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SCHOOLS IN CRISIS: One-in-four new teachers 'burnt out'

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Brett Henebery | 08 Dec 2014, 03:52 PM Agree 0
What are some ways you cope with burnout?
  • JoeCitizen | 09 Dec 2014, 03:57 PM Agree 0
    Breathe, relax and remember that when the school bell rings, it means the school day is over. You have a whole other life outside grading students and lesson planning.
  • Paul | 10 Dec 2014, 02:30 PM Agree 0
    And enjoy the 12 weeks a year that you have to regenerate (nearly a quarter of the year). No other "profession" is afforded this luxury. (The label "profession" is in quotation marks because teachers have a trade union and can go on strike - this is not acceptable conduct in most recognised "professions")
    • Professional Teacher | 19 Dec 2014, 11:35 AM Agree 0
      What do you do, I wonder, Paul?
    • Sally | 14 Jan 2015, 12:14 PM Agree 2
      Hi Paul,

      In NSW Public Schools we get 5 weeks holidays over summer and 6 weeks during the year off class. Nearly all public holidays fall during this 11 week period. In addition to this, many colleagues and I work at least two full-time weeks at home during the summer break before going back to school in January and 1 full-time week (at least) in each of the other holidays. I believe that whilst working from home is easier work I do not have the 11 weeks holiday that is perceived by the community. On top of that, despite what the study says, the teachers I work with would easily work 50 hour weeks regularly and during report writing weeks 60 to 70 hour weeks. The 42.7 hours may come from the hours spent at work and not the hours done at home. I did a word count on my mid-year reports for my students last year and they totalled approximately 28,000 words of writing. We do these reports over weekends and late into the evenings with a very short window of opportunity to complete them. We attend meetings (eg. learning support, admin, exec, team (such as literacy), stage/grade) each week; we participate or lead professional development; we prepare programs and individual learning plans; we organise carnivals; we run dance, music, chess, sport etc at lunchtimes; we set up art and science lessons; we meet with parents, organise rosters, excursions, incursions, special assemblies, mini-fetes, Y6 farewells and school concerts etc; we contribute to OH&S; we order books and supplies; we write excursion letters, answer emails, organise risk assessments; we mark books and write and mark assessments with marking rubrics; and, we are required to differentiate the curriculum and prepare hands on materials for many lessons. We spend our own money (significant amounts) on resources, internet subscriptions, books, stickers, additional art and science supplies etc; We do this because it is the job itself - educating Australian students - which is rewarding. But all of these additional things, which are on top of the actual teaching that occurs 9-3 lead us to exhaustion and stress. We do have a union to represent us, and gratefully so. The enormous lack of understanding of what a teacher's work encompasses by the community and people such as yourself, strongly suggests a need for an advocate for our rights as workers.
    • Sally | 16 Jan 2015, 10:52 AM Agree 0
      Actually it is 6 weeks at summer!
    • Realist | 03 Feb 2015, 10:03 AM Agree 0
      The ignorance is strong with this one...
    • Chris | 19 Jun 2017, 01:43 PM Agree 0
      Hmmm. Here are some professions... Miner (3 weeks on 1 week off) , politician (parliament sat 54 days in 2006) , oil riggers (same as miners), custom (border patrol) (up to 6 months off if on border patrol similar to miner) etc. Some of them have more than 6 months off a year and still get paid more. Teachers work beyond 3:00pm, they work on school holidays and they think about their students 24/7 x 365 days a year. I'm pretty sure all the other professions who have their time off don't think of their 'customers' like teachers. Anytime you wish Paul work-shadow a teacher and see what they do, better yet get your degree and come and teach. We need the help.
    • Leeanne | 25 Jun 2017, 06:24 PM Agree 0
      Oh please, come and teach my 32 students, some with special needs, without help from anyone and see if you need a holiday. We need the holidays to mentally recover working 7 days a week at school and at home, always doing the endless amount of paper work. If you are not a teacher you have no idea!!!!!!!!!!!!
  • Kris | 10 Dec 2014, 03:07 PM Agree 0
    If there was no "trade union" for this "profession" then we would have teachers working all the the term breaks, weekends and nights!!!
    An experienced "Mentor" is the best support a school can provide.
