Stress in Teaching

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Guardian newspaper blog

Posted on June 11, 2012 at 7:05 PM

Teachers don’t know what stress in says Sir Michael Wilshaw. (Who has added to it)!

Teacher-stress: what do you do? Count up to 11? Reach for the wine?

Teachers taking time off with stress-related illnesses need help and support. They account for an estimated £4.5 million each year in school costs. There is a duty of care.

You have a really difficult class/duty/meeting schedule. Or perhaps you are not achieving your target results and you are beginning to doubt your abilities. You finally pluck up courage to talk to your line manager, but he/she seems even more stressed that you! She tries to advise you, but you can’t describe the depth of your emotional state. You never seem to have the time to finish things … Familiar?

So how do teachers cope?

The answer is that they carry on but with a sense of fear, especially on certain days of the week. They may even start to dread those days. If things don’t get better their self-confidence might begin to decline, and this will have an effect on all aspects of their life, not just their teaching.

The extract below records a couple of meetings with one of my clients: real name not James! He has given permission to have these details released.

Session 12 March 2012

James came today with a worry about his demanding line manager. We talked about black and white thinking, where everything tends to be seen in very ‘stark’ terms. Also computer thinking, where people tend to try to be ‘perfect’ and anything that does not measure up is seen as a weakness. Then we looked at the MYE programme, (available through www.stressinteaching, see below) which also helped. I talked through a coaching scenario with his line manager, and suggested that he actually volunteers to take over some of the role and write this into his performance management targets: this will then be passed to the head.

This will have one of two effects. Either the head will back it, and it will be excellent for James' career development, and he will get some CPD to help him. Or, the head will tell James that the tasks he is suggesting he takes on should actually be done by the HOD. In either case, it will be a win for James. Session ended with some re-affirmations of James' strengths.

James story continues, see the blog at www.stressinteaching.com

James’ experiences are not unique. For many teachers though it is hard to get past the feeling that to admit to stress is a weakness. As a client once told me, ‘If I told the head, I would see my career lights going out one by one’.

So may teachers feel they have no choice other than to live with their emotional turmoil, by asking the doctor for anti-depressants, by over-drinking, over-eating, over-working, taking drugs etc. You may eat chocolate or cakes at break for the sugar-rush but regret it by lunchtime. You may put your head down and rush past students on the corridor in case you need to deal with poor behaviour, so you end up ignoring it. After all, other people get paid more than me. You may have to wait weeks/months to see a counsellor. How can this be right? If you broke their leg it would be treated straight away!

Stressinteaching.com offers 3 alternatives

1. The downloadable eBook, packed with practical advice for teachers and TA’s

2. One to one, small or large group mentoring or coaching

3. The MYE Programme

 

What is MYE?

• The MYE Programme is unique.

It is uncomplicated on-line emotional help.

• The MYE is aimed at teachers experiencing mild to

medium depression, anxiety, low mood or stress who perhaps might not normally ask for help.

How does it work?

• You fill out an online questionnaire which leads to an instant, personalised, confidential report indicating their current dominant state of mind. You might for example be a ‘Prisoner’, or you may be ‘Drowning’.

• You read the report and decide whether to change the way you feel. If you decide to make changes you can press the 'I Want to Change' button, which in itself is a very positive and powerful statement.

• You are then provided with your own instant online personal action plan.

• The action plan is designed to be followed by working from the computer and in your personal MYE Journal. The meditations within the action plan are also printed in the journal.

The Action plan includes many techniques and tools to help teachers to deal with their emotions and to make positive life-changes. After one week you will receive an invitation by e-mail to complete a follow-up questionnaire. This triggers a new report, showing your progress, and any impact on your emotions and thoughts.

Or you could just count up to 10: but remember the words of the immortal of Nigel in Spinal Tap, ‘our nob goes up to 11’!

 

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