Category: students

When you’ve waited just a little too long to take that bathroom break …When your lesson plan turns…

When you’ve waited just a little too long to take that bathroom break …

When your lesson plan turns out perfectly …

“Thanks, brain.”

When they announce the first snow day …

When you have that breakthrough moment with a student 

When the district adds one more PD to your schedule …

When the kid in the back row wakes up and realizes the bell has already rung …

When they tell you you’re the best teacher they’ve ever had …

“Aw, shucks.”

When cold and flu season begins …

When they tell you they forgot their homework …

“I weep for humanity.”

When that one teacher keeps raising her hand at the PD …

“Are you listening to yourself?”

When they ask if they earned extra recess (after being totally off the hook all day) …

“No.”

When you describe your parent-teacher conference schedule to a non-teacher …

“OMG, right?”

Source: Buzzfeed

Regular

When you’ve waited just a little too long to take that bathroom break …

When your lesson plan turns out perfectly …

“Thanks, brain.”

When they announce the first snow day …

When you have that breakthrough moment with a student 

When the district adds one more PD to your schedule …

When the kid in the back row wakes up and realizes the bell has already rung …

When they tell you you’re the best teacher they’ve ever had …

“Aw, shucks.”

When cold and flu season begins …

When they tell you they forgot their homework …

“I weep for humanity.”

When that one teacher keeps raising her hand at the PD …

“Are you listening to yourself?”

When they ask if they earned extra recess (after being totally off the hook all day) …

“No.”

When you describe your parent-teacher conference schedule to a non-teacher …

“OMG, right?”

Source: Buzzfeed

10 Things Experienced Teachers Want New Teachers to Know

Oh hey! We haven’t posted in a while but came across this great post for new teachers on Mashable. Check it out below! 


The first day of school is nerve-wracking for students — but it’s even scarier for new teachers.

When you’re facing a whole room full of bright-eyed students whose future is in your hands, it’s an empowering and totally terrifying feeling. Like any practice, it takes time and experience to learn your way around the classroom. But that doesn’t mean you can’t benefit from a few words of wisdom from experienced colleagues.

A few seasoned teachers at Math for America provided tips that first-time educators should know. But even seasoned teachers could benefit from these pieces of advice.

1. Be yourself.

Be a well organized, fiercely boundaried, teacher-shaped version of you, but be yourself. They can smell a faker a mile away.

2. Keep a teacher journal and write down all the great things that happen in your classroom.

Because some days you are going to feel like the worst teacher on the planet. Some days that kid is going to get to you and you’re going to fly off the handle. Some days you are going to want to walk out the door and not come back into your classroom. Ever.

You are going to need to look at those moments that made you laugh, made you smile, made you so proud of them you felt like your heart was going to burst, and made you remember why you signed up to do this amazing, exhausting, fantastic job in the first place.

3. Don’t yell.

Seriously, don’t. Because that one time the whole year, where you actually need to yell to communicate emphasis, it needs to count.

4. Work it out.

Lesson planning will drain your mental energy. Students will drain your emotional energy. You’ll have to channel your physical energy somewhere. Take up running on the weekends or cycling in the afternoons. Yoga also works well, but taking up boxing may be more efficient.

5. Say their names.

One strategy to learn all of your students’ names is to use their names often in the first few days of class. The more you use their names, the easier it will be to memorize them all. After class, you can use a seating chart and rehearse which students sit at which tables/desks so that you will associate a desk with a name and a face. Teaching becomes easier when students feel comfortable in your classroom. (Obviously don’t make them too comfortable.)

6. Sleep.

Establish good sleep habits. There will always be something left undone at the end of a day. Make a list for the next day and let it go for the night. If you don’t sleep well, you will have the same amount of work the next day but it will be a lot more overwhelming.

7. Assemble a think tank.

You will need people to bounce ideas off of and to engage in meaningful discussion about pedagogy and classroom management with like-minded people in your situation. It has a few effects: a. It lets you know you are not alone, b. others can see what you cannot, c. collaboration is stimulating and d. someone else might pay for beer.

8. Stick to routines.

Nervous about the first day? That’s normal. First impressions are important, but what’s more valuable is how you reinforce your routines during the first few weeks (and months) of school. Choose routines that are short and easy to do. You’ll forget how to execute long routines when you are managing a room full of children.

