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Tuesday 17 December 2013

CBC News: Teacher Stress is Killing my Profession

Enjoyed this article about teacher stress and the changing world of teaching. It was posted in 2009 but just came up on my facebook feed recently. While I agree with some of the statements, I wonder about the long term impact of this systemic change to our profession.

he reality of every teacher trying to make even a modest go at this profession is a life of almost constant stress, overwork and, at times, emotional exhaustion.
Anyone who enters the teaching profession thinking otherwise is in for a rude awakening. 
So why am I griping? I chose this profession and I enjoy what I do. 
Well, it is because a storm of new and increasingly unrealistic demands, coupled with a noticeable decline in support from many principals and parents, is contributing to a growing incidence of illness among teachers, including mental illness due to work-related stress. 
I should note that teaching has not broken me. But it has broken the sanity and soul of some very motivated teachers I know. 
Burn-out profession? A Saskatchewan study says almost 60 per cent of teachers face job stress. (Associated Press file photo)
"I think that the whole idea of teaching has changed in the last 15 to 20 years," says Emily Noble, past-president of the Canadian Teachers' Federation. 
"People are dealing with more high-need students, with more multicultural issues and with no-fail policies.
"Teachers want to make a difference, but the supports are just not there."

The best are falling

Add to this the largely undocumented group of what I call the walking wounded, those teachers whose energy levels have been sapped so much by all the new administrative demands that they have little left over to give directly to their students.
I have occasionally heard it said that these increasing demands and stresses are a positive development because they will weed out those whose commitment to the profession may be problematic.
But in my experience, it has been the most highly motivated and committed teachers who undergo the most stress and who break down simply because they truly care for their students and, against the odds, try to deliver.
Mediocre teachers, it seems, have less of a problem in detaching their personal well-being from that of their students. And that is not just my view.
"Burnout is more common in the young, highly motivated, energetic, hard-working teacher," says Prof. Martin. "The people who burn out are the people who pour everything into it without balance." 

Read the entire article here 

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