Will Anxiety Be The End of Special Needs?

Published on March 11, 2018

Despite the present trend towards school-based decision-making, many schools continue to be bureaucratic organizations where educators have little control over significant choices in their settings and often operate in isolation. Furthermore, with increasing demands for accountability, the work of teachers is becoming more intense, leaving many teachers feeling emotionally exhausted. In school bureaucracies, therefore, teachers may be consumed by role overload and lack of autonomy.

In addition, as the focus of teachers ‘ efforts is to help students, many teachers are entering special education because of their desire to help children and young people. While the desire to help others can lead to strong student-teacher relationships and provide teachers with a commitment to education, the same desire can also make it difficult for teachers to leave their work in the schoolhouse. In fact, professionals who are emphatic, sympathetic, dedicated, idealistic, and people-oriented are vulnerable to excessive stress, especially when faced with the many challenges that students with disabilities face. Although special education teachers have many reasons to feel stressed, they can deal with stress more effectively through the use of specific strategies.

As a teacher, you can ease some of the stress generated by setting realistic expectations for yourself. Consider targeting one area of improvement over the course of a year and learning as much as you can, either through reading, completing coursework, or sharing with colleagues. You can also develop more realistic expectations of what you can do. It is impossible to complete all aspects of your overwhelming work load with perfection, so it is a must to set priorities. List the jobs that you have to do on a daily basis and identify those that are a priority for you personally and your administration, and deal with those jobs in order of importance.

Many school-aged children are now affected by a host of sociological factors, such as poverty, child abuse and single-parent families. As a result, teachers are faced with educating students who present a complex array of challenges. It’s critical to be able to show sympathy for students and their problems without allowing them to consume you. Teachers who are closely involved and concerned with the personal and family problems of their students may increase their vulnerability to burnout. When you leave the classroom, do the compelling mental work to leave your student’s thoughts to the work environment. If you need to share feelings or vent frustrations, set aside time once or twice a week to discuss them with another teacher or friend. When you talk about frustration, try to find solutions to the stressful situation. Repeated discussion of your frustrations, without any solution, only heightens them.

It is incredibly unrealistic to rely on the Principal or District Special Education Director to recognize your hard work. Look for other avenues of reinforcement, such as students, coworkers, friends or parents. Increase the likelihood of reinforcement by informing supervisors and parents of your successes. For example, keep track of student progress that you can share with others.

Teachers would be well advised to develop strategies to deal with stress in their teaching positions and in their personal lives. Stress research suggests that people have two basic approaches to coping with stress: active and inactive coping strategies.
People who use active coping strategies are trying to change their source of stress or themselves. People who use inactive coping strategies, on the other hand, avoid or deny the source of stress. Active coping strategies are significantly more effective in managing stress.

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