Helping our Teachers Cope with Increased Demands and Stress Levels
Events such as the COVID-19 pandemic and Hurricane Ian likely increased most of our region’s stress levels. Globally1, according to the World Health Organization, anxiety and depression have increased 25% since pre-pandemic levels.
Of all professions, educators at all levels (of whom there are more than 9,000 in Lee County, according to U.S. Census data) are uniquely positioned to be particularly susceptible to the frontline challenges these crises bring.
Prior to the pandemic, teachers were already struggling with burnout, poor performance, and historically high turnover rates, states2 this research study from Penn State University. In 2016, when the article was published, 46% of teachers reported high daily stress.
By 2020, in the depths of the pandemic, over half of the teachers reported considering leaving the profession, more than one quarter reported symptoms of depression, and more than 35% reported symptoms of general anxiety3, this report from the CDC foundation discovered.
Similarly, this Chronicle of Higher Education research summary highlights the increased stress and decreased enjoyment reported by professors. Please click here4, Covid&FacultyCareerPaths_Fidelity_ResearchBrief_v3 (1).pdf (chronicle.com), to learn more.
In this article, a survey of more than 1,100 professors at two- and four-year colleges found that a deteriorating work-life balance and additional concerns for safety and well-being – both for themselves and their students – contributed to stress.
Naturally, these increased demands and the resulting turnover rate of educators have a profound impact on the education system and students.
A5 University of Massachusetts Global article states: “When turnover contributes to teacher shortages, schools may also resort to increasing class sizes or cutting some of their offerings, which can have adverse effects on student learning.”
John W. Krupp, a veteran educator who has taught in nearby Collier County Public Schools, recently published a blog titled6 “Coping With Stress as a Teacher” for KDP, an organization that provides resources to teachers.
In it, Dr. Krupp advises new teachers to engage with a like-minded fellow educator or group. “Find those external supports and surround yourself with them… Doing so will help you overcome the stress of the profession and realize that we have the best job in the world. We can change the world. That can only happen if you stay in the classroom!”
The Go Guardian team prepared an important article in 2020 which provided guidance on “How to Handle stress as a Teacher7. The article provided details on ten tips on how to alleviate stress.
Assess your stress level
Schedule time to respond to your stress
Establish realistic goals
Focus on what you can control
Contact colleagues for advice
Participate in stress-relieving activities
Prioritize your health, family time and quality sleep
Do something different
Determine your response
If you have a child or grandchild of school or university age, you can also play a critical role in helping teachers combat the burnout and stress of the changing educational landscape.
Here are a few tips from Guidepost Montessori8:
- Help teach your child age-appropriate ways of being independent, such as small children putting on their own shoes or older children knowing how to request a missing material politely.
- Practice focus and concentration – particularly important in the age of increased “screen time.”
- Communicate with teachers so they can best help your child or grandchild succeed.
- COVID-19 pandemic triggers a 25% increase in the prevalence of anxiety and depression worldwide, The World Health Organization, 2 March 2022. https://www.who.int/news/item/02-03-2022-covid-19-pandemic-triggers-25-increase-in-prevalence-of-anxiety-and-depression-worldwide
- Teacher Stress and Health, Effects on Teachers, Students, and School, The Pennsylvania State University September 2016. https://www.prevention.psu.edu/uploads/files/rwjf430428-TeacherStress.pdf
- Mental Health Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Teachers and Parents of K-12 Students, The CDC Foundation May 2021, https://www.cdcfoundation.org/mental-health-triangulated-report?inline
- “On the Verge of Burnout” Covid-19’s impact on faculty well-being and career plans, based on
- Teacher turnover: What you need to know and how you can curb the trend, The University of Massachusetts Global. https://www.umassglobal.edu/news-and-events/blog/teacher-turnover
- Coping with stress as a Teacher By Phil Kitchel, posted 09-06-2022 and by John W. Krupp, https://www.kdp.org/blogs/phil-kitchel/2022/09/02/coping-with-stress-as-a-teacher
- How to Handle Stress As a Teacher, Go Guardian Team, Sept 28th, https://www.goguardian.com/blog/handling-teacher-stress
- How Parents Can Support Teachers During the School Year, Natalia Oliver Teacher, and Copywriter Guidepost Montessori. https://www.guidepostmontessori.com/blog/how-parents-can-support-teachers-during-school-year
- 5 Ways Parents Can Best Support Teachers This Year, Institute for Multi-Sensory Education Journal, Sept 2nd, https://journal.imse.com/5-ways-parents-can-support-teachers/
Additional articles of interest from the ECCL:
- August 2022, “Important Guidance for Students Entering Higher Education.” Please click here, Mental Health and New College Students | Estero Today, to read.
- May 2022, “Mental Distress in Children During COVID-19: Signs, Symptoms & What We Can Do to Help Our Kids & Ourselves.” Please click here, GECRqtr2-2022.pdf (esterotoday.com), to read.