Opinion Blog

Ask a Psychologist

Helping Students Thrive Now

Angela Duckworth and other behavioral-science experts offer advice to teachers based on scientific research. To submit questions, use this form or #helpstudentsthrive. Read more from this blog.

Education Opinion

The Best Way for Teachers to Manage Stress

By Angela Duckworth — April 23, 2020 1 min read

How do I manage my stress so that I don’t take it out on my students?

Stress is what we feel when we perceive challenges that outmatch our abilities. Feeling stressed is a completely natural response to adversity: It gears us up to respond to those challenges. The question is, what do we do with that feeling?

I see a lot of parents and kids trying to suppress the stress response, to deny it, or at least not talk about it.

My advice is to do the opposite.

Acknowledging that you’re stressed—and, in fact, naming your feelings out loud—can be helpful. Maybe at dinner, you ask each person in your family, “On a scale from 0 to 10, where 10 is the most stressed out you can imagine ever being and 0 is complete calm, how do you feel today?”

And then, once you’ve admitted openly that you’re all feeling some degree of stress, see if each of you can pinpoint what the ebbs and flows of stress are in your day. My family gave this a try last night, and here’s what I learned.

For me, stress peaks when I’m overscheduled, with one meeting right up against another, no time set aside for lunch, and a backlog of emails all starred yellow for “urgent.” But doing yoga—my local studio figured out how to teach classes via Zoom video—is the opposite. I breathe. I stretch. I do what my yoga teacher says and focus on the moment.

Likewise, the next time you communicate with your students, find a way to help them acknowledge and explore their own stress levels. Send the message that in times like these, stress is natural, normal, and something we can learn from.

Angela Duckworth, the founder and CEO of the education nonprofit Character Lab, is a professor of psychology at the University of Pennsylvania. You can follow Character Lab on Twitter @TheCharacterLab.


The opinions expressed in Ask a Psychologist: Helping Students Thrive Now are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.

Events

Student Well-Being Webinar Boosting Teacher and Student Motivation During the Pandemic: What It Takes
Join Alyson Klein and her expert guests for practical tips and discussion on how to keep students and teachers motivated as the pandemic drags on.
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Student Well-Being Webinar
A Holistic Approach to Social-Emotional Learning
Register to learn about the components and benefits of holistically implemented SEL.
Content provided by Committee for Children
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Student Well-Being Webinar
How Principals Can Support Student Well-Being During COVID
Join this webinar for tips on how to support and prioritize student health and well-being during COVID.
Content provided by Unruly Studios

EdWeek Top School Jobs

CCLC Program Site Director
Thornton, CO, US
Adams 12 Five Star Schools
Customer Support Specialist, Tier 1
Portland, OR, US
Northwest Evaluation Association
Customer Support Specialist, Tier 1
Portland, OR, US
Northwest Evaluation Association
Customer Support Specialist, Tier 1
Portland, OR, US
Northwest Evaluation Association

Read Next

Education Briefly Stated Briefly Stated: February 3, 2021
Here's a look at some recent Education Week articles you may have missed.
8 min read
Education Briefly Stated Briefly Stated: January 20, 2021
Here's a look at some recent Education Week articles you may have missed.
9 min read
Education Briefly Stated Briefly Stated: January 13, 2021
Here's a look at some recent Education Week articles you may have missed.
8 min read
Education Obituary In Memory of Michele Molnar, EdWeek Market Brief Writer and Editor
EdWeek Market Brief Associate Editor Michele Molnar, who was instrumental in launching the publication, succumbed to cancer.
5 min read