The Mercury

Dealing with teacher’s stress

Personal well-being programme targets stretched educators


“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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