Some individuals appear to breeze through the school day without a care in the world. Meanwhile, you are up to your eyes in marking, planning, and then there are those assessments that need to be handed in…yesterday! The school environment can be a stressful place, and the stress resonates in different ways to different people in different ways. Sometimes, stress is delegated down the command chain, permeating through the veins of the school in a negative way.
Following the popular UKEdChat poll, this important session asked questions about how we can all deal with our own stresses, how we can cope in a stressful situation, and how we (as teachers) can work effectively to reduce the negative impacts of stress to our pupils, colleagues and family – remember them?
Specifically, the session asked:
- What are the most stressful situations that occur regularly in the school environments?
- What strategies do you, or your school, have in place to support people who are stressed?
- What are the negative impacts/consequences that you have seen when people are stressed?
- Stress in a natural response and emotion. Beyond coffee, what activity helps reduce your stress level?
- School leaders become incredibly stressed as well – How do you deal when people around you are all stressed?
- Let’s finish on a positive. What collective activities can help alleviate stress, and what activities can be done in school to help everyone?
The discussion began by participants swapping causes for stress in the schools. There was lots of overlap, which issues with communication (mainly between staff) being the most cited issue. Admin and accountability procedures, like report writing, lesson observations and the stress caused by book scrutinies also featured in many tweets. Perhaps surprisingly, planning and marking was mentioned less, but the varied amount of freedom or requirements allowed to plan and mark in one’s own way may account for this.
The next question addressed coping with stress and what measures were in place at schools to help. It seems that many schools have realised that something must be done and are actively helping staff who have been identified as stressed. Counsellors are becoming ever more prevalent in UK schools and are being visited by staff and not just students. But it is clear that many people can’t or don’t access school based de-stress measures and take matters into their own hands.
The discussion turned to the consequences of stress. Almost universally UKEdChatters talked about colleagues they knew who had left the profession. People also discussed about health issues and regular illness for those who stay in teaching. Naturally, this all impacts on the educational opportunities of our students.
Turning once again to things that de-stress, the discussion moved on to leisure pursuits which help with stress. Exercise and cake (anti-exercise!) featured in many tweets. Dance, art and nights out were also mentioned many times.