With Exam Season At Its Peak, Here’s What Can Be Done To Keep Teachers From Feeling Burnt Out

Posted: January 23, 2020

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With exams right on top our heads, it’s not just the parents and students who’re stressed but teachers too! Here’s what can be done to relieve them.

During the flight safety briefings, passengers are reminded, in case of emergencies, to secure their own oxygen masks before helping their kids. That’s because only once you know how it’s done, you can do it for your little ones. The same truth applies to mental health as well, and it is something teachers need to consider.

As a teacher, you share a unique relationship with all your students. While providing proper education is imperative, it is also essential that teachers develop an emotional bond with their students.

However, it is difficult to discuss good mental health and wellbeing in front of a class, if you as an adult do not practice it yourself. Only when teachers knows how to support their mental health and wellbeing, will they be able to provide a supportive learning environment. 

Key causes of stress in teachers

Today, it is the responsibility of the school administrators to support the wellbeing of their teaching staff. This because it not only has an adverse effect on teachers but also directly affects classroom outcomes. 

According to a recent survey, 77 percent teachers said that their poor mental health is holding back the pupils’ progress. 

Here are some of the biggest stress triggers for teachers:

  • Workload- The most cited causes for teacher stress is increased workload. They spend hours planning lessons, inputting data, assessing pupils and marking homework. Though a school-day is shorter than a standard office day, many teachers put in many extra hours before and after school.
  • High-stake job demands- Heightened attention towards student test scores has put teachers under increased scrutiny. Quite often, their professionalism is measured by performance of the student. Also, the demanding needs of parent put unwanted pressure on them. 
  • Bad behaviour of students- Disruptive student behaviour can create tension in a classroom, thus pushing learning to the background. This behaviour impacts more than the student involved, which makes the atmosphere detrimental to study.   

Student achievement & teacher health

Teachers are usually the people who educate children to become the best individuals, thus they have a significant influence on their development too.

To work effectively as a teacher, it is important to be aware of your own physical and mental stability. The best practice is to identify the factors that play a major role in determining stress levels and manage them. 

In a recent study, medical researchers found that classrooms where teachers admitted to higher levels of burnout, students too had higher levels of the stress hormone cortisol. Teachers who are mentally and emotionally disengaged from their students are less effective teachers too. Also, student performance is significantly impaired by disinterested teachers.

Solutions to teacher stress

The school organisation has an important role to play to help teachers stay in education, and remain happy and healthy while they do so:

  • Authorities can set up workshops and support programs to alleviate teacher stress before it becomes overwhelming.
  • Wellness programs too can improve the health outcomes of teachers.
  • Social and emotional programs can help teachers manage their students more effectively and help reduce anxiety. 

Importance of student mental health

The importance of teacher mental health is invaluable to the wellbeing of a student. However, at times, a student’s poor mental health can also hamper their ability to focus on learning. 

Lack of motivation to attend school, lack of participation in extra-curricular activities and unwanted thoughts are common mental health symptoms in students. If not addressed on time, they can be a potential barrier to their learning. 

Close to 80 percent students do not receive the mental health care they need at school.

Teacher-Student Mental Health: A Two-Way Street

For a teacher to teach effectively and for a student to grasp and learn effectively, it is important that both are of sound mental health.

School personnel play a vital role in providing support and watching out for warning signs in teachers and students who face issues. An adequate counselling program can enhance the teacher-student relationship. 

Remember, more supportive school communities lead to more positive outcomes for students as well as teachers, and is the key to proper education.

A version of this was first published here.

Picture credits: Screenshot from movie Mai Hoon Na

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KARISHMMA V MANGAL Director and Trustee, Thakur International School – Cambridge Karishmma V Mangal has established

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