Stress Management Strategies for Teachers
It is not new information as to how teachers in Nigeria are rarely appreciated well enough. Apart from the fact that we have days set aside to celebrate them, many of them are not well taken care of in the school they work. When people talk about teachers resigning, the first reason they think of is pay – this is one of the numerous factors that causes teachers to resign from teaching in a school.
There are teachers who give reasons like job dissatisfaction, poor working conditions, classroom resources, unsupportive leadership, and lack of autonomy, to name a few as to why leave. What we often time fail to realize is that it isn’t only the teachers that suffer, the school turnover, student outcomes, and the like also suffer from it.
Here we will take a look at some of the common stressors for teachers, and share effective ways to address the issue.
The True Causes of Teacher Stress
We should understand something, teachers are people. They have their own obligations, they face health issues and family problems just like any other person. Some might already be struggling with mental health challenges like depression, ADHD, anxiety disorder, and others like that.
Here are some common contributors to stress for teachers in school:
On top of that, consider some common workplace contributors that can burn teachers out fast:
Long hours: It’s not uncommon for teachers to take their heavy workload home with them. Many spend their evening hours grading papers or planning lessons rather than decompressing and practicing self-care.
Resource shortages: It’s not just a dearth of textbooks on bookshelves. Teachers often don’t receive the tools they need to help struggling students who are struggling inside (and outside) the classroom.
Compassion fatigue/Burnout: Teaching is a “caring profession” – in other words, it revolves around looking after others. These kinds of jobs carry emotional labor above and beyond classroom tasks and activities, which can wear teachers down over time.
Unsupportive Culture: When teachers feel like colleagues and school administration aren’t taking their concerns seriously, they don’t feel like valued members of the team – or like their opinions matter.
Interpersonal Relationships: Not only are teachers tasked with managing behavioral problems inside their classroom, but they also encounter stress from dealing with difficult parents.
Toxic Positivity: Teachers are expected to be patient, stable, caring, and controlling. But under that mask of positivity, they suppress their real struggles to meet the expectations of their profession.
Although individual interventions may help teachers deal with in-the-moment stressors, organizational interventions are better equipped to stop stress before it becomes a problem – and can be more effective as a whole.
So what can schools do to help manage teacher stress?
- Create a Supportive Workplace
A supportive workplace is one in which teachers have strong leadership from their principal, where they collaborate openly with their colleagues, and where there are structures in place for wellbeing.
- Listen to & Involve Teachers
Let teachers know their opinions matter by giving them a seat at the decision-making table. Set time aside to listen to their concerns and work with them to find solutions to their problems. Then show them that their voices are being heard through your actions.
- Introduce Coping Skills into Professional Development
Educating teachers on effective strategies for mental health management as part of their ongoing professional development sends the message that their wellbeing is important. It can also help normalize talking about mental health in the workplace.
- Encourage Mentorship
Teachers (especially those who are new to the profession) can benefit greatly from the experience of others who have been there before. Mentoring can also connect teachers across grade levels and subject areas to share insights and promote more effective communication.
- Provide the Right Resources
Teachers and school staff alike can benefit from access to apps, support groups, websites, books, and podcasts that discuss mental health and stress-busting strategies. Not only can these resources help manage an in-the-moment crisis, but they can also prevent a crisis from happening in the first place.