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Teacher reading newspaper

I’m a stressed teacher… GET ME OUTTA HERE!

Record Number of Stressed Teachers…

The life of a teacher is rewarding yet demanding. The recent findings reported by Emily Kowal (2024) in The Saturday Telegraph article I’m a stressed teacher… GET ME OUTTA HERE underscores this reality, revealing that in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, nearly 800 teachers in NSW lodged stress leave claims in just one year. This highlights the intense pressure teachers face as they navigate the demands of growing student populations and complex educational landscapes.

Shocking stress leave statistics in teaching
Shocking stress leave statistics in NSW teaching

Teacher Burnout

Even if you aren’t one of the many teachers in NSW who has had to seek workers’ compensation due to stress, you may have felt overwhelmed by the teaching workload. Teacher burnout is a multi-layered condition that transcends mere exhaustion. It’s a profound state of emotional, mental, and physical depletion brought on by continuous stress in the workplace. Educators are particularly vulnerable to this condition due to the intense demands and challenges inherent in their role.

A key symptom of burnout is mental fatigue, which can lead to trouble focusing, a drop in work output, and cognitive weariness. This often surfaces as an unshakable sense of being swamped, which hampers the ability to concentrate and perform effectively. Physical fatigue is also a critical dimension of burnout, characterised by enduring tiredness, stiff muscles, and a weakened immune response.

This deep-rooted tiredness can permeate every facet of life, making it difficult for educators to summon the vitality and enthusiasm necessary to meet their professional duties and connect with their students. Acknowledging the intricate reality of burnout and its influence on the well-being of educators is essential. Grasping its root causes and consequences helps us identify proactive measures to avert and cope with burnout.

Are You At Risk of Teacher Burnout?

For educators, the line between everyday stress and the onset of burnout can sometimes blur. It’s crucial to recognise early symptoms to halt the progression of burnout.

Watch out for these warning signs:

  • Developing a negative or overly critical perspective on your teaching role
  • Losing the drive and passion that once characterised your approach to teaching
  • Feeling short-tempered or impatient with co-workers, pupils, or parents
  • Suffering from low energy and a slump in productivity levels
  • Having trouble maintaining attention and sharpness in your educational tasks
  • Not feeling a sense of pride or satisfaction in what you accomplish
  • Questioning the value and impact of your work in education
  • Changes in your sleep habits, either too much or too little
  • Relying on substances to dull stress or to manage your emotional state
  • Physical symptoms without a clear cause, like persistent headaches or digestive issues

Moreover, burnout can emerge through a spectrum of physical, emotional, and behavioural symptoms.

Physical indications might involve relentless fatigue, spontaneous tears, panic episodes, or escalated blood pressure. Emotional signs can cover a loss of pleasure in life, emotional numbness, anxiety, and feelings of despair. Behaviorally, someone might exhibit withdrawal from social settings, restlessness, and a growing sense of cynicism.

Why are Teachers so Stressed?

Challenging Student Interactions

Managing non-compliance, classroom disturbances, lack of respect, and hostile behaviours can tax teachers’ emotional reserves, leading to feelings of stress and burnout.

Social Emotional and Behavioural Difficulties Course
Need support? The Social, Emotional and Behavioural Difficulties 101 course might be just the ticket.

 

Insufficient Appreciation and Support

When teachers perceive a lack of acknowledgment or backing from school leaders, parents, and the broader community, it can sow seeds of discontent and a perception that their diligent efforts are going unrecognised.

Demands from Above

The pressure to adhere to academic benchmarks can impose a sense of accountability for aspects teachers cannot always influence, fostering feelings of inadequacy and burnout due to unreachable expectations. Many HSC teachers are more stressed about the ATAR results than the students themselves.

Financial Strain

When remuneration does not align with the demands of the job, financial pressures mount. This not only strains personal resources but can also trigger questions about the long-term sustainability of a career in education. That is what we love about Teacher Professional Development. Giving teachers the opportunity to enhance their income by selling their resources and courses through our platform.

The Weight of External Testing

The connection between student performance on standardised tests and job security or performance evaluations can create an overwhelming burden. The focus on test preparation can overshadow the broader, more rewarding aspects of teaching.

Excessive Workloads

Navigating the multitude of duties, from creating lesson plans, assessment tasks, marking, organising excursions, and all manner of extra duties, can lead to a crushing sense of being overtasked and depleted. Can we help? Check out our range of resources to reduce your planning workload. If you need something specific for your cohort of students, get in touch [email protected]. We often receive enquiries for specific niche products, and it makes us feel so blessed to be able to help. Is there an exam you need written or a bank of report comments? Do you need a hand with marking, perhaps just a second pair of eyes across your assessment task before it goes out? Please email us if you think we can assist or support you in any way.

