Kathryn Lovewell is a former teacher who is now a consultant in wellbeing and emotional resilience. This is one of the articles in our National Teacher Enquiry Network Easter 2013 newsletter(sign up here).
Teaching is the best job in the world. Watching your students grow and blossom is the reward for hours of prep, marking and meetings. This is the life blood that feeds our heart and makes us want to get up in the morning and do it all over again. The sad thing is that the “juice” is often squeezed out of teachers and teaching. The pressure of targets, league tables and exam results dilutes the magic that is the very nature of a great teacher.
Teachers are on the frontline. If they are not “fit” to cope with the never-ending, ever-changing series of demands and pressures they face moment to moment, they will not provide the quality teaching and learning experience expected of them. They will not be the great teacher they aspired to be when they entered the profession.
The ill effects of stress on teachers are obvious and easily recognised. A stressed teacher will have increased adrenalin pumping through their body. Their heart rate will be higher than normal, generating high blood pressure as a measurable symptom. They are likely to be more easily agitated, less tolerant, quick to judge and of course feel fatigued and run down. They will often be rushing or at least feel rushed inside. Their body will not be the only mechanism to signal high levels of stress. Their mind will be full, racing and possibly turbulent. Negative thoughts are likely to be rampant and the inner critic is usually at the helm. They will have little or no head space. Their creativity will be stunted and their ability to think clearly will take great effort. Their emotional landscape is potentially in tatters. Self esteem can plummet and low morale is common when teachers are out of balance.
According to the Health and Safety Executive, teaching is among the top five occupations affected by work-related stress, with 70% of teachers and lecturers saying their health has suffered because of their job (Labour Force Survey). Former Primary Head teacher, John Illingworth is just one casualty of chronic stress rife in the education system. He believes “Depression, anxiety and burnout have become the teachers’ diseases…” The Teacher Support Network survey stated “Working in education is bad for your health!”
Unlike many other professions, teachers are constantly exposed to emotionally provocative situations and have limited options for self-regulation. When a student is blowing a gasket, they are usually given the option of taking time out, catching their breath or leaving the classroom to cool off. A teacher cannot do this. A teacher must stay in the room, no matter what the circumstance or however unpleasant the situation. They must stay in charge, take the higher ground, rise above the provocation. This is enormously draining, emotionally and mentally. Left unaddressed, this chronic stress will produce deadly outcomes. Teacher suicide is now 40% higher than the national average.
The ill effects of stressed teachers on learning are equally obvious. Learning is less likely to take place if the teacher isn’t well. If the teacher feels physically ill they will be distracted by their symptoms. Something as simple as a headache can have serious implications on learning outcomes. Headaches are a common problem for many teachers – have you ever tried to explain an important point to a friend or colleague when your head is thumping? It’s hard enough one to one. Try one to thirty. Learning is very difficult if the classroom is not managed well and behaviour is hard to manage when a teacher is struggling to stand up – literally and metaphorically. Poorly managed behaviour is a recipe for disruption in the classroom. Learning is repeatedly interrupted, stilted or stopped altogether.
Effective communication is limited or non-existent. It is far harder to access the parts of the brain that enable clear communication when stress is the overriding force in the mind/body. Learning is less likely to be positively facilitated if the teacher is under par. When teachers resort to shouting as a means of communication, there is little doubt that productivity, respect and control (both self-control and classroom management) is lost. This is not quality teaching. There is no space for fun, creativity, rapport building, healthy interaction or learning. Teachers and students both lose. Relationships are key to productive, progressive learning. You know from your own family, that without happy healthy relationships, there is no hope of honest, open communication, respectful attitudes, kind behaviour or constructive support. There is no room to grow, develop or understand how to be assertive rather than reactive,aggressive or passive aggressive.
Stress weakens the immune system. Low immune system means sickness. Sickness leads to teacher absence. Long term unaddressed stress equals long term absence. Teacher absence generates extra workload for colleagues, a disrupted curriculum and inadequate learning. Financial implications are obvious. A school with low staff retention rates generates low levels of quality learning. This is costly for the school’s budget and reputation, the tax payer, the remaining staff and most importantly the student.
Teaching at its best arises from healthy teachers who are well rested, open minded, clear thinking and compassionate towards the challenges of learning. A Mindful teacher is fully present, able to support and encourage whilst simultaneously challenge their students to reach beyond expectations or self doubt. Relaxed teachers are flexible teachers. Flexible teachers are more likely to be resilient. Their ability to bounce back after interruption, disruption or situations out of their control (Jonny setting off the fire alarm, Jenni crying because her mum is seriously ill or Oli punching Ryan for looking at him “funny”) is the key to managing the inevitable stress of holding the energy of groups of young people and endeavouring to engage them in subjects that may not rock their world.
Quality teaching is the result of having an underlying structure that supports both the learner and the teacher. If the structure does not allow space to breathe for those within in it, the inhabitants are sure to suffocate. Well-being for teachers (and students) is not a fluffy, nice to have. It’s not a luxury for the end of term and it should not be seen as a bolt on or added extra. Well-being in schools is a fundamental pre-requisite for healthy, constructive and productive quality teaching and learning. Both students and teachers need to be supported, fit and well to be inspired and inspiring.
