In perspective, not much of it really matters

Every year, pressure builds up in schools as people become more and more busy.

This is quite inevitable. What is not inevitable, however, is the stress that grows around it. Teachers tend to start getting frantic and “overwhelmed”. This is often due to the belief that every single little thing is critical. This is not true, in fact the vast majority of things that happen in school are not critical at all. We just allow them to seem more important than they are because, really, we lack perspective in schools.

We all need a few reminders, from time-to-time, that there are many more things in the world that are more important than getting a report out on a particular day, that there are more serious issues out there than a printer not working, that other people out there are exhausted and won’t get six weeks holiday, that there are people out there teaching with no resources at all, etc…

If you find yourself becoming caught up in a downward spiral and starting to believe that everything that happens is critical and worthy of your emotional investment… remind yourself that not much of it really matters. Not really. Not if you really think about it.


  1. Andrew

    Hi Sam.

    I’m having a little difficulty empathising with your post. Maybe it’s because I’m a young new teacher, or I just haven’t worked for long enough. I feel like I’m in a position of great responsibility – 20ish students look to me for guidance and direction. I agree that some things are not critical…but I feel that most of what I do -is- critical. This is the main source of my stress. I’m not too worried if I don’t get a report out on time or if I forget to reply to an email, I’m more concerned that I’m not doing enough for my students. The more experienced teachers I have spoken to have said that that is pretty normal though. There’s always something more to be done, or a better way to do something. To me, that is what is stressful.


    • sherrattsam

      Thanks Andrew… your sentiments are absolutely spot on. Perhaps I have not expressed it clearly in the posting, but the message behind it is that teachers often get stressed about all of the things that actually have little or no impact on students or the quality of their learning. Indeed, when teachers do allow that to happen… the learning and the experiences their students have inevitably suffers as a result!

      I am glad to hear that you feel the need to make sure each moment of your students’ day at school is powerful. The challenge is to keep that same emotional investment even as you become more experienced and teaching become “easier”. In reality, for really good teachers, teaching never becomes easier if you have the kind of attitude you seem to have, because you are constantly sharpening the saw, experimenting with new practice, rethinking the way you do things and strving for the best you can be.

      Thanks for getting me to clarify that!

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