Feeling Tired? Could This Be Why?

Feeling Tired? Could This Be Why?

The other day, my teaching partner and I had a wonderful day at school. At the end of the day, as we reflected on how things went and some possible plans for the next day, we both remarked on how tired we felt. This got us thinking. With it being such a positive, productive day, why were we feeling so tired? That’s when I started to think about Stuart Shanker and the Five Domains of Self-Reg. Even on our very best of days, we are constantly responding to stressors.

  • It may be the biological stressor of the hum of noise that’s always there when you teach 33 Kindergarten students and are right next door to another Kindergarten class — also with 33 students and no full wall. As we have our meeting time and connect with students during play time, we’re working hard to block out the noise, focus on the children, and minimize our own volume level, so as not to increase the noise level for the other class.
  • It may be the social stressor that comes from daily interactions with others. As someone that has a non-verbal learning disability, social situations are a challenge. Each day, I try to go to the staffroom for at least one nutrition break. Our staff is wonderful, and I think that these connections are important, but it’s a lot of difficult work for me to engage in unstructured social situations. It takes a toll on me to make small talk.
  • It may be the emotional stressor of seeing and hearing a child cry, and in the midst of being pulled in many other directions, taking the time to stop, go over, and support the child that may need me most. It’s about not rushing the tears. It’s about keeping that quiet, calm voice, and a soothing tone. It’s about really being there for that child, even when my attention may be pulled by something else happening in the room. 
  • It may be the pro-social stressor that comes from empathizing with how a child is feeling, even if, at the time, we may see things differently. A huge thing for a child (from a misplaced nickel to a ripped art creation) can seem like a small thing to us, and it’s important to step back and view things from the child’s perspective. That often means us viewing things from 33 children’s perspectives all day long … and that can have an impact.
  • It may be the cognitive stressor of constantly wondering, Are we good enough? Are we doing enough for each child? Is there something else that we could be doing? Did we create ______ problem, and if so, is there something else that we could be doing differently? How are others viewing our program choices, and should we be changing something based on their views? Reflection is important. Asking these questions and making changes based on the answers, ultimately leads to better programming for students. In an effort though to always want to do more (or be better), it’s easy to feel the drain.

Looking at our day through a Self-Reg lens, I think that we can understand why we’re feeling “tired.” It’s also the reason that we take the moment after we come in from dismissal to just sit there and “breathe.” We have an After School Program in our classroom, and it would probably make more sense to use this time with no children in the room to do our final tidying up, but this is when we need to relish the quiet time. We need to think. We need to talk about the positives of the day, and reflect on what could make the more challenging times, better the next day. We need to share some of our observations, and then get excited about new possibilities for the days ahead. For it’s as we start “getting excited,” which we do every day, that we’re ready to stand up, clean up, and organize new materials. We may still be tired, but we’re feeling the energy that comes from an optimistic outlook for the next school day.

I love teaching, and I feel fortunate to spend my life doing what I love. Understanding the stressors that we may face as educators, gives us a better picture on why we may feel “tired” even on our very best of days, and how we can renew that energy to come back with gusto the next day. Are you feeling “tired?” What role might stressors play in this, and how do you renew your energy? Even as adults, stressors are a reality, and how we respond to them makes a huge difference. Let’s share our stories.

Aviva Dunsiger has been the Portal Plus Moderator for a year now and just finished the Foundations Certification Program. She has taught everything from Kindergarten to Grade 6 and enjoys blogging about her teaching and learning experiences. She blogs professionally on her blog, Living Avivaloca. Aviva is excited to contribute a monthly post on The MEHRIT Centre Blog.

By | 2016-11-11T14:49:09+00:00 November 11th, 2016|


  1. Jane November 12, 2016 at 8:13 am - Reply

    I know we had a very difficult week with the time change. It’s a lot of crying and emotions. Would be hard on teachers as well!

    • Aviva Dunsiger November 12, 2016 at 2:59 pm - Reply

      Thanks for the comment, Jane! For children especially (but maybe adults too), I wonder if the time change almost becomes a biological stressor that leads to an emotional response (like the crying). Maybe the change in sleep makes the students more tired, and hence, at times, more emotional. Just like with the crying example I used in my post, I wonder about the impact of this on both educators and parents. While we may know that tears are a stress response, they can at times be stressors for those that are responding to them … or at least, this has been the experience that I’m constantly grappling with as a teacher.

      While this post was written from a teacher perspective, I can’t help but wonder about the link to parents. Do they have similar feelings? How do they respond to these stressors? Thanks for giving me more to think about!