  • C Mai | 10 Dec 2014, 08:06 PM Agree 0
    Teaching is a rewarding profession. To think we have a major influence on the future generations is a great reseponsibility. Over the years however our role has changed. Educating our young people is not just about teaching them content knowledge. Our role is preparing them for life. Building character, teaching them about respect, resilience, citizenship, collaboration etc takes commitment, patience and time. The complexities of our role in supporting families also takes its toll. We need to remember to balance our dedication and commitment with realistic expectations of what we can achieve with the limited resources we have. Great teachers make a significant impact.
  • Cassie | 11 Dec 2014, 09:47 AM Agree 0
    I think that red tape is taking over the profession, we are beeing buried under a mountain of paper work that is deemed mandatory, teachers are losing time to prepare and are forced to take work home, so although the thought of work life balance is fantastic the reality is that something has to give. As for the 12 weeks that no other profession gets, i challenge anyone in another profession to work as a teacher for 1 whole term take on all the reponsibilities and not be praying for holidays after 10 weeks.
    we have the reponsibility of shaping young minds and teaching our future yet in the ranking of professionals were at the bottom, how does that work.
  • JC | 14 Dec 2014, 05:49 PM Agree 0
    42.7 hours per week is only the half of it. For most of my 17 year career I've worked 70 - 80 hours per week. When engaged in further study, which in some systems can be compulsory, that went up to 80 - 90 hrs pw. During term times, evenings and weekends are not my own. I would say that 50% of my holidays are spent in school. The only holiday that's a real break as such is the summer holiday. I am far from alone in working like this. There's also a wealth of evidence that shows the disparity between primary and secondary, with primary teachers working significantly longer than secondary. (But no matter the level, the job is a hard one)! In the last 17 years I've encountered great ignorance from people that think teaching is cushy, that we start at 9 and finish at 3:30... and then there are those holidays. Well yes, the holidays are good but you need them to catch up and recover.
  • Bev | 14 Dec 2014, 09:52 PM Agree 1
    Interesting to note that we constantly are talking about being professionals and most are truly professional in their approach, however we are not paid as professionals. Many trades people earn more than we do. Obviously we are not in it for the money, its for our children that we turn up and use our skills in the best possible way. What other professional is seen just because a person turns up, without appointment, demanding to see us, even though we might be in a meeting, on class or busy with the other 100 things we cope with in a day. Why do we put up with such lack of respect and trust? We do it because we believe in what we do and it is for the children!
  • Kim | 15 Jan 2015, 08:39 AM Agree 0
    With the heavy workload we now have, I see experienced teachers who are burnt out. These are excellent teachers who will leave the system too early because of lack of support.
  • | 23 Jan 2015, 03:18 PM Agree 0
    Very true. Hopefully this will be something that the Government and the education sector pays close attention to in 2015.
  • Wibble | 13 May 2015, 08:42 AM Agree 0
    Huge workload, long hours, high stress, far too little support and poor pay. Why do so may teachers last less than 5 years I wonder? I lasted 3 and then moved on. Best thing I ever did for me and my family. Sad for education that we lose so may teachers for avoidable reasons.
  • Mrs F | 13 May 2015, 09:03 PM Agree 0
    Paul. Hmmmm? Where do I start? Nope. I've got nothin'!
  • Ursula | 14 May 2015, 12:29 AM Agree 0
    That is the most brilliant detailed summation of a teachers life. Thank you for putting it all down in words. I'll be sharing that with many.
  • Fee | 14 May 2015, 05:00 AM Agree 1
    These same people like Paul ^^^^ who think teachers have it easy, will be the ones complaining about the quality of education in a few years when there are hardly any good teachers left in the workforce...... Because young ones are leaving, experienced ones are leaving and also are advising young people to seriously rethink teaching as a career. The requirements to gain entry to university teaching courses are dropping dramatically to keep teacher numbers acceptable. And will drop further as nearly half of the profession is due to retire in the next 5-10 years.
    Maybe when teaching is outsourced to call centres with people reading/teaching from manuals and Paul's ^^^^ children and grandchildren have no academic (or social since we spend a lot of out day doing this) skills, he might have a different view!!