Felicia Huppert, Professor of Psychology and Director of the Well-Being Institute at Cambridge University describes how economic growth is not the only indicator of progress for many governments. Citizen well-being is now growing to be accepted as equally important. Well-being is not just about happiness. It is much more than this. It is about living life well, developing ourselves and our full potential; developing relationships with ourselves and others and contributing to our society, our world. This is “flourishing!”
The UN High Level Meeting on Happiness and Well-Being (April 2012) advocates a new economic paradigm with well-being at its core. Why would education not do the same? Flourishing teachers inspire students to flourish. Flourishing teachers create the foundations for learning to flourish. Flourishing leaders in education enable teachers to live a balanced life inside and outside school, which in turn delivers an implicit message that teachers and their well-being are valued and valuable. Flourishing schools provide the bedrock for balanced perspectives, balanced approaches, balanced attitudes and balanced living – for all. What are you doing to ensure your teachers are fit, well and flourishing?
You can read more about Kathryn’s work in her new book, Every Teacher Matters. There is also further information on her website: http://kathrynlovewell.com/
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Teachers play important role in our life to become successful in career and business. A good teacher helps us to become good human being in the society and good citizen of the country. Teachers know that students are the future of any nation.
So the future development of any nation is in the hands of teachers. What we become in life is depends on teachers. Teachers impart the data and information in the brain of students to analyze. Analyzing in the situation what is possible is the most important thing that we learn from teachers.
Appreciation of teachers is very important because they are most important people in the country. What we’re seeing today in business, politics, and society all affected by teachers. So, in India, we celebrate teacher day every year on 5 September on the occasion of the birth Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan (5 Sep 1888 – 17 April 1975).
“Teachers should be the best minds in the country” – Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan
Today the people are changing and their thinking and development ideas are more against nature. Now for the world, a teacher is just a teacher. Politician just speech on teachers day on the occasion and forget. People share few post on social media regarding teacher and then forget. People forget more things than they are learning from teachers.
Schools and students celebrate the teachers day occasion and appreciate the efforts teachers are doing. This is great if people should follow the lessons of teachers.
The real gift for teachers is when students become a good human being, successful in their career and business. Not all teachers are good in teaching and similarly, not all students are like “Shishya and Guru” especially in the modern era. Some teachers are great and they are always in heart of students.
Students look up to teachers for advice and guidance. Students not only interested in academic lessons but they are interested to follow their life lessons. That’s why it’s highly important for teachers to inspire students to follow good habits not bad by their own example. An education is important in everyone’s life and plays various roles in different stages of life. It’s important that people realize the importance of teachers and follow their lessons.
Related: Great Teachers are good Human Being, Professional and Leader
How teachers bring changes in student’s life
For me, teachers are the real VIP’s, not politicians. We need teachers on every step of life and career. Teachers are not only important for students but also for society. Presence of teachers in any meeting and social activities boost the moral and make the time more valuable.
Parents are also teacher where kids become what they want to be. Teachers are not only human being but they are like natural plants.
A leader is a teacher in some cases where he/ she teach how to lead a company. Parents are also teacher where kids become what they want to be. Teachers are not only human being but nature, plants, table, pen,
Teachers are not only human being but nature, plants, table, pen, the internet, society all are teachers if we see these things from the eyes of the learner.
Life is a teacher. Time is a Teacher.
It’s depending on us what we think and how we think and what is the impact of our thinking on society and our career. When we learn we become creative and creativity leads us thinking and execution of thinking make a great from good and good from average. According to what I understand so far from these lines of Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam.
“Learning gives creativity. Creativity leads to thinking. Thinking provides knowledge. Knowledge makes you great.” ― A.P.J. Abdul Kalam.
I am not capable to explain the meaning of this great teacher but I will try. In this case, we learn from teachers that give us creativity. Creativity in students mind leads to thinking right or wrong. Taking a right decision in right time give us great results. These results bring changes in our life. Here are my thoughts about the importance of Teachers
Teachers build a society with good human being.
“To me, the sole hope of human salvation lies in teaching.” – George Bernard Shaw
Teachers help us to become a good human being. Good human being can contribute to the development of society. A developed society with good people helps others to become successful and happy.
The ideology and morals help people to learn how to handle relationships in life. Teachers help us and show how to interact with different personalities. These things really matter later in the life of students. This is why teachers are an important pillar of society.
Today our society need to understand and analyze right and wrong. We need people who think about the future and create solution those are nature-friendly. We need leaders who drive the nation into the development and independence. For the development of society, we can’t only depend on teachers.
We should need to execute their lessons in the society. We need to support people as a society to become successful. We need to post and share good things on social media that make others happy and positive. We need to explore possible solutions. We need to appreciate good things.
But this is not possible without self-analysis. Today I think societies are influenced by media. Media explore what they think right or wrong. It’s ok that they are doing their duty. But we all need to analyze that our duty is not to explore bad things but good things. What is coming generation learn from this kind of social media and politicians whereas they just criticizing each other for the voting purposes?
