Deal­ing with teacher’s stress

Per­sonal well-be­ing pro­gramme tar­gets stretched ed­u­ca­tors

The Mercury - - METRO - SE-ANNE RALL se-anne.koop­

“A LOT of peo­ple are quick to judge and blame the teacher when there’s been a vi­o­lent out­burst, but they don’t stop to think about how over­whelmed these teach­ers are. Teach­ers of­ten have to play the role of both teacher and par­ent.”

This is ac­cord­ing to psy­chol­o­gist and co-founder of Well­be­ing in Schools & Ed­u­ca­tion, Carol Surya.

She said South African schools were ex­pe­ri­enc­ing es­ca­lat­ing ag­gres­sion and vi­o­lence, with teach­ers and pupils in­ter­chang­ing the roles of per­pe­tra­tors and vic­tims.

“It’s a sit­u­a­tion deeply at odds with what the learn­ing en­vi­ron­ment needs to be: safe, nur­tur­ing, in­spir­ing and cre­ative,” she said.

Surya said in­stead, many schools were on a knife-edge, with teach­ers lash­ing out and pupils bul­ly­ing. When the per­cep­tion is that per­sonal sur­vival is at stake, learn­ing is pushed on to the back-burner.

Teach­ing, it turns out, is a high­stress pro­fes­sion world­wide. Ac­cord­ing to a re­cent UK study, teach­ers ex­pe­ri­ence more stress than many other work­ers. This is ex­ac­er­bated in the South African con­text where poverty, HIV/Aids, men­tal health is­sues, vi­o­lence, crime, gang­ster­ism, do­mes­tic abuse, child abuse and sub­stance abuse are far more intense.

With this month be­ing Stress Aware­ness Month, Wise aims to spot­light the im­por­tance of help­ing teach­ers to cope with their high stress lev­els.

“Sadly, there are many vul­ner­a­ble chil­dren who don’t have par­ents in the home, so teach­ers of­ten have to play the role of both teacher and par­ent.”

Wise runs a per­sonal well-be­ing pro­gramme for teach­ers, teach­ing

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