Stressed is Desserts Spelled Backwards
A. STRESS MANAGEMENT
Whether you are a seasoned professional or just starting your career, it‟s wise to establish and maintain a reasonable pace for yourself. It may be easy to think you have no control over your job. However, you are in control of how you perceive and react to
potential stressful issues. Anything can cause you stress if you let it. You must respond to demands on your time; the manner in which you respond can make the difference.
Following are tested and practical suggestions to help you manage existing stress and help reduce the introduction of more stress into your life.
1. If you think an added chore is stressful or overwhelming it will be. Before you simply react to a situation, take time to evaluate it. How are you going to deal with this? Do you have alternatives? Can you get help? Then develop your plan of attack. As a list maker write everything down, do a task analysis, and prioritize the tasks. Then see how this all fits into your existing schedule and “To Do” list. With some careful preparation it may not be as bad as you think, or as bad as it could be if you were to panic without planning. 2. Be aware of stress factors inherent in the job. The majority of people who become teachers have innate values of being helpers. We undertake the role in order to „help‟ (teach) children to become independent contributors to society. Stress can occur when a student resists being helped. Also, as itinerant personnel, teachers work to influence how the students and school personnel use adapted materials and techniques when we are not on site. When students or school personnel resist using these adaptations independently, we can feel frustrated and stressed.
3. The last helper-related stress factor could stem from the importance of reducing helper activities. As students mature, they need to become more responsible for self-advocacy. If they resist taking that responsibility, teachers can be conflicted between rescuing and letting the student „fail‟. Despite our need to be helpful, students need to fail sometimes; after graduation we will not be there to help. You may be disappointed if students aren‟t using appropriate materials (such as a monocular) or being self-advocates. One way to deflect this disappointment is to tell the student, “When you are a mature adult, you‟ll remember what you‟ve learned and will use the monocular when it will provide you with information you need.” Planting this seed can give you the hope that your sage
advice will be used at some point in time, if not now.
4. Working one-to-one with students is a special privilege, but it can foster too much familiarity. There is a certain median level of involvement with students that is healthy. Be involved enough to provide appropriate, creative interventions; resist becoming involved
to the point at which you try to deal with global issues for which there are no solutions. One sign of overinvolvement is the feeling that you should take a student from a deprived living situation into your own home. Appropriate professional detachment is a necessary part of stress reduction for itinerant teachers. It is this detachment that will lead you to contact family service agencies designed to intervene and improve the student‟s living situation.
*Nothing adds to an already stressful situation more than tension among co-workers. If you are experiencing problems with your co-workers you owe it to yourself and them to discuss problems as soon as possible. Do not allow an issue to fester. A tension-filled work environment is not pleasant and it certainly is not conducive to efficient work.
5. If you are experiencing a work-related problem outside of the office, use your co-workers as a sounding board when trying to solve your dilemma. They may have tackled the same problem themselves, in which case their input could be very helpful. At the very least it is a sharing of ideas, which in itself is an opportunity to learn something new.
6. One way to prevent adding more stress is by not taking on more than you can handle. Stress occurs when your mouth says „yes‟ and your gut says „no.‟ If you are already working at your limit, do not take on additional responsibilities, no matter how compelling it may be. This includes both at the office and at home. This does not mean that you can never take on the responsibility of being the union representative for your department or helping with the soccer team carpool. It just means that you will wait until such time as you feel comfortable about adding it to your list of responsibilities. Ideally, added roles should be enjoyable not perceived as a chore.
Perhaps the most important aspect of stress management is to make sure that you are taking time for yourself. You are more effective with your students when you are feeling calm, capable, and energetic. If you do not take care of yourself, it‟s unlikely you will able to optimally serve your students (or your family). There is much literature about handling stress; read and listen for techniques that you will find helpful. Sometimes just adapting simple changes (to be discussed later) can divert you from feeling that you are in a rut and lessen feelings of stress.
There are many ways to reduce stress and improve your health. Those specific to the role of the itinerant teacher include: 7. Your car may be used as a private therapy room. You can vent frustration as needed or sing and laugh with joy.
