As the term rolls on, stress mounts. Both students and teachers have a large workload, there doesn’t seem to be enough time for work, and nerves get frayed. Add to this all of the tensions outside of school like money, family, relationships, or maintaining the fictions of money or relationships with your family, and you have a recipe for mental breakdown.
Welcome to the midterm blues.
Pro tip: mid-term drinking may seem like a good idea to de-stress, but it can make you lose track of important things like homework or pants.
Dealing with midterm stress comes in two forms: better work habits and better self care.
Midterm Work Habits
In the middle of a term, it comes down to time management and workload management. Every day I’m working to my limit to keep ahead of my grading and providing useful feedback to my students. At the beginning of the quarter, I already have my lecture schedule, and most of my exercises and handouts ready to go. Even with this, there are days when my grading is cursory.
Trying to keep track of every detail of 50+ students’ progress and work is enough to drive a person crazy(er). So… rather than drive myself further round the bend going through every student’s work line by line, I end up flagging four different student’s work. My bottom three performers and one student at random. The bottom performers need the feedback on their work, and other students need a check in from time to time. It keeps me sane… ish.
Students need a break too. If you can, then schedule a flexible day. This gives them a chance to catch their breath, get caught up (or at least less behind), or just to ask questions. Hopefully then they will be less stressed, less snappy, and less prone to bursting into tears and swearing off math for the rest of their life.
There is a LOT that could be written here… but I’m trying to not overdo it! For now.
Midterm Self Care
There are very real reasons why teachers have a high rate of burnout. Just as important as taking care of work, is taking care of yourself. I know that when I get busy, I tend to crowd my schedule more and more until I have little to no personal time. Getting work done is important, but so are things like eating, sleeping, and some carefully orchestrated depravity. There is no separating minds and bodies (although I might enjoy being a disembodied brain in a jar someday), so take care of yourself.
Tip: Schedule nookie. While spontaneity is nice, nothing really beats a well planned seduction.
And while you are planning “me” time, don’t forget actual down time. Time where you aren’t just writing your own novel, curing cancer, or polishing the family silver… brainless fun. Like hunting zombies, or catching up on all of the various CSI shows out there. Or something.
I had planned on saying something else profound here, but I’m currently blanking. Pretend I said something really interesting and share it with your friends. Then tell them I said it, because I would love to see a bit “hit count” on this post.
So take care of yourself.
Remember: it could always be worse. You could be on fire.