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To Stress or Not to Stress – An Overly Verbose Introspection

Sometimes I feel guilty for not stressing as much as my colleagues do.

Here’s how it breaks down: I am not yet finished my degree in music education. Ergo, I’m not even yet a fully certified first year teacher, as decided by the province of Alberta (my degree being from my particular university, however, grants me the privilege of teaching for a full four months at 0.5 time as a normal teacher, which is awesome). In school, or in consultation with older, more experienced teachers, you keep hearing that the first little bit of teacher (i.e. 6 months to 5 years, depending on who you are and how awesome your first job is) is really stressful. Not having built up lesson plans, not having routines in place, getting the bum assignments, etc., etc. Therefore, when you have no license and schoolwork to accompany this first-teacher-ness, one would think the ulcers would spike. And for many people I know in my position, or even just being a beginning educator, this is true.

It’s not for me, and sometimes I worry why that is. It’s not that I don’t work hard. I enjoy my job, I try to stay a few days ahead in lesson plans and such, and I really care about making each day a good one both for me and my kids. But I don’t seem to have the frantic pace to my life that many people I encounter seem to. And I feel bad or even anxious.

Am I not doing enough? Is something going to come and whack me upside the head that I haven’t planned for? When I ask for references, will they say that I went the extra mile and would be a great person to hire to teach your children? Or, the most pleasant alternative, what am I doing better or more efficiently that helps me not stress?

Which is not to say I’m a better teacher. I know definitively that many of my close colleagues are easily better teachers than I am, and I also know I have so much to learn in my early career. But I have to wonder where my sense of preparedness comes from if I’m not doing anything substantially different (I would think if I was, it would be apparent).

Is it the way I approached my musical performances in the past that allows me to simply not let the worries get to me? (Yes, very much aware of the irony here) Have I somehow developed a method for planning ahead that means I don’t have to obsess over detail like I know some people need to do? Am I not a worrying person by nature? (I can hear my wife laughing at me for that one)

I don’t know the answer. I hope it isn’t that I am a less aware, less prepared teacher than others. I hope that it is that I am doing something very right. But I don’t know.

And so I wonder…

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3 Comments

  1. The ‘newness’ factor can be stressful for many people, but I’m sure there are personality types which more easily rise to the challenge (or don’t even feel as if it is a challenge). I think so much of that perception of feeling prepared can have next to nothing to do with actually being prepared and then there are some folks who are relatively comfortable improvising on the spot (which is no different than in performing music). Just count yourself lucky you don’t have the same anxiety problems with regards to teaching that many others do while you strive to learn more to master your craft!

  2. kayymm says:

    I’m not that stressed either. I have moments where I am stressed out but it’s not for any extended moment of time. I think it may be a personality thing. We also have other aspects in our lives that may relieve that stress and we don’t even know it. (Sidenote: Ed is coming and that stresses me out…)

    • Jazzman says:

      Observing can have that effect. I think that for me, it really does help that I’ve had to make my peace with not being the best in the room at musicianship (something that WAS a problem when I got to post-secondary). I already know I’m not the best at anything, so I take it all in stride with a grain of salt, and try and learn from everybody.

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