That’s why we need great teachers in schools who think about the future of the country. Teacher’s roles are really important to teach students what is right or wrong and what the effects of doing certain things.
I am no body and I think we don’t need designations to the good things. – Vijay Sharma
Teachers play a great role in the economic development of the country.
If a country is to be corruption free and become a nation of beautiful minds, I strongly feel there are three key societal members who can make a difference. They are the father, the mother and the teacher. A. P. J. Abdul Kalam
Teachers help us to become high-quality professionals. Only professionally qualified people produce quality services and products. Which play the huge role in the economic development of the country.
There are often you see the bad customer support, cheap quality products, dishonesty cases with customers. These are really very bad people. Even politicians, movie stars support these people. We can’t change these people today. But we can lead and guide coming generation on the right path.
The right path is where customers are not cheated. Where good products are endorsed by good people. It’s tough even after giving a certificate of honesty. We are influenced by some group of people to the wrong direction.
We need to understand that what is good for us along with society. Never make your decision inspired by politically people, never make decision-based on news channel or politically inspired dialogues.
We need to analyze facts and figures before taking a decision even before giving votes. Also, our election commission or authorities also need to test political leaders before giving them the ticket or authority to fight the election. It’s ok that I don’t have enough knowledge yet about such things. But today we all need good people in our government, businesses and in jobs. These people are not coming from another planet. All are coming from schools and colleges after taking degrees. Degrees are not a guarantee that someone is educated and know better than without degree people. Yes, education matter. But I think only practical education can develop the country.
So, for in the economic development, we need people who can take a risk and who are confident to start a business. Who can create new and innovate down market to a new level? This is not possible without getting lessons from expert teachers. Teachers teach students by real-time examples. Teachers can modify and change the world.
That’s why governments and especially Indian government should invest more money and allocate more budgets on education and high-quality professional teachers and education infrastructure in schools.
Why teachers are great role models in individual’s life
Educationists should build the capacities of the spirit of inquiry, creativity, entrepreneurial and moral leadership among students and become their role model. A.P.J Abdul Kalam
A teacher helps to become a great leader. Great leaders build a nation. Leaders play a huge role in the personal development of an individual. Great leaders inspire thousands of people to go into the right direction. Great leaders learned and followed the path provided to them by a teacher in schools and college times. Almost all good leaders will agree that they have learned valuable organization skills, personal development skills from teachers. These skills helped them to reach where they are today. They used their creativity in the right direction. Some students are great. Not because they are born with greatness but because teachers helped them to become what they are today. That’s why teachers are great human beings who know about the future.
A student is like soft clay in the hands of his teachers. Students mind can be mounded into any shape in tender age. If taught well by his teacher he can become an important tool for the society. If taught wrong he can become a weapon of destruction. We have an example today we often see on the news channels. A good teacher attitude reflects upon the students easily. Why, because students meet teacher every day for many years and replicate his mannerism and habits.
But not all colleges and teachers are good to increase the moral values of students. Few colleges and teachers just teaching for money and students are directed to earn money. These kinds of salary lover teachers drive the career of students in the wrong path. Some of the students from such teachers got the job by the approach of minister and influencers. This kind of teachers produces corrupt leaders, doctors, and bureaucrats. But good students and well sanskari one’s, honest students and intelligent getting job and starting a business after studying from such great principled teachers.
That’s why it’s really important to handover your child in a school where the teachers are great, professionally, personally and in social behaviors.
Importance of Teachers in India
Only teachers can develop nations no one else, everything else will destructive creativity. Even technology development and advanced technologies are destructive for nature.
Technologies are creating new natural resources it’s because today’s education especially content observation on the Internet is technical. Positive creativity and development that is nature-friendly only possible by teachers.
It’s because when practical teachers teach they explore and teach you about the connection of our life with nature. As I already told various times on my articles that we are the part of nature.
Humans are the part of nature. Nature, trees, plants, soil, water, animals and birds and all other natural resources that unfortunately we treat badly are our families.
But who teach and explore these things in children’s/students mind to think about it other than real and practical teachers? Is it social media, paid media or politicians? Never!
But today teachers are fighting with technologies, government policies, and social media and they have to fight.
Student’s minds are creativity they understand and implement things better adults. That’s why it’s important to allow teachers to implement and explore creativity in students mind for a better world.
Also, our all private and government teachers need career and income security from the government. It’s because they can’t teach effectively students if they are worried about money, poor financial conditions. Then it’s tough for them to teach creatively and practically to students.
That’s why I think it’s really important for any nations that they provide enough facilities and focused and consistent educational development works for teachers.
Today, we need to respect teachers and need to appreciate their good efforts. Teachers need security and safety from the government. Teachers want maximum infrastructure to educate students. We need to follow the lessons and spread more about good teachers verbally.
It’s tough to explain a life of teacher but we can help them by appreciating and giving them the gift of by becoming good human being.
What do you think?
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