Six Steps during Stressful Times

Lots to think about and do. More on that later. For now, I want to share something with you that I had shared with some blogger friends over e-mail. This is a tough time for many of us as we are at the end of marking periods and swamped with things to do. Life can be stressful! (How is that for an understatement?)

Here are my six steps for stressful times:
They are what help me when I max out!

1 – Find the Magic 5

When I have a list of more than 20 things, I take out a highlighter and highlight the FIVE most important things. FIVE. Not ten, not six… five! Then, when I begin work, I start on the first one. After I complete it, I do the next one. And then the next. If I finish all 5 , I highlight five more.

This keeps things manageable and gives me a sense of accomplishment! Otherwise, I drown and do nothing! Break it down!

2 – The “Wind Down” Window

When I have trouble leaving work at work or ending my workday (what teacher doesn't grade in front of the TV), this is what I do. I set a time to “get off work.” It may be eight or it may be nine pm. But, I look at the time I need to go to bed and I try to back it up at least an hour. Otherwise, I end up having pity parties because I feel like I work until sun up to sundown.

There is a story that changed my life. It goes something like this:

A man was having trouble working too much, and then something changed. When a man asked the busy executive what it was, the executive asked him to meet him in his office about 6:30 the next evening.

When the man came to meet the executive, the executive said, “Now, let me show you my end of day routine.” He walked over to a one day at a time calendar and tore off the top sheet. He walked over to the trash can slowly. Paused for a moment with his eyes closed. Threw it in the trash. Flipped off the light and walked out the door.

The man say, “Wait a minute. What did you do there at that trash can.”

The executive said, “I just stood at the trash can and said, ‘Lord, this has been a good day. Thank you for this day. I got some things done that I wanted to do and some things I didn't get done, but it was a good day just the same. I have enjoyed this day and I appreciate it. Now this day is over and I ask that you help me tomorrow and be with me tonight as I live my life. I trust you to handle the things I didn't do until I get back tomorrow. Amen.'”

(This came from either Dale Carnegie or Norman Vincent Peale – I have read so much of their stuff it runs together.)

There is only so much you can do in a day! Do what you can and then walk away! You aren't made to run 24/7. Without your rest you will be unable to use your time well tomorrow. Give yourself a moment to breathe so you can move on!

3 – Remember the richness of relationships

You could offer me the world, but I'd rather look into the eyes of my children or husband. They are my wealth. Never trade what is transitory for what is eternal.

Sometimes being there is more important than being somebody!

If you are a parent, you are the one person who can do your job. No one else can or will love your child as much as you. It is your job to keep your children on a routine, love them, nourish them, and be their advocate and ears.

Prioritize what is important! No one can love those kids, that invalid parent, or those in your intimate circle like you. What would happen if you surprised your kids with cookies tomorrow or bought a special outfit for some snuggle time with your spouse? (I knew that would get your attention!) You become rich!

4 – Encourage others.

When I am most down and hungering for encouragement, I find that I get an instant mood boost by finding something that another person does well and praising it. Honest praise is rare in this world.

I love finding things that others do well and praising them for it. Every good teacher I know does the same.

5 – Keep perspective in failure

We all have setbacks. “Life” without an “F” is “lie.(Yes, I made that up!) We all fail sometimes because we're human! If we never failed, we'd be perfect and that's not possible!

But God doesn't make “F” people. I tell my students that their grades do not determine who they are. Every person on this planet is made by God and is an “A” in his sight. God doesn't make F's.

So, we all have an “F” sometime or another.

However, failure is not in falling, failure is in not getting up.

6 – Remember what beauty is.

This is especially for the women. As we grow older, we will allow ourselves to “disappear” if we value ourselves based on beauty. In a world gone awry that emphasizes so much the importance of appearance, I have a different take on beauty.

I teach this formula to girls:

actions + attitude + appearance = beauty

Do you know a woman who grows more beautiful with age? We all know them. It is the quiet inner peace of a well lived life that exudes a beauty that botox cannot emulate.

I'm not going to let anyone tell me what I have to buy or do or be or think to be beautiful! I take good care of myself, I am kind to others, and I am not snobby or boastful. I will not let Hollywood define my beauty!

I am beautiful because God made me and if I'm good enough for Him, I'm good enough for me! Enough of that size six, gotta have designer handbag stuff! Teachers don't make enough for that anyway. Going down that pathway is surely the path to discontent and I reject it!

Yes, I wouldn't be caught dead without makeup and I like to look nice. But I don't have too look like a desperate housewife to be desperately happy! I like myself just fine and I'm not genetically altered or hermetically sealed! I'm just me!

In Conclusion
As much as I love blogging about Web 2.0 and teaching, I have a desperate desire to encourage educators. It is time we encourage one another and help one another. Every child deserves a good education. Happy teachers are better teachers than those who are not.

Find joy in your career. For although many do not appreciate teachers, according to my own faith, the God I believe in sent his Son to earth.

And what did He ask others to call him?


I need no greater endorsement of my profession.

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Vicki Davis

Vicki Davis is a full-time classroom teacher and IT Director in Georgia, USA. She is Mom of three, wife of one, and loves talking about the wise, transformational use of technology for teaching and doing good in the world. She hosts the 10 Minute Teacher Podcast which interviews teachers around the world about remarkable classroom practices to inspire and help teachers. Vicki focuses on what unites us -- a quest for truly remarkable life-changing teaching and learning. The goal of her work is to provide actionable, encouraging, relevant ideas for teachers that are grounded in the truth and shared with love. Vicki has been teaching since 2002 and blogging since 2005. Vicki has spoken around the world to inspire and help teachers reach their students. She is passionate about helping every child find purpose, passion, and meaning in life with a lifelong commitment to the joy and responsibility of learning. If you talk to Vicki for very long, she will encourage you to "Relate to Educate" or "innovate like a turtle" or to be "a remarkable teacher." She loves to talk to teachers who love their students and are trying to do their best. Twitter is her favorite place to share and she loves to make homemade sourdough bread and cinnamon rolls and enjoys running half marathons with her sisters. You can usually find her laughing with her students or digging into a book.

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Karen Janowski October 14, 2006 - 2:29 am

Eloquence + practicality = Vicki Davis (with a touch of God’s love)

Your words are always inspirational and encouraging. Rest and enjoy your weekend!

John Evans October 14, 2006 - 10:29 am


Awesome advice to keep things in perspective. All teachers need to remember to take care of themselves. Your words are timely advice for all of us in this wonderful profession.

John Evans

Vicki A. Davis October 14, 2006 - 3:05 pm

You are too kind! Actually, I’m here working furiously on my online k12 conference presentation!

It is tough to keep perspective when there is so much to do (and so many papers to grade!)

Mr. Poling October 14, 2006 - 7:10 pm

You are a gem! Thanks for the post…I will keep that one by my desk and by my bed:)

Cheryl Oakes October 14, 2006 - 8:39 pm

Remember to breathe in the fresh air, the great attitudes and smile.


Karyn Romeis October 14, 2006 - 10:38 pm

“I need no greater endorsement of my profession.” And you are its poster child, in my view. Solid advice, as ever – I like the top 5 idea and will hint to my husband to adopt it!

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Vicki Davis writes The Cool Cat Teacher Blog for classroom teachers everywhere