My stress pyramid: Code Green

Posted: April 4, 2009 in Learning..., Theory
Tags: , , , ,

So it’s been a while since I’ve posted. If I look back, I am sure that the patterns are similar across the years. Suddenly, after a long dry spell and around spring break, I “find the time” to post. For me, “finding the time” is probably a bit of a lie. I have plenty of time once the kids calm down and go to bed. I have plenty of (or at least some) time as I sit at nights and check Digg or read e-mail or check out xkcd or read the blogs from my rss feed. I have the time.

What I don’t seem to have is the peace of mind that allows me to process what has gone on/is going on in my day.

So, after ruminating for a while, the logical/sequential part of my brain has put together a chart about the effect of stress on my life/profession. (It took an entire week of spring break to get here… boy, much like drinking, I just don’t bounce back like I used to…) I’m probably throwing a bunch of analogies at the wall here… we’ll see if any stick.

The shape of the triangle represents the quantity of stress I have in my life (or the inverse proportion of how much time I have to just “think”). The larger the piece, the more stress I have. The descriptors (swimming analogies) are where I am in my life/job when I have that level of stress.

Because water and swimming can be so beautifully relaxing... yet so dangerous.

Many people talk about “just surviving” when times get tough in the land of teaching.

For me, that’s the bottom of the light (dare I say “grass”)  green box: treading water. I’m able to (sometimes barely) maintain order in my class, my life, and my curriculum. I’m (sometimes) able to correct things within a legitimate amount of time. I don’t plan ahead. I don’t improve my lessons. I’m just getting by. But, yes, I am alive, and yes, I am surviving.

Beneath that is a place that I’m sure we all have when we get to those stress levels. It’s probably coming dangerously close to the “big D Depression”. Those are the times when I’m glad that I’m dressed and in building. (One without the other constitutes a Fail, IMHO.) I’m a zombie all day and, honestly, I just hope to have a neutral effect (keeping it positive enough to just not be negative). I don’t like it when I go here, and I hate seeing it in other teachers as well… but I’ve seen it in quite a few others as terms and (sports/activities) seasons come to an end.

Moving up in the world, swimming is when life starts to get fun again. We swim along, we have some fun, we learn. Lessons get changed, activities are tried, Moodle is updated.

Stroke refinement (and movement in that direction) is when I can look at the broader spectrum: ask those essential questions, figure out those enduring understandings, plan for the whole instead of just the part. I get into the deepest depths of this calming blue in the summer. I really enjoy this time whenever it comes my way. It brushes my brain and my intellect in a way that revitalizes me.

So how can I stay out (and help others stay out of) of the reds and move into the calming greens and blues more often? (Much like a 90s mood ring.)

That, dear friends, is the question of the year.

How do you do it?

Does any of this even make sense? Maybe I need another week off. 🙂

Happy Spring Break!


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