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Dear James, teachers I work with are so stressed...is this normal?!

Discussion in 'Trainee and student teachers' started by anon1062, Nov 21, 2011.

  1. Hi James, this is my first post on these forums as I need to talk to someone!!

    I am part way through my first placement in a high achieving grammar school. I am doing secondary MFL pgce. I love my school, I love teaching so far, and I am so lucky with my dept as they are wonderfully committed, helpful and supportive, and pretty good teachers to boot (I believe!).

    My problem is this...since just before half term, a large number of teachers in the school seem to be really, really stressed. Only once has this been sort of taken out on me, but I got over it. It was no big deal.

    I can't say the same really for my fellow trainees, a few of whom are starting to get really overwhelmed and down. Luckily this is not happening to me, however what IS getting to me is being in an environment on a daily basis where lots of the people around you are ranting about their workloads, seemingly heading for the end of their tethers and moreover giving the impression that teaching is so tough, you need to be some sort of machine.

    I am tired, flat out trying to lesson plan and do uni work. But that's all as I expected and all feedback I'm getting is great. But today for example, a very stressed out fellow trainee (who is starting to look increasingly drained) asked for some advice in a meeting and our mentor just reeled off a long rant about HER workload. Which is clearly getting to her.

    I suppose my question is...am I getting the wrong impression of teaching? I have been told that this is the toughest term of all...I am excited to see how things are in my second placement, as I wonder is a high achieving grammar particularly pressurised? Having said that, I am sure a comprehensive presents a whole new set of problems...

    I am not sure really what sort of answer or advice I am looking for. I suppose at the moment the picture of teaching being painted for me is one of constant pressure and misery. I don't want to believe that.

    Will I perhaps notice a general lift in mood as the Christmas holidays approach?

    All advice and thoughts appreciated. Thank you!
     
  2. sleepyhead

    sleepyhead New commenter

    The constant pressure bit is certainly true, and if you don't cope well with that, then I guess that misery is likely to ensue.
    Almost certainly - although you can probably expect it to get worse before it gets better.
    I always tell trainees that teaching is the best and worst job in the world; it has the highest highs and the lowest lows and that can be really difficult to deal with.
    As both a subject mentor and the school's professional mentor, I have a massive workload - but I aim to at least appear calm and serene in front of the trainees. When they're not around, there is a certain amount of ranting!
    The best advice that I can offer is to keep smiling, make cups of tea and generally be supportive. Before anyone arrives to yell at me for using trainees like skivvies, that's not just trainee advice; that's career advice. If I'm free before break, I brew up. If I know someone's having a **** day, a well placed biscuit can lighten their load. This can be (is, to be honest) a job that will take everything from you - I can't even begin to explain how much work I have to do - but a calm head and a large amount of willpower and organisation go a long way!

     
  3. Hello Francesca
    I'm not James but I just wanted to say Welcome to teaching! I wish you a long, successful and happy career!
    I'd also like to answer your questions from my own journey so far, as I think it might help you!
    My problem is this...since just before half term, a large number of teachers in the school seem to be really, really stressed. Only once has this been sort of taken out on me, but I got over it. It was no big deal. I can't say the same really for my fellow trainees, a few of whom are starting to get really overwhelmed and down. Luckily this is not happening to me, however what IS getting to me is being in an environment on a daily basis where lots of the people around you are ranting about their workloads, seemingly heading for the end of their tethers and moreover giving the impression that teaching is so tough, you need to be some sort of machine. I am tired, flat out trying to lesson plan and do uni work. But that's all as I expected and all feedback I'm getting is great. But today for example, a very stressed out fellow trainee (who is starting to look increasingly drained) asked for some advice in a meeting and our mentor just reeled off a long rant about HER workload. Which is clearly getting to her. I suppose my question is...am I getting the wrong impression of teaching?No. Coming across people ranting and raving about their workloads and stress of the job is very common, I'm afraid! If you're happy, the best thing to do is either ignore the people if you don't know them or offer support to those you do (the previous poster made some nice suggestions about ways of doing this), or better still, go away from them when you can, so that you don't have to hear it and can concentrate on your own job! I have been told that this is the toughest term of all...I am excited to see how things are in my second placement, as I wonder is a high achieving grammar particularly pressurised? I'm an A-level Psychology Teacher and have taught the subject in a variety of places (FE colleges, a 6th form college, an adult college, a mixed comp school and a catholic girls school) and can honestly say that it's nothing to do with the type pf place you work in, but rather how it's managed! The better places I've been in have been run by people who as one place put it expect the staff to work hard but also play hard. I.e. There are times, when we SHOULD expect to feel busy and or a bit stressed out, but there will also be times when we can enjoy what we do and have some fun when we get time to relax and have done what we ned to do .Unfotrunately, I've also worked in places where the people running it don't know how to get the best out of students and staff, so the behaviour you describe happens all the time! I left these places as soon as I could and would advise you to do the same if it ever (I hope not and I don't see why it should) happen to you.Will I perhaps notice a general lift in mood as the Christmas holidays approach? You should do, as by then the reports and exams/tests (or silly season, as I call it) should be done and people should find it easier to get round to doing all the other stuff that they didn't get time to do. Easter is also a busy time, so watch out for that!Anyway, hope this reply helped and lots luck with your next placement! Hope it's as nice as your current one!
     
  4. Yes teaching is stressful, so are many other jobs. Yes teachers rant about workload and other things, but you also have to distinguish between actual clinical 'stress' and what I term working stress. With the former, people tend to have severe persobality changes and often they are off ill with common complaints, they can become introverted etc. This needs medical help and attention. The latter is what you see day to day in schools where people are overworked and overloaded, they carry pon, complain loudly, - sort of manage to do what needs to be done and when release from the work is in sight (e.g. near holidy) they release the stress and have a good time. Yes sometimes people snap and 'have a go' but often they will recognise what they ahve done and reflect on it and later try to make up for it some way.
    The workplace in teaching is a strnge beast very different from many other workplaces.
    James
     
  5. Francesca, in my experience the picture you saw is accurate. I've never met a teacher in any of the four schools I've been in that has a relaxed life. School time is highly pressured and home time is at a premium, too.

    The last few weeks before Christmas are great but I actually found that the worst term was the spring one. Christmas is always my favourite time of year at school - carol services, concerts, fairs, activities, and you get to look forward to presents and christmas break and bright lights and all those pretty things.

    After Christmas, what do you look forward to? Easter break? I'm an anti-theist. Summer holidays? Sure, but that's seven months away. Then there's the stress of getting coursework finished around easter time, and revising for exams in the summer months.
     

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