1. Preparing for the Fall Semester: What Do You Want to Share?
  2. Instructional and Assessment Technology to Prepare for Your Fall Semester
  3. Preparing Teachers for Standards-Based Lesson Planning
  4. Preparing for the Fall Semester: Aligning Instruction to Standards
  5. Technology in Coaching to Decrease Pre-service Educator Stress
  6. Boom-ing into Data Collection
  7. Accessibility Checker for Slides
  8. Technology to Support Executive Function Skills
A blue bus driving towards palm trees has a bumper sticker that reads "#NeverStress"

Technology in Coaching to Decrease Pre-service Educator Stress

Author: Kiera Anderson, OTR/L; info@ciddl.org

As we prepare for the upcoming fall semester, it is imperative to build a strong foundation for those preparing to enter one of the most stressful occupations, education. Difficulty retaining teachers negatively impacts student learning, school climate, and the stability of the public education system. Teacher preparation programs are accountable for the provision of quality education, adequately preparing students for success in the workplace. Stress is not uncommon in the teaching profession, and early career teachers are particularly susceptible to stress. The literature indicates that the knowledge and skills traditionally associated with addressing stress management to reduce educator attrition is sparse. Stress management should be given the same importance as teaching the technical skills of education. Supports including coaching can assist pre-service educators learn valuable coping strategies to handle the stress associated with the teaching profession and may help alleviate educator attrition rates. Managing stress is a foundational skill that will increase the resiliency of the mind and body to manage daily challenges. In this blog, we will discuss why educators are stressed, the impact of stress, and how guidance with various practical, and easy-to-use technology sources can be used for stress management.

Stress and Educators

Research has found that the occupation of teaching is more stressful compared to other professions. Factors contributing to teacher stress include lack of independence, workplace bullying and harassment, lofty demands without inadequate supporting resources, excessive workloads, and overwhelming emotional and mental demands. In addition, unprecedented pressures associated with the COVID-19 pandemic have severely increased workloads and work-related stress for educators. Exposure to community crisis and trauma can lead to secondary traumatic stress and burnout in educators. School violence, natural disasters, pandemics, and individual trauma experienced by students are all instances negatively impacting school climate. The need for additional support for both pre- and in-service educators to decrease the physically and emotionally unhealthy cycle of stress in the workplace is evident.

Impact of Stress

Stress reactions occur during experiences of actual or perceived demands. Reactions to stress include increased heart rate, breath rate, and heightened attentional focus. People have individualized reactions to stress, and these reactions can be positive or negative. Positive stress can be motivating, including increased energy and alertness required to adapt to situations such as a new place of employment, due dates, or studying for an upcoming exam. However, long-term toxic stress can lead to adverse health consequences such as elevated blood pressure, inadequate immune responses, anxiety, and mental illness. Long-term stress can negatively impact executive function skills, emotional regulation skills, and relationships between teachers and students. Unrealistic expectations and demands along with poor workplace support will lead to chronic, long-term stress and the inability to effectively manage the responsibilities leading to consequential departure from the profession of teaching. Maintaining a workforce of educators is vital for the health of society as a whole and requires helping pre-service educators develop tools and techniques to manage stress in the workplace.

Coaching and Technology for Stress Management

Coaching is a collaborative, client-centered process designed to facilitate client identification of goal areas and increase self-awareness and problem-solving solutions. Coaching has emerged as a potential solution to guiding educators for the last two decades and has shown recent promise in the development and guidance of preservice educators. The collaborative coaching relationship allows students to focus on contextual, academic, and occupational needs for optimal performance in the pre- and in-service environments. 

Technology can be explored within coaching and used to meet the individual stress management needs of pre-service educators. Most importantly, it should be noted a complicated user experience will only lead to a discard of tools. Technology must be intuitive and uncomplicated for the user, the coaching session must explore usability and usefulness within various features and applications. 

The following descriptions include stress management tools available within devices or as applications, links to tools are provided.

Stress Management Tool

Description

Digital Wellbeing (Android)

Allows the user to track interaction with the phone, includes Focus Mode allowing control over notifications for “Work Time” and “Me Time”, includes “Bedtime Mode” to increase quality of sleep all of which can decrease feelings of being overwhelmed leading to decrease in overall stress.

Focus (iOS)

Similar to Digital Wellbeing for Android devices, allows the user to customize settings and turn on time sensitive notifications allowing for user focus on salient tasks.

Personal Zen (iOS and Android)

Created by a neuroscience researcher, games designed to build resilience and decrease stress and anxiety.

AntiStress Anxiety relief Game (iOS and Android)

Includes mindless games like bubble wrap popping to decrease stress and anxiety.

Moodnotes (iOS)

A journaling app based on cognitive behavioral therapy techniques to develop understanding and management of anxiety.

The Mindfulness App (iOS and Android)

Assists users with daily mindfulness practice to decrease stress and anxiety. 

 

Keep the Conversation Going

What other applications or tools do you use to support stress management? How do you ensure your students are aware of the availability of these supports and value the importance of stress management as a foundational tool for success? Join our Community and keep the conversation going!