Opinion
Education Opinion

You’re Not a NUT, But.....

By Susan Graham — May 12, 2009 3 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

Today was the deadline for encumbering budget money. This week there are two after school meetings to be attended at the far end of the county. I am working on guest blogs for Public School Insights and the Center for Teacher Leadership . Over at Teacher Leaders Network we have a couple of group projects that I want to be part of. In the meantime, the last mid-quarter interim reports go out Wednesday. Our kids are prepping for the state assessment tests so I’m working around remediation pull outs and field trips. A colleague cried in my office today and two of my students had issues that involved family members and jail. Since I’m pretty stressed out myself this week, I could relate when I saw the headline Stress of Term Time is Putting Teachers’ Mental Health at Risk, says NUT.

Great! Now some reporter is calling educators a bunch of nut cases? But wait, the NUT was in England. The article went on to say

Half of all teachers have considered leaving the profession due to stress, citing the long hours, excessive workload, lack of support and poor pupil behaviour, according to the National Union of Teachers (NUT). In addition, a large-scale HSE survey found teaching to be the most stressful occupation in the UK, it said.

Sounds familiar, doesn’t it? Seems it’s not all Eton, Harrow, and Hogwarts over the pond after all. But the Brits are not alone, there are stressed teachers Australia,Taiwan,Latvia, Africaand the Pacific Islands. In fact, my search for teacher stress produced 36,800,000 links.

Are tea sipping teachers in England symptomatic? Are educators a bunch of whiners who can’t cope? I keep searching and stumble on to the Teachers.tv site and discover their How Stressed is Your School? series. This isn’t just about teacher perception or soft psychobabble. It’s hard quantitative medical evidence and multidisciplinary research. Teachers wear biometric vests which provide a live feed of blood pressure, heart rate, respiration, and body temperatures as they go through their instructional day. Psychological surveys probe into what teachers perceive as stress and what they believe helps them cope with stress. Even genetic factors that predisposed one to high stress, due to cortisol, the stress hormone, is investigated. I really need to go to bed, but this is fascinating! I’m hooked and I can’t stop eavesdropping on what’s going on with the teachers at Kings Langley—a formerly failing school that has been reorganized. I’m staying up too late again and slugging down Diet Coke for a caffeine fix. More stress! But I keep clicking to find that

Teacher stress is a much talked of phenomenon, however, there is little consensus between different professional groups regarding its aetiology, or how to tackle it. Based on a review of international research, it is concluded that teacher stress is a real phenomenon and that high levels are reliably associated with a range of causal factors, including those intrinsic to teaching, individual vulnerability and systemic influences.
Surely there’s a silver bullet among all of these sites, but instead I find "
So how can educators handle all of this stress? Unfortunately there is not one answer.
Oh dear, that was stressful! So I go back to TeacherTV for some help from their Stress Relief for Schools series. One of the more interesting aspects of all of this is that there really isn’t one answer--managing stress is a complicated combination of biology, life experience, and reflection. However, it would appear that a person’s ability to manage stress may be one of the more critical factors in teacher success.

This takes me back a recent conversation here at TM with my teacher colleaguesNancy Flanagan and Anthony Cody. When TM editor Anthony Rebora queried,

The recent MetLife Survey of the American Teacher , based on a comparison to past surveys, found that teacher satisfaction has increased markedly over the past 25 years. Has this been your impression? What do you think accounts for the change?

I said, “It does surprise me that teachers feel better [about their work]. Could it be that while we are expected to have high expectations for student performance we might have lower expectations for our own work place satisfaction?”

More stress, but greater satisfaction: What has changed? Our circumstances? Our performance efficacy? Our coping strategies? Our expectations?

I keep turning the question over and over in my head. I don’t know. But I do know that I need to do my yoga, take a nice soaky bath, and get a good night’s sleep because tomorrow’s another day in middle school, so I’m scheduled for full day of stress beginning at 8:20 in the morning. We’re in the end stretch of the year and there’s too much to be done to schedule a mental health day!

The opinions expressed in A Place at the Table are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.


Commenting has been disabled on edweek.org effective Sept. 8. Please visit our FAQ section for more details. To get in touch with us visit our contact page, follow us on social media, or submit a Letter to the Editor.


Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Teaching Webinar
6 Key Trends in Teaching and Learning
As we enter the third school year affected by the pandemic—and a return to the classroom for many—we come better prepared, but questions remain. How will the last year impact teaching and learning this school
Content provided by Instructure
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
School & District Management Webinar
Ensuring Continuity of Learning: How to Prepare for the Next Disruption
Across the country, K-12 schools and districts are, again, considering how to ensure effective continuity of learning in the face of emerging COVID variants, politicized debates, and more. Learn from Alexandria City Public Schools superintendent
Content provided by Class
Teaching Profession Live Online Discussion What Have We Learned From Teachers During the Pandemic?
University of California, Santa Cruz, researcher Lora Bartlett and her colleagues spent months studying how the pandemic affected classroom teachers. We will discuss the takeaways from her research not only for teachers, but also for

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Education Schools Get the Brunt of Latest COVID Wave in South Carolina
In the past few weeks, South Carolina has set records for COVID-19 hospitalizations and new cases have approached peak levels of last winter.
4 min read
Two Camden Elementary School students in masks listen as South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster talks about steps the school is taking to fight COVID-19, Wednesday, Sept. 15, 2021, in Camden, S.C. McMaster has adamantly and repeatedly come out against requiring masks in schools even as the average number of daily COVID-19 cases in the state has risen since early June. (AP Photo/Jeffrey Collins)
Education More States Are Requiring Schools to Teach Native American History and Culture
Advocates say their efforts have gained some momentum with the nation’s reckoning over racial injustice since the killing of George Floyd.
3 min read
A dancer participates in an intertribal dance at Schemitzun on the Mashantucket Pequot Reservation in Mashantucket, Conn., Saturday, Aug. 28, 2021. Connecticut and a handful of other states have recently decided to mandate students be taught about Native American culture and history. (AP Photo/Jessica Hill)
Education Judge's Temporary Order Allows Iowa Schools to Mandate Masks
A federal judge ordered the state to immediately halt enforcement of a law that prevents school boards from ordering masks to be worn.
4 min read
Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds speaks to reporters following a news conference, Thursday, Aug. 19, 2021, in West Des Moines, Iowa. Reynolds lashed out at President Joe Biden Thursday after he ordered his education secretary to explore possible legal action against states that have blocked school mask mandates and other public health measures meant to protect students against COVID-19. Reynolds, a Republican, has signed a bill into law that prohibits school officials from requiring masks, raising concerns as delta variant virus cases climb across the state and schools resume classes soon. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
Education Hurricane Ida Deals New Blow to Louisiana Schools Struggling to Reopen
The opening of the school year offered teachers a chance to fully assess the pandemic's effects, only to have students forced out again.
8 min read
Six-year-old Mary-Louise Lacobon sits on a fallen tree beside the remnants of her family's home destroyed by Hurricane Ida, in Dulac, La., on Sept. 4, 2021. Louisiana students, who were back in class after a year and a half of COVID-19 disruptions kept many of them at home, are now missing school again after Hurricane Ida. A quarter-million public school students statewide have no school to report to, though top educators are promising a return is, at most, weeks away, not months.
Six-year-old Mary-Louise Lacobon sits on a fallen tree beside the remnants of her family's home destroyed by Hurricane Ida, in Dulac, La., on Sept. 4, 2021.
John Locher/AP