In response to requests from several quarters to explore the ways in which the added stresses of online and remote learning, social restrictions, working from home and everything else that has come with COVID-19 have affected teachers this year, I conducted a survey.
Open to all teachers worldwide, I distributed the survey both on social media and via professional networks.
I asked teachers to respond honestly to nine questions, which I formulated based on comments and social media posts by teachers. To remove any possible disincentive for honesty, participation in this survey was completely voluntary and anonymous.
Thus far, there is only a relatively small number of respondents , and my little survey is by no means scientific research. Still, the results thus far bear out my own experience and observations, and what I have heard others saying: as resilient and committed as we might be, it has been a really rough year that has left teachers exhausted and, at times, quite discouraged.
- 79% of respondents say they have been much more stressed and tired than previously
- 21% reported no change in their levels of stress and tiredness.
- There does not appear to be any correlation between how tired and stressed people are and the number of years of experience they have as a teacher.
- 50% of respondents said their stress was created by their own expectations of themselves
- 36% said that other people’s expectations of them as a teacher created their stress
- 14% reported that their stress came from the media’s continual reporting of COVID-19 related news and issues.
- 64% of people said that the tiredness experienced was longer term than usual, while 36% that it was about the same.
- 29% said they had consumed more alcohol in 2020 than in previous years
- 71% said their alcohol consumption was about the same as in previous years.
- 36% of people also said they had increased their caffeine intake
- 36% said that their caffeine intake had not changed.
- It did seem that there was a correlation between people who had increased alcohol consumption and increased caffeine consumption with
- The respondents’ responses regarding nutrition, though, was interesting.
- Only 28% said their eating patterns had not changed
- 7% said they had paid more attention to good nutrition
- 65% said they had paid less attention to good nutrition.
- 79% said they wanted to continue their career as a teacher.
- 14% said they would only keep on teaching because they felt they had no choice.
- Sadly, 7% said that the stress of the year had brought an end to their teaching career.
- 14% of respondents said they had sought medical advice for issues related to the stress of teaching this year.
- None had sought counselling.
This final statistic is, to me, evidence of our collective resilience and commitment: we’re stressed and we’re tired, but we keep on going.
I do wonder, though, if we as a profession need to be more proactive in seeking help and support when we are experiencing increased levels of stress and tiredness, and possibly not taking such great care of ourselves at the same time.
The key to my own determination to keep going this year has been that I wasn’t actually doing it for me– I was doing it for the kids. I suspect that most of us feel the same way. It’s not just me, and not just my colleagues, having a hard year. It’s everyone. Every family, every community, every workplace, every career, every school, every student… you get the idea.
If I can model resilience, positive attitude and commitment to making the best of a tough situation, that’s exactly what I’m going to do my best to achieve.
I hope my students are encouraged by my commitment to them. I hope they learn from my example. And boy oh boy, do I hope their parents are watching, because I want them to love this school and to understand how much we value them and their children.
I have been enormously encouraged by a my colleagues, and some have said that I have been an encouragement to them. The members of my faculty office have been a lifeline for me as we laughed, cried, and collaborated together throughout the experience of teaching remotely for two terms of this most challenging year. The entire staff of my school committed from the outset to making the whole deal of working from home and teaching online something that was achievable, coordinated and professionally delivered. “That will do” was never going to be acceptable.
At the end of every school term, I comment that the break is well-deserved. That has never been more true than at this end of 2020.
As the final term of 2020 winds down to a close and teachers (and students!) everywhere look forward to the Christmas break, I truly hope we are all able to stop working long enough to get some much needed rest and downtime.
Merry Christmas, Teachers. You’ve earned it.
End-of-Term Teacher Tired.Tweet
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