Teachers have faced and continue to face rough times in class and outside the school, as a result they experience high stress levels which affect them and their work and affects the rate at which they go for early retirement.
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The Australian media has recently captured this plight of teachers. It was realized by researchers that teachers’ high stress levels had impacts on education and the retirement of the teachers. On 21 June 2008, the Courier Mail pointed out that research had revealed that there was a looming crisis of teaching skills since stress had made mature-age workers quit the profession.
Most teachers tend to retire earlier than usual because they did not feel supported by the bureaucracy of education as captured by Mark Keough in his research through interviewing the retired high school teachers. Women tend to retire earlier than men and in that case it is treated as an anomaly because the teaching profession is dominated by women. This reduction in teacher numbers has made it difficult for the existing teachers to handle the students and perform their duties as required, it becomes equally tasking to recruit and employ new teachers since they will have an pre-conception of high stress levels in the teaching profession.
Stress experienced by the teachers comes from different sources. Teachers have also complained about the mismanagement of schools, this has made them to feel the inadequacy in their teaching profession. Teachers feel the increasing aggression of students in the classroom and pressure from outside; from parents and the community. Students have lost respect for teachers and as a result the teachers find it extremely difficult to enforce discipline in their classrooms. The teachers feel more demoralized because they feel that there is no moral and practical support from the principals who offer very little or no backup This is a fact revealed by The Sunday Mail (May 25, 2008) as made known by primary school teacher. A number of teachers have complained although they say that the State Government has continually ignored these stress level concerns. This is evident by the fact that the number of teachers who are compensated for work-related stress has decreased significantly.
Stress levels of teachers are also increased by the record number of assaults on the teachers. Cases of parents and students assaulting teachers, workplace violence, harassment, gangs bringing their fights in schools and cyber bullying have increased significantly. As a result of the increasing stress levels, teachers have opted to take stress leave. Teachers have received compensation for claims launched on physical injuries but they find it hard to overcome psychological injuries.
In cases where principals have been offered better job opportunities with better pay, workplace stress has made some principals not to apply for those vacant principal positions. The problem of rising teacher stress levels has made teaching more and more difficult because teachers have a feeling of insecurity. Teachers therefore needed teaching assistants and support officers to cope with this kind of increasing stress level. (Herald Sun August 6, 2008)
Courier Mai. 2008.
Herald Sun. 2008.
Sunday Mail. 2008.