The Complete Teacher


Top Tips on how to deal with teacher exam stress

Posted by Karabo Kgophane on 30 October 2023, 19:20 SAST
Karabo Kgophane photo

Exam season is here, and with that comes stress…lots of it. And it’s not just pupils who get stressed, it’s teachers too.
Many teachers feel they’re expected to perform miracles and get blamed when students don’t do as well as they – or particularly their parents – expected them to.

Acknowledging that this is a stressful time for everyone concerned is the first step; learning how to manage and deal with the stress is the next.

If you’re a teacher, here are our top tips for dealing with exam stress.

1. Sleep – During the exam period, it is important that you have had a good night’s sleep too. As well as dealing with stressed teenagers you might also be holding extra support sessions for your pupils. You need to be rested and have your mind fully focused.

2. Eat breakfast– It is important that you get up and give your body energy with some breakfast, restoring its glucose levels and giving you some fuel to start the day with. A rumbling stomach while you’re invigilating is not good for anyone!

3. Eat well– Tempting though it is to grab a takeaway, make sure you eat a balanced diet during this period. Consider batch cooking at the weekend for the week ahead, so that you can eat healthy, home-cooked fast food.

4. Limit caffeine, energy drinks and alcohol– Whilst coffee, energy drinks and alcohol may provide an instant boost, you’ll feel worse in the long run if you overindulge as they all affect sleep patterns. Try to stick to no more than three caffeinated drinks a day, increase your water intake and consider a fruit smoothie for a natural boost.

5. Exercise – Try to factor some exercise into your day. A brisk walk or run – anything which gets you out of the house and gets some fresh air, is all you need. It could also aid sleep.

6. Switch off– It can’t all be work, work, work. Take a few minutes each day to do something completely different that forces you to concentrate on something other than exams; play a game, do some baking, or have a non-exam-related conversation with a friend or family member.

7. the time after exams– Give yourself something to look forward to. Think about what life will be like after the exams – no more marking, dealing with stressed pupils, etc. Maybe you’ve got a holiday planned. Visualise yourself on the beach, sipping a cold drink, reading a good book.

8. Be prepared – With your mind on exams it can be easy to forget and overlook things both at home and work during this time. Make to-do lists and schedule appointments in the calendar on your phone if you can, to ensure you don’t miss anything. By ticking tasks off a list, it can help you feel a sense of achievement at the end of the day, thus boosting your mood.

9. Stop – If you feel the pressure mounting at home or school, take a few moments to stop what you’re doing, take yourself out of the situation, take some deep breaths and count to 10.

10. Get help and support– If exam stress does get too much, speak to a friend or colleague or call the Education Partnership’s free 24/7 support helpline on 08000 562 561. 

One of the many benefits of supply teaching is the ability to avoid the stress that goes with the GCSE and A Level exam period.

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