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Picture this. Your district supervisor walks through the door ten minutes before classes are to begin for the day, requesting an on-the-spot inspection tour to see how you manage stress in school. You rise from your desk and lead the way confidently.
Stepping out of the office, you see halls flowing smoothly with students. You hear amiable voices on the air, and feel a comfortable peace. Despite the smile tugging forcibly at the corners of your mouth, you maintain dignity as you lead the supervisor down the hall. At each room, you pause, open the door, and present a serene atmosphere. You don’t even hesitate at the bathrooms, certain that not one of the five senses will be offended.
You’re in a dream, right?
No, it is reality – the kind of reality I learned to create when I myself had the privilege of serving as a principal, and managing stress in school.
Breakthrough Ways to Manage Stress in Schools
Principals should manage stress in schools, but how can they? With drugs, weapons, and a host of more common stressors, how can you be expected to manage stress in schools? How can you even master every technique to manage stress in schools?
Let’s look at some breakthrough ideas that will get you started. For the sake of global readership, I will purposefully use simple English.
1. Courage of Convictions
Top principals have the courage of their convictions. They believe firmly that a principal should manage stress in schools. They exercise the courage of that conviction.
Make it a priority to manage stress in school. Set a goal as to when and how stress in school will be controlled. Let nothing and no one deter you from meeting that goal.
2. Be Proactive
Thinking principals are proactive about learning to manage stress in schools. They don’t wait until stressors create mass anxiety. They expect to manage stress, and set out to do so.
Take action to manage stress before it is born or in infancy. Look for ways to avoid stress. Meet it head on. Enlist school personnel and students in proactive efforts.
3. Manage Your Example
Successful principals manage personal stress, and expect to control stress in schools. The best way to help students and school personnel control stress is by practicing stress management techniques yourself.
Get control over your schedule and workload. Force yourself to take a 5-minute break every hour to stretch and breath deeply. Maintain a tidy office with peaceful pictures and soft, peaceful music.
4. Manage Your Atmosphere
Capable principals recognize the importance of a positive atmosphere in managing stress in schools. They know noise and confusion are stressors that need to be controlled.
Reduce noise in hallways and bathrooms by piping peaceful classical music over your public address system. One school that introduced classical music to a building full of rough, rowdy students cut noise dramatically, and brought tangible peace to the daily atmosphere. Use positive words and phrases on signs, serene wall hangings to manage stress in school.
5. Manage Safety
Wise principals recognize that one way to manage stress in schools is to provide security and safety. They seek to address all areas, including, but not limited to bullying, hazing, drinking, terrorism, violence, drugs, and playground or campus safety.
Assess your school’s security needs. Ask students to anonymously list safety issues that concern them. Ask parents for their perspective. Have an independent consultant assess your school. Then take action to control safety in and outside the school. Reducing safety issues is a great way to manage stress in schools.
6. Clarify Expectations
Distinguished principals, like great corporate CEOs, clarify expectations for students, teachers, and other school personnel. They provide written job descriptions in addition to regulations, knowing that when everyone knows what to do, it helps manage stress in schools.
Students, especially, are likely to respond positively to written job descriptions, rules, and schedules. Draw a parallel to the work world, and point out that your school is a workplace for all concerned. When everyone does what it expected, according to their job descriptions, things move smoothly and you manage stress in schools.
7. Concede Control
Clever principles know that a vital human desire is control. A lack of control is a stressor. The more control you can concede to students and school personnel, within reason, the more able you will be to manage stress in schools.
Concede a measure of control in matters such as discipline. Let students choose between staying after school, tutoring a younger student, or reading to very young students. Concede a measure of control in academic goals. Students who set their own goals with guidance will work with less stress than those on whom goals are forced.
8. Make Neon Boundaries
As expert principals, you know that boundaries are vital. Much as students may feign annoyance, they are more peaceful with boundaries. These need not be fences or walls, but make behavioral limits shine as brightly as though they were tangible, high walls painted in neon.
Bravely put in place inescapable limits on unwanted behavior. Practice zero-tolerance with a loving manner – tough love. Students and teachers who have clear boundaries, and remain within them, have less stress. It takes a firm hand to erect those boundaries, but they will prove indispensable in your efforts to manage stress in school.
The eighth point is perhaps the most powerful tool in your effort to manage stress in schools.
You probably know about the “boundaries” study done many years ago with a kindergarten class. The school playground in the study was surrounded by a chain link fence. The children were permitted to play anywhere on the playground, and did so – right to the fence itself. Each day, they ran and played happily, using every inch of the large playground.
Then, the fence was removed. The children went out for playtime as usual, but soon became stressed. They sat or stood near their teacher. When she urged them to run and play, a few moved away, but not far. Some began to cry, and clung to their teacher. When she again urged them to run and play, several did, but no one went far from the teacher. The big playground had become frightening because they no longer knew where the boundaries were.
How do principals manage stress in schools? There is a wealth of ways, but these should get you started.