8. Meet regularly with other itinerant teachers to reduce feelings of isolation. These meetings will be more productive if each of you has a sense of humor and an appropriate perspective. It‟s helpful to be with people who are experiencing the same joys and frustrations. 9. Think about what activities inspire you and incorporate them in the students‟ IEPs. For some teachers, that might involve teaching
students new games for leisure activities. For others, it may entail scheduling appropriate study trips that provide helpful information to the students as well as break up the monotony of following a regular schedule day after day
From Itinerant Teaching … 2005; Olmstead with Dunham/Simms
B. Remember that, at least ideally, students are served in itinerant programs because they can adjust to and deal with less than ideal situations.
C. OTHER IMPORTANT ISSUES
Establish a workday schedule with your supervisor.
___ Total IEP minutes, including both direct and monitoring
___ Transition time
___ Unscheduled time for referrals, assessments, etc.
___ Program meetings
___ Conference/preparation period
425 minutes per day
D. Direct services and monitor services
Our role is to expedite the inclusion of our students in their school activities. Both types of services, direct and monitor, are crucial to the role of addressing students‟ disability-specific needs. Neither is
more important than the other. Monitoring services include: transcribing materials in the appropriate media either directly and/or in conjunction with a transcriber; regular observations of the students in all aspects of their daily schedules; conferring with school staff, parents, medical personnel and community resources; and performing assessments. Each of these monitoring components is vital to the students‟ successful integration; time to perform these services should be delineated on each student‟s IEP in one form or another, either as „direct‟ or as „direct and monitor.‟
E. Use of paraeducators
Currently some students have paraeducators to provide support when the itinerant teacher is not on site. The IEP team must realize that the presence of a paraeducator will probably not reduce the amount of time allocated for your services on the IEP, but will probably increase the number of minutes to include ongoing training, regular observations, consulting with, and assessing the paraeducator‟s performance.
1. There is no one correct way to be organized.
2. There is no way to have every detail/object with you at a site. 3. It is okay, even smart, to say „I don‟t know but I‟ll find out and get back to you.‟
G. Assertive Persons‟ Bill of Rights
1. You have a right to put yourself first sometimes. 2. You have a right to make mistakes.
3. You have a right to your own feelings, beliefs, and opinions.
4. You have a right to change your mind or decide on a different course of action.
5. You have a right to speak up if you feel you‟ve been
6. You have a right to ask for clarification when you do not understand something.
7. You have a right to ask for help or emotional support. 8. You have a right to feel pain and to express pain. 9. You have a right to ignore the advice of others. 10.You have a right to receive formal recognition for your work and achievements.
11.You have a right to say “no.”
12.You have a right to be left alone when you want to be alone.
13.You have a right to not to have to anticipate others‟
If you‟re like most people, you believe most (or all) of these “rights” intellectually, but you don‟t believe them in your heart. Intellectually you believe that “you have the right to put yourself first sometimes,” but old childhood programming keeps whispering, “nice people always put other people first.”
Consider questioning your old programming and see if it still makes sense for you today.
H. How much psychic energy does it take to __________ in people all day long?
I. 1. Take one day of _____ a week.
2. Use _______________ as retreats. Have fun. Nourish your soul as well as your mind.
3. Three days a week take a ______ lunch break.
4. We are helpers/care givers. We may actively deny our irritability/aggression. We spend most of our lives trying to be nice.
5. Once a week, ___________________ out of someone.
6. Once a week tell someone you _____________. th 7. Choose one day a month, e.g., the 8. Every month do
8. Every Wednesday take time to finish a conflict that hasn‟t been resolved. Clean it up or it may spoil everything.
9. Take ________________ days.
10. Once a week talk about your feelings with someone who loves and cares about you and understands you, but be sure to limit complaining/moaning to 15 min.
11. Make a list of 20 things you‟d like to do. When feeling
lousy, do one of them right away.
