I recently spoke at a conference in Singapore to Pre-School teachers about the importance of self-care.
The thing is, stressed teachers are not effective and teaching is one of the most highly stressed jobs in the world. This is particularly true of pre-school teaching. You simply cannot get away from little children. It is not possible to say, “Open your book to page 123 and carry on with your maths” while you take a moment to leave the room and breathe!
So you have to be PRESENT all the time and that means very good stress management principles are needed.
A recent survey of 30, 000 US teachers in New York found most of them were highly stressed but wanted to stay with their profession because they CARE!
“We ask teachers to be a combination of Albert Einstein, Mother Theresa, Martin Luther King Jr. and, I’m dating myself here, Tony Soprano,” said Randi Weingarten, president of the AFT. “We ask them to be Mom and Dad and impart tough love but also be a shoulder to lean on. And when they don’t do these things, we blame them for not being saviors of the world. What is the effect? The effect has been teachers are in¬cred¬ibly stressed out.”
Teachers often still have young children at home so they do “double duty!”
When we train teachers to use our EQ4KIDZ program we insist on spending 1 day where we focus on teachers’ mental health issues, EQ and stress management. We demonstrate ways to pause and be mindful and discuss helpful daily stress management.
In order to be able to drop all problems at the door of the classroom before entering, teachers need time to spend alone, to think, to plan and to manage their stress levels.
The busy school day must make some “intervals” or “gaps” where teachers can gather thoughts, reflect and re-group.
It is a great blessing to be able to teach the next generation but it is also one of the most taxing, enervating, highly skilled and stressful professions on earth so let’s ensure we do not lose our amazing teachers. The profession needs help!
With the many curriculum changes and challenging behaviours teachers must deal with, stress management is not just a soft option. It is a necessity. Unless all teachers are taught how to manage their stress, care for themselves and recognise unhealthy signs of tension we will have burnt out, fed up and stressed out teachers and unhappy, unsuccessful students.