my priority, other things are of
less importance”. These others include her family, and her own children, her health,
after all. This woman has very little free time to devote to herself and to her family. We
are all like her, aren’t we? We spend our free time writing plans, holding parents’
meetings, attending courses, visiting other teachers’ lessons, etc. Even if I’m in the
kitchen cooking, my mind is absorbed with school problems, and pupils. Being workaholics
without a decent reward in cash characterizes us as committed personalities, which is, no
doubt, a laudable fact in itself. Nevertheless, I’m calling on you to put your families,
your nearest and dearest in the first place, thus, assigning for work an honorable second
Let’s have a quick glance at our lives. Does the present state of
things in our families reflect all our previous intentions? In many cases, not. What are
the reasons for these shifts in our minds, souls, and hearts? Maybe, our families are no
longer of central importance for us, maybe we forget about accepting the members of our
families as they are. If one of us, women-teachers, finds her life going off track, my
advice is to stop, take three deep breaths and say to yourself, “My family is the
essence of my life”. We are free to choose a school, its principal, pupils and their
parents. But it is forbidden to betray your family. We can’t become respected teachers
at the expense of our families. Let’s not forget about them.
A few words about forgiveness. We once knew so well that forgiveness is
the natural state of life. In actual practice, our life has had some condemnation,
resentment and judgment in it. We also feel a certain discontent with our own and the
behavior of others (namely, principals, vice-principals, pupils, their parents, sometimes
colleagues). We think these people disappoint us, let us down periodically. Of course, it
leads to our discontent. We want things to be different (higher salaries, better housing
conditions, brighter pupils, compassionate bosses, so on and so forth.) As a result, we
might react by becoming impatient, nervous or even shout at a pupil who gets on our
Is this the right way out? Not in the least. On the contrary, this mode
of behavior seems to be the worst one. Isn’t it healthier, happier for yourself and
others to live in a forgiving mode and keep repeating the following affirmations for your
own and others’ good until you begin to feel them to be true:
1. Every day I have more and more patience;
2. I feel openhearted and generous toward myself and others;
3. I choose to love and drop the judgment;
4. I’m thankful for every part of my past, for it has led me to
5. I’m happy being me, living my life, knowing what I know;
6. God, grant me serenity to accept the things I can’t change,
courage – to change the things I can, wisdom – to know the difference.
Let’s acknowledge the fact that there are many ways to interpret
everything. Take some situation at random and think of three different ways to interpret
it, leaving a feeling of resentment for only one variant, two others should have two
positive interpretations. Try to carry at least one of the two into real life and see the
result. Feeling better this time? Go on practising.
I assume practice of learning forgiveness, of not holding grudges
against anyone at school and out of school is a health – saving technique. Do this
exercise until you are totally clear in your hearts:
I’m sure that many of you know many other attitudes and techniques on
the way to your main life goal as a woman, a wife, a mother, a teacher, and a daughter.
Ideas are infinite and easily available, the only thing is to find the best for yourself
and take steps to implement them in your life.
In case we manage to accept our life with all its grievances, pains,
and sufferings in a positive way, we’ll stop looking upon the job of a teacher as an
endless torture, upon ourselves as total failures, and we’ll stop envying women of other
occupations. We’ll start living in harmony with ourselves and our surroundings.
If only we could preserve a peaceful state of mind for at least this
coming school year.
I wish we could learn to set our top priorities! I wish we were not
driven away by daily routines! I wish we all were healthy, wealthy and wise!
By Rimma Bikkulova,
Lyceum No. 80, Naberezhnye Chelny