Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Stressed Out Teachers

You can see the teachers in the playground take a collection deep breathe as the bell rings, mustering their strength to round up their class of kids and start the new day.
The statistics are shocking but just one tells the full picture. The National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers (NASUWT), took a survey which revealed a whooping 76% of teachers believe that workplace stress is making them ill.
The pressures on teachers are increasing:
  • Marking books has always been the bane of any teacher’s daily chore and their workload isn’t getting any smaller. In fact with an increase in targets and bureaucracy, teachers workloads have spiralled out of control.
  • Ofcom inspections and criticism from all quarters, telling teachers how to teach.
  • Attack on their pay and conditions by hated politicians.

An equally worrying statistic is that 51% of teachers have considered leaving the profession in the past 12 months, followed up by an even worse one with 83% saying they feel constantly exhausted because of work.
You could imagine the whispered conversations in staff-rooms across the country, “I don’t know how much more I can take,” says one teacher to another, “the pressure goes up every day, and so does my stress level.” Another would be pulling their hair out, “I’m so stressed. Today a student who speaks limited English was added to my class, and tonight I have to mark report cards. On top of that I have an early breakfast meeting with parents,” while the Headmaster is confessing to his deputy, “Some days my school feels like a powder keg that’s about to explode.”
Teaching has never been so stressful.
Mike Fisher, the founder of the British Association of Anger Management, says anger management needs to be taught in every school across the land, to children, teachers and parents, as part of the national curriculum.
But what good would it do?
The most obvious benefit of combating stress in schools, will be happier schools, in which parents teachers and pupils do a better job and the kids benefit the most.
  • Pupils, teachers and parents will be more calm.
  • Pupils will be more confident and receptive to learning.
  • Classrooms will became exciting places to be.
  • Pupils will respond better to a stress free environment.
  • Behaviour will improve.

Anger management programs don’t promise to banish all the causes of stress in schools, but they do promise to teach pupils, teachers and parents alike, the strategies to deal with their anger issues in a more constructive way.
A simple exercise for any teacher.
As highlighted by Kelly McGonigal during a TED sponsored talk in Edinburgh, the belief that stress is what makes stress stressful is explored. Check out the link here.
So its with this in mind, why not try the well known Decide-First method?
  • Be quiet for a minute or two. Lock yourself in the store cupboard if you have to. Sit on a chair and take a moment or two to meditate.
  • Close your eyes, relax your body and take a deep breathe.
  • Make a decision there and then to remain calm and relaxed throughout the day, no matter what unforeseen circumstance come your way. 

Its that simple. Stay in the car, close your eyes and decide that no matter what happens, you won’t get stressed out about it.

As Kelly McGonigal said in her talk, “when you choose to view your stress response as helpful, you create the biology of courage, and when you choose to connect with others under stress you create resilience.”
Its having that belief of being stress free which washes away the stress. Being stress free in the classroom, is a decision you make.
Stress doesn’t happen to you, you let it happen to you.
Check out what Mike Fisher and the British Association of Anger Management has to offer.
These websites are the perfect place to start.

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