Teachers are miracle workers in my book!
Teachers are some of my favorite people ever! My admiration for them is immense. Think about it. Elementary teachers have a class of students that they spend the entire day with through thick and thin. It’s like being a parent to 25-30 children AND getting them to accomplish multiple tasks while addressing different learning styles, behavior challenges all while making it fun! Middle and high school teachers probably deal with 100-150 students in a day, keeping them focused on the specific material and concepts that are their specialty. I am amazed and in awe when I work with teachers! Their passion for helping our future generations become our future community comes with a lot of responsibilities which can lead to STRESS!
Consequences of Teacher Stress
Teacher stress is real. In an issue brief produced by Penn State University supported by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, 46% of teachers report high daily stress during the school year.1
There are consequences that come from teacher stress. We continually add federal, state, district, and school policies that increase procedures and accountabilities for teachers we start to see an impact. Stress can impact teachers personally. Lower performance, illness, lack of positive emotional health, higher absenteeism, and higher than usual turnover rates are just a few things that can cause impact in a school. If teachers aren’t functioning at their best level due to stress it can cause other unintended consequences. Lower student achievement as teachers are struggling they have more behavior management issues which means less time for teaching academics. Less continuity for students if teachers leave which can lead to lower student achievement. Higher education costs from dealing with teacher turnover.
What can be done?
We know that stress management is crucial for teachers and that professional development focused on coping strategies can be helpful physiological and psychological benefits and can support great academic achievement. Workplace wellness programs that encourage lifestyle changes that focus on physical ways to reduce stress. Mentoring programs connecting more experienced teachers with new teachers have also shown promise.
There has been a lot said about teaching children social and emotional learning (SEL) skills and I would like to add that it is important to teach teachers how to teach their students SEL skills. Give them the freedom to learn and practice SEL strategies that will support their students in the classroom but will also allow them to do their own self-reflection on their strengths as teachers, remind them why they became teachers, and help them understand that we don’t expect them to be super heroes or miracle workers. Encourage them to take care of themselves emotionally and physically so that they can be their best in the classroom. It’s not a “new” concept to take care of yourself in order to take care of others. That’s an old adage. Let’s start focusing our teacher professional development on decreasing teacher stress to give them the tools they need and deserve keep up with the increasing demands of their profession!
1Copyright 2016 Robert Wood Johnson Foundation | September 2016