9. Remember how hard it is to learn something new.

Learning isn’t instant. Teach students that deep, meaningful learning takes time and effort. Tell them how long it took you to learn something like swimming, skiing, cooking, spear fishing, etc. Students often think that if they don’t learn something right away that they’re not “smart” enough.

10. Forget about yesterday.

Some students may test your nerves today. Don’t hold grudges; tomorrow those same students may be amazing in class. Though they made you angry yesterday, show them your smiles today. Smiling makes us all happier anywhere – it’s scientifically proven.

For the link to the full posting check out Mashable

10 Things Experienced Teachers Want New Teache…

Oh hey! We haven’t posted in a while but came across this great post for new teachers on Mashable. Check it out below! 


The first day of school is nerve-wracking for students — but it’s even scarier for new teachers.

When you’re facing a whole room full of bright-eyed students whose future is in your hands, it’s an empowering and totally terrifying feeling. Like any practice, it takes time and experience to learn your way around the classroom. But that doesn’t mean you can’t benefit from a few words of wisdom from experienced colleagues.

A few seasoned teachers at Math for America provided tips that first-time educators should know. But even seasoned teachers could benefit from these pieces of advice.

1. Be yourself.

Be a well organized, fiercely boundaried, teacher-shaped version of you, but be yourself. They can smell a faker a mile away.

2. Keep a teacher journal and write down all the great things that happen in your classroom.

Because some days you are going to feel like the worst teacher on the planet. Some days that kid is going to get to you and you’re going to fly off the handle. Some days you are going to want to walk out the door and not come back into your classroom. Ever.

You are going to need to look at those moments that made you laugh, made you smile, made you so proud of them you felt like your heart was going to burst, and made you remember why you signed up to do this amazing, exhausting, fantastic job in the first place.

3. Don’t yell.

Seriously, don’t. Because that one time the whole year, where you actually need to yell to communicate emphasis, it needs to count.

4. Work it out.

Lesson planning will drain your mental energy. Students will drain your emotional energy. You’ll have to channel your physical energy somewhere. Take up running on the weekends or cycling in the afternoons. Yoga also works well, but taking up boxing may be more efficient.

5. Say their names.

One strategy to learn all of your students’ names is to use their names often in the first few days of class. The more you use their names, the easier it will be to memorize them all. After class, you can use a seating chart and rehearse which students sit at which tables/desks so that you will associate a desk with a name and a face. Teaching becomes easier when students feel comfortable in your classroom. (Obviously don’t make them too comfortable.)

6. Sleep.

Establish good sleep habits. There will always be something left undone at the end of a day. Make a list for the next day and let it go for the night. If you don’t sleep well, you will have the same amount of work the next day but it will be a lot more overwhelming.

7. Assemble a think tank.

You will need people to bounce ideas off of and to engage in meaningful discussion about pedagogy and classroom management with like-minded people in your situation. It has a few effects: a. It lets you know you are not alone, b. others can see what you cannot, c. collaboration is stimulating and d. someone else might pay for beer.

8. Stick to routines.

Nervous about the first day? That’s normal. First impressions are important, but what’s more valuable is how you reinforce your routines during the first few weeks (and months) of school. Choose routines that are short and easy to do. You’ll forget how to execute long routines when you are managing a room full of children.

9. Remember how hard it is to learn something new.

Learning isn’t instant. Teach students that deep, meaningful learning takes time and effort. Tell them how long it took you to learn something like swimming, skiing, cooking, spear fishing, etc. Students often think that if they don’t learn something right away that they’re not “smart” enough.

10. Forget about yesterday.

Some students may test your nerves today. Don’t hold grudges; tomorrow those same students may be amazing in class. Though they made you angry yesterday, show them your smiles today. Smiling makes us all happier anywhere – it’s scientifically proven.

For the link to the full posting check out Mashable

Just Breathe: When Teachers Practice Mindfulness

After yesterdays post, we have an email with an interesting article from Edutopia. I am a firm believer in mindfulness practices. Read below and let us know what you think! 


