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Managing Midterm Stress & Expectations as a New Teacher

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For a new teacher, stress can escalate as the middle of the year approaches and you have to prepare your students - and yourself! - for midterm exams. Although midterms might leave you scrambling, you can get through this overwhelming time by managing your stress with these helpful tips.

Prepare the Midterm Exam Early

Depending on your school, you may be required to create your own midterm exam, collaborate with other teachers to create an exam together, or there may be a midterm exam already prepared for you. Regardless of the method your school uses, you should make sure the exam is prepared as early as possible.

test bubble sheet

You already know the curriculum for the school year so creating an exam on your own or as part of a team shouldn't be too difficult. You know what objectives and concepts you are responsible for teaching to your students, which means you know what they need to be tested on during midterms. By creating your midterm exam based on what you plan to teach your students, you can ensure that you are covering the testing material in class. If a midterm exam has already been created for you, try to access it early so you can make sure what you teach in class will align with the material on the test.

Additionally, when you prepare your midterm exam early, you're saving yourself from the stress of having to create an entire, comprehensive exam on top of everything else you're dealing with!

Always Be Reviewing

New teachers are usually worried about covering all of the necessary material before an exam, which doesn't always leave enough time to properly review for that exam. That's why you should always be reviewing previous material even when you're teaching new concepts.

While this might seem like a lot of extra work, it doesn't have to be. Since you already know what topics will be covered on the exam, you already know what topics to review with your students. Work a few review questions into your current lesson, assign review questions for homework, or use your bell ringer assignment as a way to review test material.

student taking a test

When you're constantly reviewing like this, your students will feel that all of the material is fresh in their minds instead of something they learned and forgot about at the beginning of the year. Also, since you've been giving students unit exams leading up to their midterm, you know what concepts they struggled with. Focus on these concepts when you review so your students will have better mastery for their midterm.

Stay on Top of Grading and Other Tasks

Besides preparing your students for their midterm exam, you will also be responsible for making sure all of your students' midterm grades are finalized. This means you need to have all of your regular grading done as well as the midterm exam grading. And we all know how time-consuming grading can be!

Roxanna Elden, educator and author of See Me After Class: Advice for Teachers by Teacher, says, ''Try to get at least two grades into your grade book the first week… and every week after that. Otherwise, ungraded papers can pile up and lead to a crisis.''

class taking a test

As midterms approach, take an assessment of where you are in terms of grading and other administrative tasks. If you're behind, build extra time into your schedule to grade papers and get them back to students. Prioritize what's the most important leading up to midterms and complete those tasks first.

Take Care of Yourself

It's easy to get caught up in the stress of teaching and let your personal life fall by the wayside, but don't let this happen to you. If you enjoy teaching, you want to keep it that way so you don't end up resenting your job. But how can you do this?

Manage your stress! Set limits for yourself. Go home. Exercise. Don't skip meals. Get enough sleep. Spend time with your friends and family. Do something that you enjoy. Relax. Meditate. Do whatever you need to do to make sure you have a healthy work-life balance. This will not only be beneficial for you, but it will also be beneficial for your students.

Talk to Someone

two teachers talking

Part of being a new teacher is feeling overwhelmed. You're just starting out and learning how to balance all of your responsibilities, but you don't have to deal with the stress on your own. Remember, this is just midterms. You still have another half of the school year to get through, and you don't want to burn out early.

So if you're feeling overwhelmed and you're unsure how to deal with it, talk to someone. Let another teacher or an administrator know what you're dealing with. Not only will they be able to relate, but they also might have some helpful advice and suggestions to get you through the stressful midterm period.

Whatever you do to manage your midterm stress, take note of it because you might need to pull these strategies back out when finals start approaching!

By Melissa Kreindel
November 2016
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