Coping with Stress as a Professional in Education
Those of us who are not teachers can all assume that a career in education can be equal parts hugely rewarding and stressful. But do you know to what extent those working in education experience stress? According to Teach Wellbeing Index 2018 in the past year 76% of education professionals stated that they have experienced stress symptoms due to their work compared to 60% of other professions.
Why Are Teachers So Stressed?
High workload is a given when you decide to become a teacher, however, the reality is often much higher than expected. Workload is the biggest complaint from employees in the education sector as it can lead to a host of other problems, it is therefore no surprise that it is cited as the main reason teachers leave their jobs.
Having a high workload results in less time throughout the day to complete tasks and causes teachers to work more unpaid overtime than any other profession. 29% of teachers work more that 51 hours in the average week (only 2% are actually contracted to work these hours) which is understandably closely linked to stress.
The difficulty to complete daily tasks within working hours can mean that teachers cannot ‘switch off’. 74% consider the inability to switch off to be another main contributor to a negative work-life balance. Also, working intensively over fewer weeks of the year means heavy periods of stress compared to those with a steady work schedule throughout the year.
Increased accountability can be another major factor contributing to both stress and workload. Accountability can very often can be passed down the line, meaning that those who feel they’re at the bottom of the chain of command, can feel like accountability is imposed rather than achieved.
How To Relieve Stress as a Teacher
- Work out priorities and break down large tasks into smaller ones, this can make the whole workload appear more achievable and less intimidating.
- Learn to say no when you don’t have time to take anything else on or if the task seems unreasonable. Do not agree to too much just because you feel like you should.
- Ensure you have time to look after yourself and spend time with your loved ones despite the long hours, your wellbeing should be your priority.
- Take your time, rushing can make you feel more agitated resulting in more mistakes and you may provide a lower quality work. This can negatively effect your confidence in the long run if you’re not working to your full ability, and can reflect badly on your students.
- Speak up, it’s not good to bottle up your problems. Speak to trusted colleagues, relatives and friends, they will likely understand what you are going through. And if you feel comfortable doing so explain how you feel to senior staff, they may know ways to help.
- Join a professional learning network (PLN) these can be a fantastic support system if you feel like you’re not sure who to talk to. For example, exa.foundation not only provides personal development opportunities for educators across the UK, but also a familiar place to share problems and solutions with peers and like-minded individuals.
- Try your hardest to think positively, remember why you started teaching in the first place, and focus on that when you’re feeling particularly low.
While some may argue that there is much more the Government can do to reduce teacher stress, the new Ed-Tech strategy will encourage the education sector to work together with tech companies and utilise the power of technology to cut teacher workload and support professional development.