Once in a while, a resource comes along that is so invaluable to our work as educators that I have to share it with you. Meena Srinivasan’s new book, Teach, Breathe, Learn: Mindfulness In and Out of the Classroom, is such a resource. It speaks to a yearning I hear across our country: a desire to teach and work in a way that is anchored in joy, emerging from compassion, and that is more humane and slower than the way we work now.

What Meena honestly and graciously offers in this easy-to-read book is a roadmap for this desire. She introduces a variety of mindfulness practices and then offers a wealth of resources for how to integrate these into our lives and classrooms. Anyone interested in implementing mindfulness in schools must read this book.

While the lesson plans could be very useful and the quotes from students bring their perspective into this discussion, it’s Meena’s story as an educator, embedded in this text, that I found most inspiring and that makes this book unique. From one of the first anecdotes she shares about how she realized that her mood was affecting her students, I was hooked. I could relate. I wanted to know what had happened to her, how she shifted that very common experience of being a stretched-too-thin, overwhelmed teacher into being something different. I wanted to know her story and the tools she had used. You’ll have to read the book to find out what they were.

In the meantime, I want to give you a taste of who Meena is and what her book is about through this interview I did with her. I’m hoping that it’ll further entice you into reading Teach, Breathe, Learn.

Elena Aguilar: Who did you write this book for? Who do you hope will read it?

Meena Srinivasan: This book is an offering of my heart and my hope is that it will provide tools, resources, and inspiration for anyone interested in bringing mindfulness into their life and the lives of young people. The book is filled with anecdotes and practices that illustrate both the power and the accessibility of the transformational practice of mindfulness. While the book is written from my point of view as an educator, its contents will be useful for anyone especially teachers, caregivers, and those working in educational settings.

How do you think mindfulness could be helpful to teachers and administrators?

The more we practice coming back to the present with kind awareness, the easier it actually is to be present – a vital quality for educators. Except for perhaps surgeons, teachers make more decisions during the course of the work day, and the demands of the classroom require us to be able to have simultaneously both expansive and focused attention.

Mindfulness enables us to connect deeply with ourselves so in turn we can authentically connect with others. Being a principal or a school leader can be a very lonely job and a mindfulness practice can be incredibly helpful with developing the strong relationships needed to successfully lead a school.

The concept of interdependence is foundational to how mindfulness is introduced in my book. Over the years I’ve found it very helpful to reflect on interdependence when working with teachers and colleagues to help us see that our school can only work with all of its multiple parts working smoothly. If one part of the system functions poorly, the whole body of the school is affected. Sometimes there can be challenges between different entities within schools, but if we can remember that without the administration, parents, staff, and students, our schools would not be able to function. We can approach our interactions with others in our community with more gratitude and understanding.

Tell me a story about the role mindfulness has played in your personal or professional life.

Mindfulness enables us to be more responsive and less reactive. My very first classroom moment was very powerful where I said, “Wow, this mindfulness stuff really works!” I was teaching an academic support class at an international middle school in New Delhi, India. My class had students from all over the world. They all had varying special needs and I was charged with supporting them all.

When I shared with my students that we were hiring an instructional assistant to help provide more support for our class, one of my beautiful American boys yelled, “I hope it’s not an Indian!” In that moment my heart sank. I was one of the few teachers of color at the international school and the only expat of Indian origin. I felt extremely hurt by his comment, and feelings of anger and sadness bubbled inside of me.

The pre-mindfulness me would have snapped at him that his comment was unacceptable, but now, because of my mindfulness practice, I engaged in emotional self-regulation. Recognizing my feelings as they arose within me, I paused and took a breath, and instead of shutting my student down I politely asked him why he didn’t want an Indian instructional assistant.

He explained that he found it very difficult to understand Indian accents and this made it hard for him to learn. As he spoke, I realized he had no intention of hurting my feelings as someone with an Indian heritage; instead I saw a young boy who had difficulty learning, a boy who hadn’t chosen to be in India, a boy who was brought there because of his father’s job – a boy who felt frustrated and needed my love and acknowledgment of his feelings. From that moment forward, I made it my policy to always engage my students in dialogue in order to really understand them. I realized that only when I understood them could I truly teach them.