  • kooka | 14 May 2015, 09:37 AM Agree 0
    Can you guess why, after more than forty-four years in education, I am retiring because of health problems related to work stress?
    • Cuteboy | 27 May 2015, 05:15 PM Agree 0
      Oh no, hope you are ok. Maybe it is time to have a rest. Forget about the students.
  • jen | 06 Jun 2015, 11:08 AM Agree 0
    As a new graduate who has lots of life/parenting and other experience I agree with the comment suggesting an experienced mentor system, I have lots of practical life skills that i bring to the profession yet lack the essential knowledge that experienced teachers possess.
    My experience is that as an older 'graduate' who appears competent and calm (to some extent) other staff assume you are familiar with all the systems and protocols required and are so busy that there is rarely time to de brief-share knowledge.
    I have just completed my first block of three weeks, teaching three out of area subjects as well as my areas it was full on from the start and staff were too busy to stop and chat etc.... a mentor would have been fantastic.
    Also no access to administration until first day, using another staff members access (casuals have no access to internal systems)
  • Sarah | 11 Jun 2015, 08:58 PM Agree 0
    How about reduce the number of students per class, and reduce the workload. That would work.
  • Rebecca | 11 Jun 2015, 08:59 PM Agree 0
    I coped by quitting.
  • Nighteynight | 03 Aug 2015, 11:37 PM Agree 1
    I can't help but reflect on all of this as I sit at my work PC at 11:30PM, having just (almost) finished making some number support activities for a few students. Next week I'll probably get to do it all over again.
  • Helen | 12 Aug 2015, 05:33 PM Agree 0
    Teachers and administrators deserve to enjoy the long holiday breaks. I smile with joy at the thought that during their holidays they might be lying in pools on inflatable rafts somewhere, sipping cocktails, and I hope they do. They do a lot of work during the term outside of hours, and lunch is typically a gobbled down sandwich that they managed to eat in the 10 - 20 minutes between the last period before lunch and either doing lunch duty or doing other work. Many teachers have difficulties with finding time to go to the toilet during the day! Plenty of them have to contend with student violence or even violent or threatening parents, on a routine basis. I don't see too many other professions - and I'm not going to use the inverted commas - having to deal with those challenges. Goodness knows what they would be dealing with if there wasn't a union...
  • Ummm ok | 17 Aug 2015, 11:55 AM Agree 0
    "Breathe, relax and remember that when the school bell rings, it means the school day is over. You have a whole other life outside grading students and lesson planning."

    Maybe in a perfect world, Joe Citizen. But actually that grading and planning stuff you mention happens to take up whatever life you have left. And by that I mean all your spare time and mental energy.
  • Miss Fed Up | 25 Oct 2015, 02:08 PM Agree 0
    Paul ..... Grrrrrrr. You are the reason good teachers leave. I myself am at this crossroad debating whether after 3 years I want to do this or not. It's because of ignorant people like you. One thing everyone's forgotten that is even when we get holidays ... Powe get them alongside all the kids we'd probably prefer to be completely away from!

    I am a mature starter too and I feel people forget I'm a graduate really. No support, more paperwork than teaching, extra duties during breaks, politics driving curriculum that changes so frequently, expectations of parents that can drop in and next to abuse you .... And my all time fave ..... Kids of today need to know that ... Let's make teachers do it!

    Why does anyone do it? Because they love helping children achieve their best.

  • | 28 Oct 2015, 06:59 PM Agree 0
    Paul ....let's swap jobs for 12 weeks. We'll see who goes the distance. FYI ...I don't belong to a union and I'm guessing you have nothing but your own ill-informed, subjective and prejudicial perspective to call on.
    Of course you went to school so you must be an expert.
    • ian | 28 Apr 2016, 10:28 PM Agree 0
      Wasn't hard to work out you are a union basher. I'm not sure when you become an expert, the best you can give is total commitment and your best.
