9 Tips for Overcoming Classroom Stage Fright
On a spring afternoon in the 1990s, I happened to run into one of my teachers in the lavatory of the school building. As I was staring at his hands, which were trembling with liquid soap, the world-renowned metaphysical science-fiction author noticed that I was staring at them as well. ‘I get the shivers around 15 minutes before every lesson,’ he explained. “I’ve been in every class for 30 years.”
THE EFFECTS OF STAGE FRIGHT ON TEACHERS
Many K–12 teachers and preservice teachers I’ve met since then have experienced performance anxiety similar to my professor’s; this condition causes them to stumble over their words or forget important concepts during presentations. According to a recent study conducted on preservice teachers in China, teacher anxiety manifests itself as follows:
The campaign for the newsletter has come to an end.
It has a negative impact on effectiveness.
Preservice teachers are more likely to seek different occupations.
Reduces the warmth and vocal encouragement that teachers give to kids.
As a coping method, dogmatism is becoming more prevalent (teachers may also become overly strict or lenient)
As a result, teachers become cynical about their students.
Negative coping behaviours such as overeating or undereating, as well as substance dependence, may develop as a result.
When officials or university supervisors are present in the room, the anxiety level rises even further. On top of being evaluated, you must also handle the uncertainty of your roles: Is your target audience made up of students or evaluators? At the very least, the experience is unpleasant; at the absolute worst, it is horrifying to be subjected to. I’ve been there myself.
WHAT CAUSES STAGE FRIGHT?
The fight-or-flight response to perceived threats is hardwired into our neural networks. When confronted with a terrifying situation, the body automatically shuts down non-essential activities such as digestion and increases blood flow, muscle tension, and perspiration in order to prepare you to either crush the danger or flee for safety as quickly as possible. As Mary Fensholt argues in her book, The Francis Effect: The Real Reason You Hate Public Speaking and How to Get Over It, dread of public speaking is linked to an ancient fear of being devoured. A couple dozen predatory eyes glaring your way thirty-five thousand years ago in Sub-Saharan Africa signalled that it was lunchtime for a troop of hungry lions or tigers. In order to counteract the bio-evolutionary reaction during teaching, consider the following strategy: Assume that the pupils are newborn bunnies, and that they are your prey.
9 TIPS FOR OVERCOMING CLASSROOM STAGE FRIGHT
You already know that rehearsing presentations will help you relax, as will coming early to set up the room and fix any technology that will be used. You also know that arriving early will help you relax. Here are nine other suggestions that you may not have considered:
Move, laugh, and take deep breaths. Before class, take 15 minutes to hop up and down in the restroom to release any tense energy you may have. It is certain to make you laugh. Shaking your limbs can help to relieve nervous tension and stress. Breathe gently and deeply from the belly, placing your hands on the backs of your hips to help you stay relaxed.
For two minutes, hold the “power posture.” When Sly Stallone, in the film Rocky, leaps up 72 stairs in front of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, he strikes a power position, according to Harvard professor Amy Cuddy, which involves raising his fists. Specifically, according to HuffingtonPost.com, “Cuddy’s research… has shown that adopting the body language associated with dominance for just 120 seconds is enough to cause a 20% spike in testosterone and a 25% decrease in the stress hormone cortisol.” To put it another way, adopting certain postures makes a person feel more in control.”
Easter eggs should be incorporated into your curriculum. Do you dread the negative response your pupils will have to a lesson that is conceptually confusing? Consider including a few surprises in the lesson that you and the students can look forward to, such as a slide starring Ryan Gosling, some popcorn, a brief film, a Bob Dylan break, or a review game for the students. Confidence is built via playfulness, which is also contagious.
A ceremony should be performed at the beginning of the lesson. The first couple of minutes of a new class can be the most scary of the entire session. All of my classes begin with 60 seconds of good news, which I broadcast throughout the room. Birthdays, new automobiles, successful operations, and relatives returning from Afghanistan are among the things that students mention. Along with providing everyone with warm connections, the focus is on pupils rather than on you as a teacher.
Content should be reinforced. Auxiliary materials should be brought, such as posters, handouts, advance organisers, or a PowerPoint presentation. Don’t aspire to be as oratorically gifted as Noam Chomsky; your papers will deliver the necessary information on their own.
Don’t give up control of your centre. Keep in mind that blank pupil expressions do not necessarily indicate disinterest or anger (see “critical-parent syndrome”).
Make a commitment to a feeling. Immediately prior to the start of class, think back to a time when you were happy and excited. Upon entering the classroom, you will feel more relaxed and animated.
Chairs are being counted. Counting in a rhythmic manner will assist you in keeping your adrenaline levels more stable.
It is not about you at all. Remember to keep your attention on the pupils’ learning rather than on your own performance.
At the end of the day, take courage from Eleanor Roosevelt’s words: “You can develop strength, courage, and confidence by every encounter in which you truly stop to look fear in the face.” You will be able to say to yourself, ‘I was there, I experienced this atrocity.’ The next item that comes along will be fine with me…. “You must accomplish the thing that you are unable to do.”