Sometimes mindfulness in schools is discussed as a method to help kids focus so that they can be stronger students, as a way to have stronger academic skills. I’ve heard of teachers using what they call “mindfulness” to help kids prepare for taking tests. What do you think of this approach? Does it resonate with what you suggest in your book?

While it is true that mindfulness can create conditions for learning by helping students focus and self-regulate, this was definitely not my approach in sharing mindfulness with young people. Mindfulness is empowering because it helps us see that in every moment we have a choice; we can choose to be more skillful, and there are concrete strategies that can help us bring more peace, love, and joy into our lives.

If a reader was to take one action based on reading your book, what would you hope that would be?

The most valuable thing we can offer others is our own happiness. The action I hope readers will take after reading my book is to develop a personal mindfulness practice so they can cultivate and grow their own happiness. It’s not always what you teach but how you teach it, and the love and joy behind your teaching that is perhaps the strongest impression you will leave with your students.

Before we can share mindfulness with our students we need an experiential understanding of mindfulness from our own practice. Once we begin to develop our own practice, we will see how it impacts our classroom and our relationships with others. Mindfulness offers a way to tap into the resilience that is already inside us. We don’t need more time in our day to be mindful.Teach, Breathe, Learn is a practical guide for how to bring more awareness, love, and resilience into our daily lives.

If someone is curious about mindfulness and wishes to learn more, aside from reading your book, what do you recommend? Where could they start?

I would highly recommend attending a mindfulness retreat. There are a number of offerings all over the world. I would suggest reaching out to theMindfulness in Education Network list serve and detail what you are looking for in terms of length and geography and you will be surprised by how many options there are.

Credit: Edutopia 

Just Breathe: When Teachers Practice Mindfulne…

After yesterdays post, we have an email with an interesting article from Edutopia. I am a firm believer in mindfulness practices. Read below and let us know what you think! 


Once in a while, a resource comes along that is so invaluable to our work as educators that I have to share it with you. Meena Srinivasan’s new book, Teach, Breathe, Learn: Mindfulness In and Out of the Classroom, is such a resource. It speaks to a yearning I hear across our country: a desire to teach and work in a way that is anchored in joy, emerging from compassion, and that is more humane and slower than the way we work now.

What Meena honestly and graciously offers in this easy-to-read book is a roadmap for this desire. She introduces a variety of mindfulness practices and then offers a wealth of resources for how to integrate these into our lives and classrooms. Anyone interested in implementing mindfulness in schools must read this book.

While the lesson plans could be very useful and the quotes from students bring their perspective into this discussion, it’s Meena’s story as an educator, embedded in this text, that I found most inspiring and that makes this book unique. From one of the first anecdotes she shares about how she realized that her mood was affecting her students, I was hooked. I could relate. I wanted to know what had happened to her, how she shifted that very common experience of being a stretched-too-thin, overwhelmed teacher into being something different. I wanted to know her story and the tools she had used. You’ll have to read the book to find out what they were.

In the meantime, I want to give you a taste of who Meena is and what her book is about through this interview I did with her. I’m hoping that it’ll further entice you into reading Teach, Breathe, Learn.

Elena Aguilar: Who did you write this book for? Who do you hope will read it?

Meena Srinivasan: This book is an offering of my heart and my hope is that it will provide tools, resources, and inspiration for anyone interested in bringing mindfulness into their life and the lives of young people. The book is filled with anecdotes and practices that illustrate both the power and the accessibility of the transformational practice of mindfulness. While the book is written from my point of view as an educator, its contents will be useful for anyone especially teachers, caregivers, and those working in educational settings.

How do you think mindfulness could be helpful to teachers and administrators?

The more we practice coming back to the present with kind awareness, the easier it actually is to be present – a vital quality for educators. Except for perhaps surgeons, teachers make more decisions during the course of the work day, and the demands of the classroom require us to be able to have simultaneously both expansive and focused attention.

Mindfulness enables us to connect deeply with ourselves so in turn we can authentically connect with others. Being a principal or a school leader can be a very lonely job and a mindfulness practice can be incredibly helpful with developing the strong relationships needed to successfully lead a school.

