Being a teacher is one of the most stressful jobs in the world, but is it really that stressful? In today’s world, teachers are expected to perform at peak performance in a class of 30 students with an average attention span of seven seconds. With the pressure of student performance and a constant stream of new ideas, it’s a wonder teachers don’t drop dead in their classrooms. But sometimes the teacher in the classroom is not the school teacher or the one you see on television. It’s the teacher in the back, the one who works the late shift, the one you never see. The one who gives them snacks, gives them water, gives them their lunch money, drives them home if they need it
A common view of teachers is that they are just a bunch of stressed out individuals, but is this really the case? In this article I will discuss why teachers are actually more stressed than most people, and how you can prevent burnout from ruining your career.
Teachers are under stress in ways they never have been in my 28-year career in the classroom. Before the recent strike in Portland, my professional opinion was that teachers are under stress in ways they never have been in my 28-year career in the classroom.
Can we finally come to an agreement?
Educators are under a lot of stress. According to a RAND research, stress was nearly twice as frequent as inadequate income as a cause for educators leaving teaching early. Plus, there’s more. This study was conducted before the outbreak of the pandemic. With the implementation of COVID-19, 54 percent of instructors report high levels of burnout and tiredness, and almost half report significant anxiety in the job.
The burden of pandemic teaching has been exacerbated for Black educators by an intense and emotionally draining year for communities of color. Their pupils are in the same boat. According to the Committee for Children, teachers who are stressed or burned out in the classroom are poor instructors, which has an influence on students’ academic performance and success. And that time is cumulative; throughout the duration of their schooling, a kid will spend 8,884 hours — more than a year — with instructors.
As a result, it seems self-evident that our mental health should be a top concern. However, the private and corporate sectors seem to be gaining ground. Businesses are beginning to normalize mental health conversations and efforts in the workplace, but education has a long way to go.
Teacher Health and Happiness
One way to make mental health a priority for teachers is to include it in their professional development goals. In reality, this requires forethought, buy-in, and consistency. But it is possible.
My colleagues and I have spent the past year putting up professional development plans that include mental health and wellness assistance, with an emphasis on self-care. We develop self-care strategies that may be incorporated into daily routines both within and outside of the classroom.
We team up with coworkers who act as wellness partners to keep each other accountable throughout the school year’s craziness. Having a coworker who is particularly concerned about your mental health sends a strong message: mental health should always be a top priority.
The reaction has been incredible, despite the fact that we are still learning and growing as we implement these new projects. We are making well-being a priority with the support of our school leadership and administration, and the effect was apparent this spring in our classroom practice and our kids’ participation.
Providing a wide range of customized mental health solutions has been one of the cornerstones. Group virtual yoga sessions, guided mindful breathing exercises, mandala coloring, jogging and running partners, meditation groups, and socioemotional discussion groups are among the activities offered to guarantee that all employees may engage in what is important to them.
Bring it to the class.
Teachers indicated that supporting students’ social emotional health was one of the top stresses during the 2022-2021 school year, right alongside teaching in the new virtual classroom, according to a recent RAND Corporation study. It is much simpler to integrate these efforts in classroom routines and engage students in meaningful mental health conversation when instructors provide a solid basis for mental wellness and self-care.
Hamirah Bunch, one of my colleagues, starts each virtual or hybrid lesson with an open conversation about emotions with her early primary pupils. Her pupils establish a daily emotional baseline when they join the classroom by using a “mood meter.” The class checks in throughout the day, enabling Hamirah to assist students’ emotional needs and adapt teaching accordingly. Ms. Bunch also models this behavior by posting her own mood on the mood meter each day and at check-ins to show how instructors experience a range of emotions throughout the day. Communicating these emotions is an important part of developing self-awareness and self-control. What’s the end result? A classroom where the teacher and students feel seen and heard, and where teaching and learning are flexible.
Ms. Bunch’s pupils also utilize the Move This World social emotional learning curriculum’s “10 emogers” to work through days when they may need extra help to be completely prepared to participate. Students then select emotional resilience strategies to use in dealing with these major emotions. Deep breathing, empathy practice, or a quiet stroll are all techniques that encourage students to experience and identify their emotions, express them effectively, and learn to control them constructively.
Allow them to take it into the world.
Students can better model self-care in their own lives if we practice it and model it in the classroom early on.
Self-advocacy necessitates introspection and self-awareness in order to promote and support our own interests and well-being. We have a unique opportunity to support these efforts as educators by providing kids with chances to develop self-advocacy skills throughout their K-12 careers.
Seeing this in action, self-referral accounts for 21% of our high school students who seek out school-based, high-quality counseling services. This indicates that they are aware of their needs and are seeking proactive methods to regulate their emotions. Students who self-refer have realized the value of counseling services for their emotional, social, and physical well-being and have accepted personal responsibility to be their own advocates.
The epidemic has rekindled the need of investing in student mental health. However, in order to reach kids, educators must engage in their own self-care and well-being. Start with your own self-care to ensure you’re giving your kids all they need this back-to-school season.
Photo by Luis Villasmil on Unsplash.
What if we said that teachers, by nature, are stressed out? That is a real possibility, and a scary reality. Stress has a direct correlation to mental and physical illness, and a recent study of more than 1,500 elementary, middle, and high school teachers found that over 50% of teachers experience severe levels of stress on a regular basis.. Read more about sel and self-care and let us know what you think.
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