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  3. Lori November 13, 2016 at 9:34 am - Reply

    I was just talking about this with a colleague the other day! My ability to self regulate is essential to the ability for the children in my class to self regulate. We know this, Dr. Shanker has said this over and over and I get it! But…..what if my ability to self regulate is so impacted by the environment I’m in that it’s a constant struggle and I have to work extremely hard to stay regulated? What if there are ways to make my environment better but it’s going to cost money and maybe lots of it? We are working so hard to make sure our environments work well for the children but what about the teacher? Do We matter too?

    • Aviva Dunsiger November 13, 2016 at 9:53 am - Reply

      Thanks for the comment, Lori! This is a great point. I’d be curious to know what changes you were thinking about, and what impact these changes may have on both the student and the teacher? I think that considering the Self-Reg needs of both is so important. Money is always a stumbling block, but I wonder if there are some less expensive options that are possible. Also, what fundraising opportunities could there be to help with the payment? I think about our Board’s focus on mental health and well-being, and the ideas that you’re sharing here, definitely seem to align. Hopefully something can work, and that something will make a positive difference for educators, and ultimately, students.


  4. Lori November 13, 2016 at 10:18 am - Reply

    In my case it’s the noise coming from all around me! I’ve got a door on one side of my narrow classroom leading to a class of 30 kinders, a door on the other side leading to a class of 30 kinders, a door to the hall where the double gym is located as well as this is the same hallway the caretaker works out of! At the back of the class is a door leading to an area that connects my room with my neighbours to get outside to the kinder yard and beside that door is a wall of windows overlooking the many children in kindergarten exploring the outdoors all day long! Part of that exploring is of course trying to figure out the tint on the windows and how the works and different ways they can look to sometimes see us and sometimes not! Lots of banging! Top that off with before care on one side in the morning and the other side right after school! Oh and than 40 minutes later aftercare comes in my room and the other side! It’s a lot of noise that never ever stops! I’m not used to never having a moment of silence! Our school certainly wasn’t built with self-reg in mind! Although it was built before large size full kinder classses existed. Kinder claims they can’t hear me and my 17 kids but we certainly hear the kids and the teachers and the speakers playing the smartboard and the singing and all of the fun that Kinder brings all day long!!

    I’ve heard about noise limiting curtains but haven’t been able to find anyone who has used them and don’t even know if they would do on a classroom door what they do to a window. Maybe someone reading this will have used them? Few weeks ago I was off and came back and a supply teacher had tried to block the crack at the bottom of the door with stuffed animals. I chuckled and was impressed with her idea even though it didn’t do much!

    Any suggestions for blocking out the noise?

    • Aviva Dunsiger November 13, 2016 at 11:01 am - Reply

      Lori, a noise stressor is certainly something I can relate to, and I agree that it makes a huge impact on both kids and adults. I’ve never heard of these curtains before, but I wonder if Stuart Shanker or Susan Hopkins have and/or if they have some other ideas. I’ll definitely ask. This year, we’ve tried to align more of our louder and quieter times to try and reduce the hum of noise. We also use the outside space a lot — regardless of most weather. That makes a huge difference! The solutions aren’t perfect though, and you have more people to align schedules with as well. Would some noise cancelling headphones make a difference? I’m not sure if this would just be a bandaid solution. Curious to hear what others have tried.


    • Susan Hopkins November 13, 2016 at 11:20 am - Reply

      Hi Lori, so anything you can do to reduce the noise will help. Think like a sound engineer. The folks in this field and many musicians for example create homemade versions of studios in their basements. My daughter took drumming lessons for a bit and the drummer had done this with his family upstairs eating dinner and not a sound to be heard. Of course there are expensive ways to do this, the curtains do help, but there are intensive ways too. You have to be sure that what you choose doesn’t break any codes or rules but a few ideas are to consider a sweeper at the bottom of doors and weather stripping around windows and cracks where sound is coming through and consider egg carton walls – great sound absorber. Here is a neat video on sound /noise that every Self-Reg champion should watch (in my opinion) and also a list of DIY ideas for sound proofing.

      http://www.ted.com/talks/julian_treasure_shh_sound_health_in_8_steps (If you like this Google Julian Treasure, there are many gems from him)


  5. Aviva Dunsiger November 13, 2016 at 12:13 pm - Reply

    Thank you so much for your comment, Susan, and for sharing these links. The egg carton walls intrigue me. I never would have thought of this as a sound proofer. I’m also going to watch the TED Talk you shared. As someone that finds noise to be a stressor, exploring different options definitely interest me.


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