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Working in an international school can be very rewarding. It can also come with its own unique combination of stresses and strains. When we let these types of stressors go unacknowledged and fester, this can affect our well-being at work, and even our health.
On top of the usual challenges schools face, like dealing with challenging student behavior, stressors of an international school career may also include:
- Going through the stress and overwhelm of relocating.
- Dealing with parents who perceive their paying for a private education as outsourcing their parenting responsibilities to the school – with all the challenges that come with that.
- Dealing with incidents of ‘difficult’ (often actually ‘aggressive’ or ‘abusive’) behaviour from a parent or a student who is harassing school staff for grade inflation.
- Having to attend meetings and training that aren’t useful for your work.
Of course, working conditions and staff training vary depending on what stage the school is at and what systems and culture do and do not exist in a school environment.
Irrespective of the differences, it’s becoming more and more common for staff working in international schools to practice mindfulness-based tools for stress management. Some invest in such training for personal use, and it then also benefits their work. Others have the good fortune of having administrators who are open to investing some of their staff-training budget in upskilling their staff in stress management strategies.
The most cost-effective stress management strategy I’ve come across for working with international school counsellors, teachers, SLT, and support staff is a mindfulness-based stress management technique called EFT Tapping. EFT Tapping is sometimes just referred to as Tapping, or EFT (Emotional Freedom Techniques. Not to be confused with the other EFT, Emotionally Focused Therapy, which is a talk therapy).
There is a range of applications for coaching school staff and students in schools using EFT Tapping. One is for reducing staff stress and overwhelm, which aids with communicating more constructively, problem-solving, and teaching in a more collaborative manner. I’ve also found EFT Tapping valuable when coaching students in international schools for school-related stress. It’s great for fear of failing their exams, study motivation or concentration problems, study procrastination problems, missing deadlines, panic attacks in tests or exams, fear of going on stage for school plays, and more.
Tapping helps regulate the nervous system and reduces our cortisol levels when we think about an upcoming event or a goal we want to achieve. For students, that may be an upcoming test, exam, tournament, or school play. For teachers, that may be an upcoming parent-teacher conference, report writing period, meeting with a difficult parent or colleague, or lesson with a difficult class.
When we tap, it neutralizes the stress response in our body so that we can go into the meeting, class, exam, or another event in a more grounded and balanced emotional and physiological state.
Isn’t that what we all want?
This article was submitted by Eleni Vardaki, an Educational Consultant for international schools with 22 years of experience as a student and a teacher/administrator working in international schools. Eleni works as an independent service provider for international schools that value well-being and mindfulness-based stress management practices. She is also a qualified EFT Practitioner who uses EFT Tapping for goals, stress management, and anxiety to coach students and adults who want to work with her 1-to-1. You can reach her at: email@example.com
Information on the science behind EFT Tapping and school applications (all levels): https://elenivardaki.com/tapping-in-schools-summit/
A hands-on introduction to EFT Tapping for newbies: https://elenivardaki.com/eft-for-stress/