  • Claire | 17 Nov 2015, 11:53 AM Agree 0
    If you don't use your weekends and evenings to plan how are you supposed to get the best out of your students? I would love to have more of a social life but teaching just doesn't work like that. The role of Assistant Principal is doubly hard as you have to have exemplary teaching practice, be a mentor or coasch to your team and do all of the compliance that is part of school life- maybe I should have said triply :0)
    Holidays???? LOL
  • Dianne Williams | 17 Mar 2016, 08:34 AM Agree 0
    The common thread throughout the letters is this: "We teach because we love it; we find it rewarding; we embrace the responsibility and opportunity to guide, educate and sometimes change young lives." My retort is: "To our detriment do we insist on adding such comments to our otherwise compelling arguments."
    The consequence and upshot of our naïve idealism (yes, I am among those who love teaching) is that the very words we define ourselves with are the words that determine how we are treated. Why would market forces or governments - or Principals - offer us fewer contact hours, fewer supervisory chores and more money, when we dilute and diminish the weight of our indignation with the noble, yet thoroughly pathetic, declaration that 'we tolerate this rubbish because we love our work'? Good grief and heaven save us, because we are too busy getting into the kingdom of martyrs to save ourselves.
  • Rick | 18 Mar 2016, 07:58 PM Agree 0
    Wonder why Paul hasn't bothered to reply.. Maybe gone fishing?
  • ian | 28 Apr 2016, 10:20 PM Agree 0
    To Paul 10/12/14. Yes teachers do have a union, because they don't rely and know they don't have a benevolent union. Yes they can go on strike but there is a very onerous procedure to go through before teachers, in state schools, in NSW can go on strike. Perhaps Paul might do that research and see how difficult it is for the union to call a strike, like having secret ballots supervised (and paid for by the union) by the electoral commission, publishing the results and then giving notice (I think it's a month but I'm not sure of that fact). Maybe some more research for Paul. Maybe Paul could also research the fines and penalties that apply. I am a retired teacher of 40 years and it's not state governments that have agreed to gains, like smaller class sizes in Kindergarten, (etc etc), it's the industrial muscle that protected students (and teachers), in state schools. State schools, students and staff working in them will be worse off in the near future because of current legislation. The best thing is THE WHEEL WILL TURN TOWARDS SOME SENSIBILITY.
  • Another_Andrew | 19 Jul 2016, 04:33 PM Agree 0
    To the terrific teachers of Australia - I salute you! I seriously do. It should be of great concern to all everyone else that your profession is suffering so much. It seems that this is a broken system. I want to know that our children are getting a great education that prepares them for a dynamic yet uncertain future - We need to support those who are in the front line to deliver it.
    If I may ask, what do you believe is the primary contributor to the stress? Is it that the classroom has now become a hostile environment? is it the mandate to deliver curriculum? what else?
    There has been work going on (of which I am part) to redesign the learning environment (as an MLE). I am interested in knowing if this potentially lessens or increases stress? and why? how else can the experrience be improved so as to engage students more fully and create a more rewarding and healthier workplace for teachers.
  • Norman Stone | 26 Jul 2016, 09:12 AM Agree 0
    None of the five recommendations includes campaigning for improved working conditions, additional resources, or even administrative support, as if the stress was entirely due to teachers' own poor time and resource management. As if you could cure starvation by "taking smaller bites."
  • Betty | 02 Sep 2016, 09:17 PM Agree 0
    I'm a teacher. Yes, I agree that teachers work well beyond the 9-3 term time. I also agree that their role has changed greatly since my mum taught many years ago. We now wear many more hats than the traditional teacher used to. I also agree that the Australian system is not particularly well funded. But - I really believe that most professions work 52 weeks a year with 4 weeks annual leave. They work MUCH longer than 9-3 and many work more than 70 hours per week. I still think you could leave the teaching profession, end up working many more hours per week, possible paid less, write weekly reports and have huge amounts of stress. I still think that while the manority of people have absolutely no clue what work goes into being a teacher that many other professions have the same situations. I had many uni peers who went into teaching thinking that they only had to work 9-3 48 weeks a year. Most left the profession within a couple of years - and most happily found that their degrees and experience as a teacher meant that they wee qualified for a wide range of other professions. With my own children - they have really benefited from having teachers who teach as a vocation vs teachers who do it as a job. Just sayin'
  • Heidi | 26 Mar 2017, 09:31 PM Agree 0
    Couldn't have said it better!
  • william | 07 Apr 2017, 05:15 PM Agree 0
    This is really very bad.
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