Working in schools can be very rewarding and very demanding too! Have you given any thought to why working in schools can be so stressful for some people.
Working in schools is far more complicated than work in many other industries. Staff face unique challenges:
- Much of the day is already scheduled. There is very limited leeway in altering a class schedule, so teachers must work very efficiently with the very limited time that is flexible.
- Schools are people organisations. We deal with the myriad of personality types, social issues and stressors that reflect the broader community – the good, the bad and the ugly.
- We deal with emotive issues that surround one of the most important aspect of anyone’s life – their children.
- Often we have to sensitively address miscommunication issues and respond where parents have not been made aware of all of the information.
- There are many other competing demands on time including demands from administrators, requests from the wider community, contributing to the school’s on-going development and the need to continually professionally develop and update.
- Good teaching requires students to be engaged and suitably challenged. This requires high levels of both energy and skill.
Research shows that the average classroom teacher will make more than 1500 educational decisions every school day. In an average 6-hour school day, that’s more than four decisions every minute. It is no wonder we feel over-whelmed by the demands of our profession.
However despite the circumstances being the same, some staff are less stressed than others by events and situations that occur. Your attitude and thought processes are key factors.
We have choices in how we interpret other people’s behaviour. Based on the behaviour we observe, we make presumptions about their intentions. We jump to conclusions about why they are behaving in that way. By being more optimistic in our presumptions and giving people the benefit of doubt, we lower our ‘fight’ responses and our stress level.
For example: In responding to a parent who is complaining about something that they believe happened to their child on the previous day, try to see the situation from the parent’s point of view. They may be responding to limited information and have a multitude of other factors impacting on them. We don’t know what else has happened to them in the last 24 hours. Choose forgiveness and give them the benefit of the doubt – at least initially!