Simple Stress-Busting Strategies

Knowledge of these potential burnout triggers allows educators to engage in preventive strategies to reduce their impact. Grasping the elements that precipitate burnout and embracing preventive self-care measures can act as a shield for educators, enabling them to maintain their passion and positively influence their students.

Consider these simple strategies for maintaining equilibrium:

Set Boundaries

Make your expectations crystal clear to students, their guardians, and your colleagues. By standing firm on your boundaries, you can foster equitable and positive connections and establish a more secure and well-managed learning space. It is also positive for our students to see an adult in their life modelling boundaries. Confront persistent stress head-on by acknowledging when it’s more than just the usual ebb and flow. Don’t hesitate to lean on your support system—reach out to peers, or a trusted friend.

Self-Care is Crucial

When the tide of responsibilities starts to rise, it’s critical to carve out a slice of time for restorative activities. Devote a few moments each day to pursuits that soothe and energise you. Maybe it is listening to an interesting audiobook or podcast on the way to work. It could be singing in the shower or soaking in a warm bath. Spending time with friends or family who uplift you can make all the difference. Booking a regular massage or prioritising some time to walk in nature can be very soothing. Even keeping a brief journal of your day can help bring the glimmers of light in your life into perspective.

Professional Support Can Be Key

At the height of burnout, professional assistance can be a lifeline. If you’re grappling with deep-rooted fatigue or emotional distress, don’t hesitate to seek the aid of a mental health professional. In NSW public schools you can access Employee Assistance Program (EAP) for support. Call them anytime on 1800 060 650. They can offer guidance on stress management, provide a space for healing, and help tailor a personal care plan.

Take a Break and Recharge

When the whirlwind of teaching life intensifies, it can be necessary to step back and take a breather. Giving yourself permission to take a hiatus from the educational arena can assist in mental rejuvenation. Sometimes, taking a break can prevent teachers from quitting the profession altogether. Remember, you’re not in this solo; there’s a myriad of support structures ready to help you reclaim your zest for teaching and life itself. Amidst these challenges, there lies an opportunity for teachers to not only contribute to their professional community but also to find avenues for personal growth and additional income. Selling your teaching resources through platforms like Teacher Professional Development can be an empowering step forward.

Why Sell Your Resources?

Share Your Expertise

You have accumulated a wealth of knowledge and experience. Sharing your resources allows you to contribute to the collective wisdom of the teaching profession, offering support to your peers who might be facing similar challenges in their classrooms. Moreover, the educational landscape itself is evolving rapidly. Technological advancements, changes in curriculum standards, and the shift towards more holistic educational approaches require teachers to be continually updating their methods and materials. They must be adept at integrating technology into the classroom, applying new pedagogical theories, and addressing social and emotional learning aspects—all while maintaining high academic standards. Maybe you have a hidden talent when it comes to integrating technology in the classroom. Share your tech-savvy teaching resources with other teachers whilst making additional income for yourself.

Foster Collaboration

By selling your resources, you open up a channel for collaboration with other educators. This exchange of ideas can lead to better outcomes for students everywhere. The notion of selling educational resources does more than just provide a supplementary income stream for teachers; it fosters a vibrant community of educators dedicated to sharing best practices and innovative teaching methods. This collaborative environment is instrumental in enhancing educational outcomes for students across various contexts.

Sell your lessons with tpd.edu.au
Sell your lessons with tpd.edu.au

Support Work-Life Balance

Creating a supplementary income stream through the sale of your resources can help you achieve a better work-life balance, a crucial aspect that Kowal’s article points out as being under threat for many teachers. For teachers, the demands of the job often extend far beyond the classroom, including lesson planning, marking, reporting, professional development, and student support, which can encroach upon personal time and contribute to burnout. This is where creating a supplementary income stream through the sale of educational resources can be incredibly beneficial. Teachers who need a break can take time out of their careers and avoid burnout, all whilst supporting themselves by selling their teaching resources. Selling your resources with Teacher Professional Development can be completed from anywhere, all you need is a laptop and wifi.

Selling your teaching resources can be done from anywhere. All you need is a laptop and wifi.
Selling your teaching resources can be done from anywhere. All you need is a laptop and wifi.

