Teachers in Transition

Teachers in Transition - Episode 124 - Some Sources of Work Stress

August 12, 2021 Kitty Boitnott
Teachers in Transition
Teachers in Transition - Episode 124 - Some Sources of Work Stress
Transcript
Speaker 1:

Welcome back to episode 124 of teachers in transition. My name is kitty Boitnott. I am the founder of teachers in transition, the owner of Boitnott coaching, LLC, and a teacher who specializes in helping other teachers figure out what it is that they want to do in their next career. I consider myself a heart-centered career transition and job search coach who specializes in working with burnout teachers, but I'm also a certified stress management coach. And if you've listened to this podcast or watch this YouTube channel before you know that I alternate topics each week, one week talking about stress and stress management and stress relief, as it relates to teachers. And on other weeks, I talk about career transitions and strategies. This week is a stress week. So I'm going to be talking about an article that I found that relates, I think very much so with teachers right now, teachers who are feeling stressed about going back to school this fall, as we get ready to go back, there's a lot of uncertainty, depending on where you live in the country, you may be more stressed than other teachers in other parts of the country. This particular article is from the American psychological association based on its annual stress in America survey, which was in this particular article , uh , taken all the way back in 2014. I don't think it's any surprise to know that stress has continued to be an increasingly worrisome problem since 2014 and is , uh , an acute problem, not just for teachers, but for parents, for administrators, for doctors, for nurses, for people who were in the public health field, for those who are trying to figure out how to navigate this country through the problems of people, not wanting to trust the science and not wanting to get the [inaudible] along with the political pressures that are going along with the time that we live in. But today we're going to talk about stress as it relates to teachers in particular from this article about stress in the workplace, and they list certain factors that tend to go hand in hand with work-related stress. Uh, some of the workplace stressors are see if any of these resonate with you, low salaries, excessive workloads, few opportunities for growth or advancement work that isn't engaging challenging. That one may not be quite so true for some of you, but it might be true for others. Lack of social support, not having enough control over job-related decisions. I think every teacher in the country can relate to that one and conflicting demands or unclear performance expectations, ding, ding, ding, ding. I think that if you're a teacher, anywhere in this country, probably anywhere in the world, because teachers in the United States are not the only ones who are stressed out. I follow a Facebook group where there are teachers who are posting daily about their frustrations, their stress, their anxiety, their desire to leave the classroom. But they're scared because they don't know where they could go to if they left. And that's probably where a lot of you who are listening to this are in your particular situation. So what can you do to manage all of this stress? Well, if you're, if , if low salaries are the cause of your stress, then the solution is to look for a job. That's going to pay you more now, depending on where you are in the country, where you are on the salary scale, that may be more challenging for some than others. Honestly. I mean, I just, I tell it, like I see it. If you're a teacher at the top of the salary scale and some parts of the country, you may be making 90 or a hundred thousand dollars a year and transitioning into something that's going to pay you commensurate to that. It's going to take you longer to find the right fit, perhaps more creativity to make the case that with your skills, your aptitudes, your talents, your experience, your education, you deserve to make a lateral move into a company in spite of any specific company based experience. Is it impossible? No, I don't think it's impossible, but does it take diligence and work and knowing what you're doing? Yes. I think that's probably the case for younger teachers with three to five years of experience making that transition is not quite as challenging because they're coming in at a lower salary and are probably going to be able to find something commensurate with the salary that they've been making. You know, somebody who's making 38, 40, 40 $2,000 a year. You're not going to have as much trouble transitioning into , uh, a startup , uh, job , uh , uh, a job that is at the beginning of your work history in another industry, as opposed to someone who's at the top excessive workloads, every teacher in the country can certainly relate to that. And what I would say to you is to the extent that you can, you need to start unloading some of your work. A lot of teachers now, let's just be honest. A lot of teachers do more than they are expected to do. They are people pleasers, they're helpers. They want to , they want to be praised. They want to be appreciated and who doesn't want to be appreciated. But if you take on so much extra work, that it is sacrificing your health, you don't have time for