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Stress Management for ESL and EFL Educators

Stress Management for ESL and EFL Educators
Admin - Jun 14 2016
While teaching English as a second or foreign language is a very worthwhile and fulfilling profession for many practitioners, it also causes work-related stress just as much as any other career. Just about any unwanted situation, such as misbehaving students, substandard accommodations and inconsiderate local colleagues can trigger an English teacher?s stress levels to shoot up. Once this happens, there is a higher likelihood that the teacher?s enthusiasm and energy levels will dramatically go down.
What should ESL and TEFL practitioners do when faced with this type of situations?
Veteran educator Samuel Owens discussed the occurrence of ?burnout? in a highly personal essay that details his own personal ordeal as an English teacher practicing his craft in foreign lands. During a teaching stint in the Middle East, Owens tried to avoid getting burned out by taking on a different but related work to temporarily steer away from traditional classroom-based teaching. He recounted his new role as a member of a curriculum development committee. For nine months, Owens invested his experience and know how to help design a culturally relevant material. At the end of this meaningful and fruitful period, Owens felt he was ready and fully energized to get back in the classroom.
In addition to classroom-related stress, professional colleagues can also dampen our enthusiasm for work. Gossip, grumbling about the work environment, and other negative factors emanating from peers can easily cause a burnout. One way to address this situation is to conduct a polite but willful withdrawal from the sources of negativity. Cutting back on the usual Friday night forays in coffee shops with co-workers to catch up instead on reading or to revisit a neglected hobby can do wonders. If these fails, a long-postponed vacation will likely refreshen your resolve to help keep the torches of English learning alight.
Tips in Managing Burnout
Because the threat of getting burned out in the teaching profession is very real, a number of stress management studies have sprung, with most recommending various guidelines on how to handle stress. Whether the stress is caused by an unreasonably heavy workload, unresponsive pupils, poor facilities, or inconsiderate superiors, the following tips can help boost the flagging enthusiasm of ESL/EFL professionals:
  1. Adopt a positive attitude even in the face of intimidating circumstances.
  2. Always prevent your emotions from getting the better of you.
  3. Cultivate contacts and relationships outside the ESL/EFL ecosystem.
  4. Use mistakes as platforms for meaningful learning.
  5. Design and adapt personal approaches to specific challenges such as unresponsive students and negative-minded colleagues.
  6. Learn how to say ?No? (especially for cases wherein you are asked to assume too many tasks).
  7. Spend more time with cheerful, positive-minded people. Spend less with people having the opposite traits.
  8. Allocate time for calm, personal relaxation, reflection and/or meditation. A few minutes daily should suffice.
  9. Exercise. Scientific research provide evidence that physical activity is great for stress-management.
  10. Avoid stress eating. Munch up instead on stress-busting food.

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