The concept of interdependence is foundational to how mindfulness is introduced in my book. Over the years I’ve found it very helpful to reflect on interdependence when working with teachers and colleagues to help us see that our school can only work with all of its multiple parts working smoothly. If one part of the system functions poorly, the whole body of the school is affected. Sometimes there can be challenges between different entities within schools, but if we can remember that without the administration, parents, staff, and students, our schools would not be able to function. We can approach our interactions with others in our community with more gratitude and understanding.

Tell me a story about the role mindfulness has played in your personal or professional life.

Mindfulness enables us to be more responsive and less reactive. My very first classroom moment was very powerful where I said, “Wow, this mindfulness stuff really works!” I was teaching an academic support class at an international middle school in New Delhi, India. My class had students from all over the world. They all had varying special needs and I was charged with supporting them all.

When I shared with my students that we were hiring an instructional assistant to help provide more support for our class, one of my beautiful American boys yelled, “I hope it’s not an Indian!” In that moment my heart sank. I was one of the few teachers of color at the international school and the only expat of Indian origin. I felt extremely hurt by his comment, and feelings of anger and sadness bubbled inside of me.

The pre-mindfulness me would have snapped at him that his comment was unacceptable, but now, because of my mindfulness practice, I engaged in emotional self-regulation. Recognizing my feelings as they arose within me, I paused and took a breath, and instead of shutting my student down I politely asked him why he didn’t want an Indian instructional assistant.

He explained that he found it very difficult to understand Indian accents and this made it hard for him to learn. As he spoke, I realized he had no intention of hurting my feelings as someone with an Indian heritage; instead I saw a young boy who had difficulty learning, a boy who hadn’t chosen to be in India, a boy who was brought there because of his father’s job – a boy who felt frustrated and needed my love and acknowledgment of his feelings. From that moment forward, I made it my policy to always engage my students in dialogue in order to really understand them. I realized that only when I understood them could I truly teach them.

Sometimes mindfulness in schools is discussed as a method to help kids focus so that they can be stronger students, as a way to have stronger academic skills. I’ve heard of teachers using what they call “mindfulness” to help kids prepare for taking tests. What do you think of this approach? Does it resonate with what you suggest in your book?

While it is true that mindfulness can create conditions for learning by helping students focus and self-regulate, this was definitely not my approach in sharing mindfulness with young people. Mindfulness is empowering because it helps us see that in every moment we have a choice; we can choose to be more skillful, and there are concrete strategies that can help us bring more peace, love, and joy into our lives.

If a reader was to take one action based on reading your book, what would you hope that would be?

The most valuable thing we can offer others is our own happiness. The action I hope readers will take after reading my book is to develop a personal mindfulness practice so they can cultivate and grow their own happiness. It’s not always what you teach but how you teach it, and the love and joy behind your teaching that is perhaps the strongest impression you will leave with your students.

Before we can share mindfulness with our students we need an experiential understanding of mindfulness from our own practice. Once we begin to develop our own practice, we will see how it impacts our classroom and our relationships with others. Mindfulness offers a way to tap into the resilience that is already inside us. We don’t need more time in our day to be mindful.Teach, Breathe, Learn is a practical guide for how to bring more awareness, love, and resilience into our daily lives.

If someone is curious about mindfulness and wishes to learn more, aside from reading your book, what do you recommend? Where could they start?

I would highly recommend attending a mindfulness retreat. There are a number of offerings all over the world. I would suggest reaching out to theMindfulness in Education Network list serve and detail what you are looking for in terms of length and geography and you will be surprised by how many options there are.

Credit: Edutopia 

Teacher stress is killing my profession

The reality of every teacher trying to make even a modest go at this profession is a life of almost constant stress, overwork and, at times, emotional exhaustion.

Anyone who enters the teaching profession thinking otherwise is in for a rude awakening.

So why am I griping? I chose this profession and I enjoy what I do.

Well, it is because a storm of new and increasingly unrealistic demands, coupled with a noticeable decline in support from many principals and parents, is contributing to a growing incidence of illness among teachers, including mental illness due to work-related stress.

I should note that teaching has not broken me. But it has broken the sanity and soul of some very motivated teachers I know.

Burn-out profession? A Saskatchewan study says almost 60 per cent of teachers face job stress. (Associated Press file photo)

“I think that the whole idea of teaching has changed in the last 15 to 20 years,” says Emily Noble, past-president of the Canadian Teachers’ Federation.

