Published 27th November 2018
If you’re a teacher, this shouldn’t come as a surprise to you. Quite frankly, teaching is a stressful job. There are no two ways about it. When you realise that the education of other people is in your hands and the fact that their futures depend on you, then you appreciate why teaching is so stressful. But there are other reasons too.
Teachers work long hours
Teaching is not only about being in the classroom. Before even stepping into the classroom teachers need to plan lessons, prepare materials and organize activities. After class teachers need to mark homework and tests and fill in paperwork. Then there are the commitments you are expected to do besides your lessons – parent-teacher meetings, staff meetings, attending teacher development workshops, leading extra-curricular activities. There really aren’t enough hours in the day for teachers.
Teaching is all about relationships
When we teach we deal with people. All day long we have to communicate with our colleagues, teach our students and deal with parents. Balancing these social relationships takes energy. Being at school doesn’t mean you can relax and be the same person you are on the weekend hanging out with your friends. No, you need to always put forward the best version of yourself to make sure you always come across as professional and courteous.
Teachers are always learning
Teaching is one of those professions where you learn on the job. Teachers learn something new every day, be it about language, their teaching practices or even about themselves. Teachers are always trying to improve themselves and their teaching. This means reviewing and reflecting on lessons, reading, and attending continuous professional development workshops. All of this takes time and means a heavier mental load.
What you can do about it
The first thing is to identify when you are feeling abnormally stressed. Know that you are working in a stressful environment and that you are likely to feel stressed at some point – if not regularly. Look out for signs that you are not handling your job as well as you should. This could be if you are feeling rundown, irritable, uncharacteristically tired or overwhelmed.
Try to take some time out for yourself and make sure you have a good work-life balance. Even though you may feel like you cannot afford to take time off, you actually cannot afford not to.
Teaching English as a Foreign Language is a balancing act. We have to make sure we are teaching the language effectively, while also maintaining discipline and considering classroom management. Above all, though, our lessons need to be engaging and interesting. Plus EFL teachers are usually living in a foreign environment which can be difficult in itself. All of these factors mean that teaching English as a Foreign Language is a stressful job. Make sure you are aware of the different factors which make your job stressful and keep an eye on your stress levels to try prevent burnout.