your family. You're skimping on time with friends. You're not ever taking a vacation because you're constantly engaged in work. There's a problem. The excessive workload is sometimes within your, your realm of control. So think clearly about what has to be done and what is optional to be done. And if you feel stressed because you are currently overworked, start dumping the optional stuff, and you can bring it back later, once you have things under more control, but if you're stressed out and feeling anxious all the time, it works . And part of the reason for it is that you keep volunteering to do extra work, get rid of it, dump it. I had a client this year who's told me she's let go of all the quote unquote leadership opportunities that she had signed up for in the past things that took extra time, things that took extra planning, she was paid for those opportunities, but she wasn't being paid enough for the time that she was putting into them. And she decided this year, she is going to spend all of her free time on her job search for her next career. And so she has an volunteered herself from all those extra opportunities. She's done them all. She's got that experience. So she's not doing that this year. She's freeing up time so she can spend quality time on her job, search few opportunities for growth or advancement. What teacher can't relate to that you don't want to be a principal there's hardly any place for you to go. Department chair just adds on more work. The opportunities in the central office are skimpy very , very often based on political decisions based on who you know, and you know, it's, it's not really about merit and the school division. There's not, not a heavy meritocracy going on. It's a lot about who you know, and who you get along well with lack of social support, you know, turn on the TV, open up a newspaper. You can find lots of fingers being pointed at teachers for all kinds of reasons. So lack of social support is definitely something that teachers can relate to not having enough control over job-related decisions . There was hardly any job related decision that you actually have control over other than what goes inside, goes on inside the four walls of your classroom. And even then your day is driven by the pacing guide or the , the wherever it is that your principal expects you to be on any given day in your teaching, in your curriculum. And almost all of the curriculum decisions are made without your input. I mean, wouldn't it be nice if teachers were asked more often, what do you think should be taught? How should we be teaching this? And they're not being asked that conflicting demands or unclear performance expectations. I have hundreds of stories that I could share of teachers who tell me, they've taught fine. They've not ever had any problem. They've had stellar reviews, stellar evaluations, and suddenly a new principal comes in and they can't do anything. Right? If that sounds like something you're familiar with, don't feel like you're alone because it happens all the time. Teach good teaching is often in the eye of the beholder. And if you have a new principal, who's bringing a new set of expectations or a different set of expectations from the ones that you've been meeting before, getting up to speed and trying to meet their demands can be stressful. The best way to go about it is to be honest and have a conversation with them and ask them flat out, what is it that you want me to do? But often those conversations are hard to initiate and not every principal's going to be open to having that conversation. They may tell you one thing and then turn around and expect something else. So it's hard to know, but the best way to address that particular issue is to initiate a conversation that is as honest as you can make it at the end of the day, you're the only individual who can control your stress. You are the one who gets to decide how you respond to every stressful event in your day, and you can react and be impulsive and be , uh, not, not very thoughtful about how you respond, or you can try to take a deep breath, try on trying mindfulness, pay attention to not just how you feel, but , uh , to the reactions of the other people that you're interacting with and try to respond and on the tour and responsible way so that you don't make the situation worse. You have to take care of you though. You have to take care of your health. You have to take care of your stress. You have to take care of your anxiety. And at the end of the day, if you need help, please, please ask for it. Don't wait until you've made yourself sick with stress. Too many people are sick because they've let their stress go unchecked and unmanaged. So please don't let that happen to you. And if you feel like it's already happening, get help, find someone to talk, to talk to your doctor about it. Perhaps you need short term medication. Perhaps you need to talk to a therapist, get the help that you need before it's too late. And that's it for this week. Take care, be safe. I'll see you next week. This is kitty Boynton out of teachers and transition as always, please send me questions, comments, review this podcast, teachers in transition so that other people can find it more easily. If you have a topic that you'd like me to talk about in an upcoming episode, I'd love to hear about it. So email [email protected] And again, I'll see you next week.