“People are dealing with more high-need students, with more multicultural issues and with no-fail policies.

"Teachers want to make a difference, but the supports are just not there.”

Deferred authority

People outside of the profession are invariably shocked when I describe exactly what today’s teachers have to put up with.

There is a general understanding that things “are not the same as they once were.”

But many non-teachers still do not understand just how much the moral tone and foundational standards of public education have been compromised in recent years in the name of individual freedom, diversity and accommodation.

The idea of one lesson, one class has long disappeared.

What this has also meant for teachers is the progressive deterioration of authority over students and their issues, while the onus of responsibility and accountability, on us, remains very much the same.

These days, I can’t expect the student who disrupts class, bullies other students (or teachers) and vandalizes property to be disciplined effectively by school administrators.

I cannot set enforceable deadlines, deduct marks for poor spelling and grammar, or set the same tests for a growing cohort of “identified students” as this might harm their morale or ruin their willingness to consider college or university.

Health warning

How much of a toll are these new demands and loss of control placing on teachers?

A recent study of urban teachers in Saskatchewan by professors Ron Martin and Rod Dolmage of the University of Regina found that 61 per cent had reported becoming ill due to work-related stress.

As well, almost 40 per cent of those surveyed had to take time off work because of stress.

Even more astonishing, though, was that 51 per cent of the teachers in this sample stated that, if they found a viable career alternative, they would leave teaching!

It was no surprise then when the Saskatchewan Teachers’ Federation stated in a recent health bulletin that “stress, anxiety, depression and other psychological conditions are the leading causes of workplace absences.”

In fact, the largest cost to the Saskatchewan teachers’ drug benefit plan were medications for depression and blood pressure (11 per cent of the total each).

The best are falling

Add to this the largely undocumented group of what I call the walking wounded, those teachers whose energy levels have been sapped so much by all the new administrative demands that they have little left over to give directly to their students.

I have occasionally heard it said that these increasing demands and stresses are a positive development because they will weed out those whose commitment to the profession may be problematic.

But in my experience, it has been the most highly motivated and committed teachers who undergo the most stress and who break down simply because they truly care for their students and, against the odds, try to deliver.

Mediocre teachers, it seems, have less of a problem in detaching their personal well-being from that of their students. And that is not just my view.

“Burnout is more common in the young, highly motivated, energetic, hard-working teacher,” says Prof. Martin. “The people who burn out are the people who pour everything into it without balance.”

The real world

Teachers, it should be said, are partly to blame for this problem.

The profession inherently breeds a culture of self-sacrifice and endurance, which often dissuades many from seeking help. The notion that teachers will “always pull through” seems to be assumed in the demands and directives of school administrators.

When I raise this issue with non-teachers, I often hear the mantra that things are tough all over and teachers should “just suck it up like the rest of us.”

Fine. I’m not unaware of what is going on in the so-called real world.

But the difference between what I do and the majority of other professions is that I deal directly with the growth, health, and transformation of human lives.

As a result there is a much more intimate link between my health and mental attitude and the health of my so-called clients than there is in many other professions.

Other grumpy, overworked Canadians may feel a modicum of satisfaction knowing that teachers, too, are increasingly succumbing to stress.

But will they still feel that way when their children start bringing these school problems home with them, because there is no teacher around for extra help with assignments or to coach the school team?

Yes, we have the summers “off.” And some are smart enough to use the time to unwind from all those long evenings marking papers, dealing with school issues and planning classes.

But many of us either work, teach summer school or take additional courses during the summer, all in the name of contributing more to our jobs and to those we are committed to. Some days you have to wonder why.

Teacher stress is killing my profession

The reality of every teacher trying to make even a modest go at this profession is a life of almost constant stress, overwork and, at times, emotional exhaustion.

Anyone who enters the teaching profession thinking otherwise is in for a rude awakening.

So why am I griping? I chose this profession and I enjoy what I do.

Well, it is because a storm of new and increasingly unrealistic demands, coupled with a noticeable decline in support from many principals and parents, is contributing to a growing incidence of illness among teachers, including mental illness due to work-related stress.

