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How to Keep Little Irritations from Becoming Big Problems

By Brian P. Gatens November 27, 2015

Schools are busy and hectic places. Children need a lot of care and attention. That’s what makes teaching such an intense profession.

So, of course, everyone gets fatigued and a bit irritable from time to time. Little frustrations that normally mean nothing begin to pile up, and pretty soon you’re beginning to feel fed up.

What can you do about a multitude of tiny annoyances? Try these tips:

Consider doing nothing

There is no rule saying you have to do anything when irritated — as long as your irritation doesn’t spill over into your attitude or behavior. I’ve known many colleagues who simply shrug off petty annoyances and go on about their day.

Of course, you have to do something if the issue becomes toxic to the classroom and starts altering the school experience of your students. Until that point comes, however, you have the option of just letting it go. The secret is working hard to differentiate between what you have to respond to and what you can let go.

Talk it out

The saying “a problem shared is a problem cut in half” applies perfectly in this situation. When you find yourself being chewed at by little day-to-day frustrations, you can always make that situation better by discussing it with a trusted colleague. The very act of saying your frustrations out loud automatically makes you feel better.

One important distinction here is you shouldn’t share your feelings in the faculty room in front of a group of colleagues. It may feel good to get the “toxic talk” out of your system, but sharing it with a group will only spread negative feelings among your colleagues. Share your frustrations privately with a friend, but don’t slam on the people you work with every day.

If you just need a break, take lunch in your room and offer extra help to any children who need it. This is a wonderful way to keep your attitude positive and connect well with students.

Look at your role

When these situations happen to me, I usually figure out that I have to share some responsibility for them. Sometimes my own impatience, unreasonable expectations or just plain crankiness are exacerbating my frustrations.

Another thing is that from time to time I’m really not annoyed at a situation, but rather at another thing and I’m taking it out in the wrong place. If you find that you’re one of the causes of your frustrations, you need to take care of your side of the street first.

Keep perspective

Little frustrations are exactly that. You won’t have to look far to find someone who is managing a far greater burden than a cranky child, a testy copy machine or a nonworking projector. Keeping this in mind is a good way to see beyond the situation chewing at you and instead find a way to get past it.

This is one of those things we need to constantly remind ourselves to do. Having gratitude for the good things in our careers — friendly and hard-working students, dedicated colleagues and supportive parents — is a defense against petty annoyances.

Remember, this too shall pass

No matter how permanent your situation seems, it isn’t. If you keep a good attitude, avoid people who spread negativity and gain strength from trusted colleagues, you’ll find relief from occasional annoyances.

Keep all this in mind when it feels like the little things are starting to pile up. Taking a deep breath, refocusing on what’s going right instead of going wrong, and spending some time around positive people are perfect reactions when things become difficult.

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