It just goes to show how huge the demands of teaching are on teachers. With even young, dynamic and incredibly dedicated teachers being completely burnt out after very short periods of time!
This article highlights important matters appertaining to stress within the teaching profession. However, it is our experience that most Schools do not have adequate strategies in place to protect teachers from stress. There should be an EAP in place to support teachers as well as dealing with those aspects of their working lives which are impacting them.
Why is it that so many Schools do not have in place well thought out and highly professional services appertaining to stress management? It would seem that the students get better service provision related to counselling and advice with regards to stress management than the staff.
The fact that "teachers have a higher rate of suicide than the general population." is very worrying. In this article like many others what is being looked at is reducing working hours, streamlining functions within work, removing tasks which are superfluous and whilst all well and good, what should also be in place is brief solution focused therapy, tailored to the demands of teaching. At the same time hold workshops on how to manage one's own stress looking at a range of factors including diet, reduction of alcohol and caffeine plus taking appropriate exercise as well as teaching breathing techniques, autogenic therapy, self hypnosis and meditation.
Much more can be done if only educational establishments were proactive.
"teaching is the most stressful occupation in the UK with 41.5% of teachers reporting themselves as "highly stressed". A 2003 survey found that one in three teachers took sick leave in 2002 as a result of work-related stress."
As one can see, teaching is highly stressful, so why is more not being done? And this article was from 2009, imagine what it must be like now?
OK, here is an article in the Guardian which aims to look at ideas to manage and offset some of the stress that teaching staff inevitably find confronts them. The ideas ar very simple and mainly focus on shifting attitudes, learning to time manage and also prioritising. Also some ideas are presented with regards to 7/11 breathing but the technique is not explained properly in this article.
Professionally as a Stress Management Counsellor, I think the artcle is far too simplistic. It aims to present very simple ideas which of course may work to an extent but if a teacher is already suffering from stress overload then it means that demands exceed the perceived coping abilities and capabilities of the teacher. As such these rather simplistic ideas are very unlikely to work due to the fact that the teacher's limbic system will be hijacking their neo cortex. In other words the emotional part of the brain will be dominant and the logical plus analytical frontal cortex will be effectively hijacked.
Far better to learn clearly what stress is for example Eustress and Distress. PLus learn the positive and negative effects of stress whilst identifying the particular triggers in one's life that set off stress in you as an individual. Then learn powerful stress busting methods such as Self Hypnosis, Block Breathing, Rag Doll Breathing, Seven/Eleven Breathing (taught correctly) as well as Auto Suggestion.
Prior to that if the teacher is very stressed it is useful to undergo some sessions of Clinical Hypnotherapy and Psychotherapy with a professionally accredited therapist, to calm down the emotions and to allow clearer thinking patterns to emerge.
Lastly the whole School (Academy. College etc) needs to look at stress within the establishment as a whole because a lot of stress is organisational and therefore no matter how much a teacher is resilient, if the organisation does not have in place good working practices, with clear channels of communication and a respect for a healthy workplace then individual stress management whilst somewhat effective will be hampered by that ineffective organisational style.
This is nothing new then, or is it? The demands placed upon teachers have always been high, far higher than many either in the general public or the private sector would ever dream of. Many see teaching as an easy path, full of what they see as short working hours plus extended holidays. However, there is no other job or very few that have the constant demands of large numbers of interactions within a day (for example, teaching five lessons per day with class sizes of thirty plus will mean over one hundred and fifty interactions with the teacher in any one day, add onto that interactions with other teachers and even parents and one can see that in those terms alone, teaching has very high potential demands in terms of energy and drive.)
Then we must add the constant need to monitor the class for potential disruption, the need to maintain discipline and order so as to maximise student's learning and prevent unruly students dominating a class. Then in addition the rigour of teaching to a prescribed curriculum and having to meet the ever increasing need to improve results year on year, moment by moment.
All of this and more can wear a teacher down and create huge amounts of stress. One is teaching and that in and of itself means one spends large amounts of time with children rather than with adults and that also is a potential cause of stress as one can feel isolated from adult conversation and company.
Lastly throw into the mix, huge amounts of paperwork to record, monitor and catalogue student's performance. A lot of the paperwork appearing meaningless and one can see the huge pressures in this profession.
So it is hardly surprising that stress in teachers is soaring:
Former Secondary School Teacher plus Cross Curriculum Manager. Retrained some fourteen years ago as an Accredted Clinical Hypnotherapist and Psychotherapist. Also trained as a Stress Management Counsellor.
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