This article from tes.com recently popped up on my Facebook news feed. The image that came along with it was a woman sitting on a staircase with her head in her hands. I immediately opened the link to read it.
As a budding student teacher, stress is something I do worry a lot about experiencing in my future career. The stress of planning, marking, reaching outcomes, attending meetings, ensuring my pupils are meeting expectations, meeting (and hopefully exceeding) my own.. the list goes on. It’s a stress I know only too well from my last placement: 6 weeks, 5 days of responsibility, what seemed like a million lesson plans, continual assessment (of pupils and of me), daily reflections, weekly reflections, a folder to upkeep, planning and preparing my lesson for my crit for 8 (very, very, very long and stressful) hours. And that was just placement!!! I would be lying if I said I wasn’t reduced to tears on a few occasions. At the time, I put it down to me being an utter cry baby – I cry at corrie on a regular basis – lack of sleep, never-ending workload, and a fear of failing. I almost accepted it as part of the job! I saw no issue with me feeling so stressed, no problem with the fact something I generally loved doing was causing me to feel so under pressure all the time. Is this completely wrong? Should stress really be included in teachings job description?
I understand as a student, we have to do certain things in a certain way that qualified teachers will not, but in retrospect, teachers do everything I was learning to do, all day, 5 days a week, throughout the entire school year. Being constantly watched and assessed, by my class teacher, other members of staff, the pupils, and most of all, my tutor, was difficult but completely mandatory – I was of course a first year student and never taught in a classroom before. BUT – teachers still have to undergo this scrutiny throughout the rest of their career, and their professional development, by fellow teachers, headteachers, the GTCS and HMRI inspections! It’s never ending! Not to mention this is ON TOP of everything else I’ve listed previously. I understand and appreciate it is important for teachers to continually develop, I am making a point that in my opinion it adds to stress. Furthermore, this is only one small part of a teachers day to day obstacles they must overcome.
I’ll always remember in a lecture a few months ago, lecturer Susan Buckman asked us if we thought teaching was a stressful job. Immediately, almost everyone put their hands straight up, including me. She turned round and told us that “it doesn’t have to be”, and that really stayed with me. Reading this article relates a lot with what Susan was saying..
“Teachers, as professionals, expect to work hard but should not be expected to devote every minute of their lives to their work. Teachers need time to relax, to pursue hobbies, to talk to their families and friends. They need time to be human.” Bousted, M. (2015)
I think this is so important. Though working extremely hard is part of the job, teachers need time to unwind and as Mary Bousted says above, be human beings! Stress should not take away from what is otherwise an extremely fun, rewarding and valued profession. Although as teachers we have mountains to climb everyday, it should be a fun journey, where a little stress is good, but not enough to amount to crying on the floor. What could be done to ensure this?
This article touches on so much more than I have even began to mention, so please read and see what you think!
Bousted, M. (2015) ‘I hear of teachers crying on their kitchen floor because of the stress’. Available at: https://www.tes.com/news/school-news/breaking-views/‘i-hear-teachers-crying-their-kitchen-floor-because-stress’ (Accessed: 24 October 2015).