I should note that teaching has not broken me. But it has broken the sanity and soul of some very motivated teachers I know.

Burn-out profession? A Saskatchewan study says almost 60 per cent of teachers face job stress. (Associated Press file photo)

“I think that the whole idea of teaching has changed in the last 15 to 20 years,” says Emily Noble, past-president of the Canadian Teachers’ Federation.

“People are dealing with more high-need students, with more multicultural issues and with no-fail policies.

"Teachers want to make a difference, but the supports are just not there.”

Deferred authority

People outside of the profession are invariably shocked when I describe exactly what today’s teachers have to put up with.

There is a general understanding that things “are not the same as they once were.”

But many non-teachers still do not understand just how much the moral tone and foundational standards of public education have been compromised in recent years in the name of individual freedom, diversity and accommodation.

The idea of one lesson, one class has long disappeared.

What this has also meant for teachers is the progressive deterioration of authority over students and their issues, while the onus of responsibility and accountability, on us, remains very much the same.

These days, I can’t expect the student who disrupts class, bullies other students (or teachers) and vandalizes property to be disciplined effectively by school administrators.

I cannot set enforceable deadlines, deduct marks for poor spelling and grammar, or set the same tests for a growing cohort of “identified students” as this might harm their morale or ruin their willingness to consider college or university.

Health warning

How much of a toll are these new demands and loss of control placing on teachers?

A recent study of urban teachers in Saskatchewan by professors Ron Martin and Rod Dolmage of the University of Regina found that 61 per cent had reported becoming ill due to work-related stress.

As well, almost 40 per cent of those surveyed had to take time off work because of stress.

Even more astonishing, though, was that 51 per cent of the teachers in this sample stated that, if they found a viable career alternative, they would leave teaching!

It was no surprise then when the Saskatchewan Teachers’ Federation stated in a recent health bulletin that “stress, anxiety, depression and other psychological conditions are the leading causes of workplace absences.”

In fact, the largest cost to the Saskatchewan teachers’ drug benefit plan were medications for depression and blood pressure (11 per cent of the total each).

The best are falling

Add to this the largely undocumented group of what I call the walking wounded, those teachers whose energy levels have been sapped so much by all the new administrative demands that they have little left over to give directly to their students.

I have occasionally heard it said that these increasing demands and stresses are a positive development because they will weed out those whose commitment to the profession may be problematic.

But in my experience, it has been the most highly motivated and committed teachers who undergo the most stress and who break down simply because they truly care for their students and, against the odds, try to deliver.

Mediocre teachers, it seems, have less of a problem in detaching their personal well-being from that of their students. And that is not just my view.

“Burnout is more common in the young, highly motivated, energetic, hard-working teacher,” says Prof. Martin. “The people who burn out are the people who pour everything into it without balance.”

The real world

Teachers, it should be said, are partly to blame for this problem.

The profession inherently breeds a culture of self-sacrifice and endurance, which often dissuades many from seeking help. The notion that teachers will “always pull through” seems to be assumed in the demands and directives of school administrators.

When I raise this issue with non-teachers, I often hear the mantra that things are tough all over and teachers should “just suck it up like the rest of us.”

Fine. I’m not unaware of what is going on in the so-called real world.

But the difference between what I do and the majority of other professions is that I deal directly with the growth, health, and transformation of human lives.

As a result there is a much more intimate link between my health and mental attitude and the health of my so-called clients than there is in many other professions.

Other grumpy, overworked Canadians may feel a modicum of satisfaction knowing that teachers, too, are increasingly succumbing to stress.

But will they still feel that way when their children start bringing these school problems home with them, because there is no teacher around for extra help with assignments or to coach the school team?

Yes, we have the summers “off.” And some are smart enough to use the time to unwind from all those long evenings marking papers, dealing with school issues and planning classes.

But many of us either work, teach summer school or take additional courses during the summer, all in the name of contributing more to our jobs and to those we are committed to. Some days you have to wonder why.

If Teachers Were Football Players

If Teachers Were Football Players

Start this week off with a laugh! Thanks to BuzzFeedVideos! 

If Teachers Were Football Players Start this week off with a…

If Teachers Were Football Players

Start this week off with a laugh! Thanks to BuzzFeedVideos!