Recognition and Satisfaction

Receiving feedback from other educators who have successfully used your resources in their classrooms can be incredibly rewarding. Knowing that your work is making a difference in different educational settings can provide a sense of achievement and satisfaction. There is nothing as satisfying as receiving a positive review on the resources you have created. Let’s face it, teaching can often seem like a thankless job, but there are other ways to receive the recognition you deserve. Seeing your resources reduce the stress of another teacher can be very uplifting.

A 5 star review for Barry Whelan's online course.
A 5-star review for Barry Whelan’s online course.

Professional Development

Engaging in the creation and sale of resources can also be a form of professional development. It keeps you at the forefront of educational trends and pedagogical strategies. At Teacher Professional Development, you can even choose to run a course for other teachers, online or in person. It is a very rewarding way to develop your skills and share them with like-minded educators. In response to challenging teaching conditions, it’s crucial for teachers to have access to a supportive community and resources that can help them manage these pressures effectively. This includes professional development opportunities, collaborative planning time with colleagues, and teaching resources that are both engaging for students and easy to integrate into busy schedules. By providing teachers with tools, resources, courses and strategies to navigate these complex landscapes, we can help alleviate some of the pressures they face, enabling them to focus more on what they do best: inspiring and educating the next generation.

Online courses can help teachers learn at their own pace from home.
Online courses can help teachers learn at their own pace from home.

Share Your Inspiration

As student populations increase, classrooms become more demanding due to the varying learning needs and educational goals. Teachers are tasked with creating lessons that cater to this diversity, making sure each student receives the attention and support they need to thrive. This can be a daunting task, given the wide range of abilities and interests within a single classroom. If you have a strategy that works for you, why not share your ideas and supplement your income at the same time? Sharing your inspirational teaching pedagogies may reduce the stress that another teacher is facing.

Inspire other classrooms with your favourite resources.
Inspire other classrooms with your favourite resources.

Take Control Of Your Career 

Quoting Kowal’s poignant observation, “In the past four years, the number of insurance claims made by teachers for psychological injury and stress leave compensation has jumped up 55 percent” (The Saturday Telegraph, 2024). This statistic not only highlights teacher suffering but also the resilience and the untapped potential among educators. Your resources, born out of this resilience, are invaluable.

By taking the initiative to monetise your lesson plans, worksheets, PowerPoints, games and other teaching tools, you are also taking control of your professional journey. In a time when educators are feeling the pressure more than ever, your contributions can make a significant difference in alleviating the burdens of your colleagues and adding income to your pocket. Teachers are sometimes evaluated based on student performance, adding stress to ensure their students meet or exceed benchmarks. This can lead to a focus on test scores and grades, sometimes at the expense of fostering a love for learning and critical thinking skills. The resources that you love using in your own classroom just might be able to ease the stress burden of another teacher. The benefits of selling your quality resources with Teacher Professional Development is a win-win situation.

If you’re looking to make your teaching experience more rewarding, consider this path not just for the additional income, but for the immense satisfaction that comes from helping teachers nationwide to inspire and engage their students. There is no better feeling than seeing your resources being used in the classrooms of other teachers.

Share your knowledge and help other teachers thrive in the classroom.
Share your knowledge and help other teachers thrive in the classroom.

Final Words

Navigating the tumultuous seas of teaching, Emily Kowal’s insightful piece in The Saturday Telegraph, “I’m a stressed teacher… GET ME OUTTA HERE,” shines a spotlight on educator burnout in NSW. With a record-breaking 800 teachers raising the white flag for stress leave in just one twirl around the sun, it’s clear the teaching gig is more rollercoaster than merry-go-round post-pandemic. But fear not, for this isn’t just a tale of woe. Amidst the chaos of the classroom and the never-ending paper chase, there lies a treasure trove of stress-busting strategies and a golden opportunity to turn your woes into wins.

Who knew that the secret ingredients to combating teacher burnout included setting boundaries like a pro, indulging in a bit of me-time, shouting out for help when the going gets tough, and taking a well-deserved breather? They don’t teach you that in Uni. So, as we sail through the stormy seas of the teaching profession, let’s remember that every cloud has a silver lining (or, in this case, a handy set of strategies and a potential side hustle). Let your resources be the beacon for fellow educators as they navigate through their professional challenges. Start sharing your knowledge today, because when one teacher thrives, the entire educational community shines brighter. With a bit of creativity, a dash of self-care, and the magic of mutual support, we can all find our way to smoother waters. Here’s to turning stress into success and making teaching the rewarding adventure it’s meant to be. Cheers to thriving, not just surviving, in the classroom jungle!

Reference:

Kowal, E. (2024, March 23). 800 teachers in post-COVID school exodus. The Saturday Telegraph.

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