12.Don‟t fight unless you have to. If you have to, fight to
J. New itinerant teachers will not believe how much different their second year will „feel‟ when people know them.
K. Working with dysfunctional families:
1. Often takes more than one intervention.
2. No movement on an issue: don‟t try harder; try different.
3. Resistance is strength directed in a way to tick you off. Try a new approach.
4. Sometimes something is inconvenient for a family; we could make it worse to get action.
5. Change needs to be incremental.
6. Reframe ideas; explain something in a different way.
7. Don‟t think too hard; ________________________________.
L. ____________ has all the answers; we need to know whom to ask for help.
M. From Dr. Georgia Witkin, author of The Female Stress Syndrome:
1. Walk: rhythmic, no-obligation walking where you actually look around and breathe.
2. Home disco: run around the house or office for a few minutes to music faster than your heartbeat.
3. Crossword puzzles: a favorite de-stressor for some people. 4. Stoplight workout: do this progressive relaxation every time you are stopped at a red light. (relax your head, relax your neck, …)
5. Two-minute neck massage: ask family members, especially kids, for a quick little massage while they are watching TV. 6. Mirror as biofeedback: instead of checking your hair every time you look in the mirror, check your shoulder and neck tension. 7. Desk-top swinger: sit on your desk and swing your feet. 8. Instant sunshine: on tense days, wear yellow-tinted sunglasses. 9. No _______________ outs: buy enough items for every member
of your family for four weeks so you don‟t have to do the laundry
quite as often.
10. Hypothalmus fooler: organize your wallet. This tricks your brain into feeling things are under control.
N. Discover and accept your nature.
O. Increase creativity by confusing your mind and forcing it to reprogram how it takes in and records information. Go through your daily routine but mix up the activities to break old patterns. Suggestions:
1. Brush your ________ with the opposite hand.
2. Move your office ______________ to a different part of the room.
3. Sleep on the ________________ side of the bed (or in a different room).
4. Read your __________________ section of the paper first.
5. Drink all beverages using your ________________ hand.
6. Move ______________ on your desk to a different part of your office, so that you have to get up and walk across the room each time you use them.
P. _________________ is going to make sure you take care of yourself.
Q. Stress Crushers
1. Play pinochle, ring toss or dominoes. They‟re better for you than the other games people play like “who‟s got the biggest house, most important job, or highest priced car?”
2. Don‟t hold onto dynamite after it‟s lit. Walk away from quarrels, fights, or squabbles when tempers are touchy. Don‟t argue. Discuss.
3. Train, don‟t strain. Increase workloads and responsibilities gradually. Don‟t take on more than you can handle.
4. Love thy neighbor as thy old slippers. Be casual and comfortable with people. Accept them as they are. Enjoy others.
5. Find your funny bone. Laugh at yourself and at situations. Humor melts stress.
6. So, who cares? Maybe today, but 500 years from now? Or even 5 years from now? Put things in their right perspectives. They may not be as important as you think.
7. Go to the North Pole. Or a cave, attic or bomb shelter where you can be by yourself. Try to be alone for a few minutes each day just to relax, meditate or read.
8. Avoid leaping contests with kangaroos. Don‟t compete with everybody doing everything. Refuse to compare yourself to others. Set your own standards.
9. Be a big spender. With love, that is. The more you give, the less stress you will have.
10.Get lost in a dream. Always be working on something larger than the weeds by the rosebush, car payments, or dusty closet shelves. Tomorrow‟s dream takes the stress out of today‟s problem.
11.Retire from the Supreme Court. Get out of the human judgment business. Why add to your stress level by useless critical opinions of others?
12.Pin a medal on yourself. Reward yourself when you‟ve worked hard. Have some lobster, go out dancing, or see a show. 13.Get a babble buddy. Find someone who will listen. Talk about your problems, anxieties, and fears without shame.
14.Ride a rainbow. See something pretty in what‟s about you. It‟s really quite a lovely world if you take time to look at it! 15.Take slowpoke training. Slow down. Allow more time for tasks, getting to appointments, eating meals, and relaxation.
R. Accept what you can‟t change.
S. Remember that you are not alone. There are a number of us with a multitude of experiences. We are all just a phone call away. Let‟s all share our expertise.
T. Final suggestions.
1. Take care of yourself. Incorporate into your life whatever lightens your heart.
2. Maintain a median level of involvement with students that‟s healthy.
3. Wear your watch on the other wrist.
4. Take different routes from site to site.
5. Use your car as a private therapy room.
6. Take time for yourself.
7. Meet regularly with others who experience the same frustrations as well as joys.
8. Adopt the motto: ______________________________. 9. Incorporate those moments that jazz you into your work life at least once a month, so you‟ll go home saying