By Maggie Sperry
Teachers have a big impact on the students they teach. They affect things like how the students learn to what they end up choosing as a career. However, teaching has been reported as one of the most stressful jobs, and when teachers start to face these high amounts of stress, it ultimately has an affect on the students and even the community.
In a study done by the Pennsylvania State university, they found that high teacher stress, leads to students showing lower levels of both social adjustment and academic performance. ScienceDirect also performed a study, consisting of 14 teachers in grades fourth through seventh and their approximated 400 students. They assessed teacher burnout and the levels of the stress hormone cortisol their students had. In the end, they found that students had higher levels of cortisol if their teachers reported higher burnout levels.
Also according to the university, 46 percent of teachers have reported high amounts of daily stress which can compromise their health, sleep, quality of life, and teaching performance.
Molly Brooks, a French teacher at East, spoke on the stress she faced during her day. “There is daily stress with the amount of work that we have because, for me, I teach three different preparations. Not every teacher has that many preparations, but I have three separate curriculums that are at three different levels. Making sure I have lessons that apply to three different levels and the hundred of kids, with their different needs, that’s so stressful for me. [I want to] make sure I am doing a good job addressing all of the students in my classes.”
The stress teachers face comes from many places, including requirements set forth by the state and district.
“I feel like there is a lot of unneeded stress put on teachers for these hoops we have to jump through,” stated Brooks. “I don’t feel like they lead to student achievement and student learning. They take away from teacher productivity and the time that I can spead developing things that would be useful to my students. It can be time consuming and needlessly stressful,” Brooks stated.
While the stress teachers face affects the students, it also affects the educator’s career path. Mark Greenberg, a professor of psychology and human development at Penn State, estimated that between 30 and 40 percent of teacher quit within their first five years of teaching. This, in turn, is said to cost taxpayers and schools billions of dollars a year.
Nonetheless, there are ways to help alleviate some of the stress teachers are facing. The Pennsylvania State University study stated that mentoring programs, social emotional learning, workplace wellness, and mindfulness can improve teacher well-being and student learning.
Brooks touched on this saying, “I think professional development it’s really geared towards teacher needs and topics, because general ED doesn’t help a language teacher and I need things that are really specific to me. We have about one conference a year and the district doesn’t always pay for us to go but I went this year and it was really awesome and helpful. That’s the best support they could offer us, would be more differentiated for each teacher and what they teacher.”
Brooks said that between the last two years there has been a lot of stress taken off her shoulders because of the media center staff, East media specialist, Hallet Tyson, East ELA coach, Nick Winstead, and East’s ITF person, Ashley McBride.
“It’s weird because for a long time I felt like there was nothing, but they have been amazing and ridiculously helpful, I do feel supported now and that has taken away a lot of the stress,” Brooks explained.
Overall, teachers feel high amounts of stress and more systems need to be put in place to help them. Students want a good education but they can’t get that if their teachers are constantly feeling stressed out.
Photo courtesy of www.huffingtonpost.com