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Stress and us

There are many jobs that are stressful and teaching must surely rank among the highest of them all. However, while the vocation itself is highly demanding, we should remember that different people respond differently to stress. In fact, research shows that an individual teacher’s personality and characteristics are also important factors to consider when assessing why teachers suffer from burnout.[1]

While classroom management and time constraints often contribute to emotional exhaustion and stress, teachers who are idealistic and maintain high expectations of their work do tend to be more susceptible to stress. On the other hand, teachers who persevere less and are less motivated tend to be more detached and cynical so that they would not be so affected by their students’ lack of achievement.

Teaching is heartwork. To design the best lessons and constantly care for their students, teachers put in all their heart into the work they do. And there's a great deal of vulnerability involved when teachers constantly put in all their heart into the work.

Increasing awareness of the whole process of burning out is important and this involves providing more opportunities for teachers to reflect on their coping strategies and self-efficacy. School leaders may work hard to improve the overall school environment and attempt to make the place as cozy and warm to educators. But the key remains within each educator and how they understand their own personalities and ability to respond positively in challenging and stressful times.

Education is a journey of self-discovery. It's a long journey and to last the way, we'll need to understand ourselves better.

[1] Constantinos M. Kokkinos. (2007) Job stressors, personality and burnout in primary school teachers. British Journal of Educational Psychology, 77, 229–243, 2007 The British Psychological Society.

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