Hi. Happy May. My name is Jenson. I was a 2006 corps member in NYC, and I taught first grade in Brownsville, Brooklyn at P.S. 156. Ready for the acronyms? I have been a CMA once, a CS twice, an MTLD thrice, and I am currently coaching a team of CSs and LSs preparing for Tulsa Institute 2014. When not reciting acronyms, I’m a third-year doctoral student at UT Austin in counseling psychology. This part of my life involves doing lots of things: working with children in a psychiatric hospital, learning how to therapize, attempting to ward off soul-crushing debt. But here’s the part that might interest you: I research teacher stress.
As you might have guessed, I didn’t have to enter academia to learn about the issue. Between teaching six-year-olds how to read and teaching teachers the wonders of behavioral narration, I’d gotten a pretty good read on the situation. What interested me most was the way teachers experience stress; what, specifically, most stresses them; and how in the world we might support the mental health and well-being of those in the world’s most important (and stressful) position. The following is a list of some of the things I have learned in three years on the academic side of the field:
- CMs and alums are stressed. For my preliminary doctoral research, I surveyed 62 current and former CMs (all currently in the classroom) and two-thirds ended up in the “stressed group.” Shocker.
- But they’re not alone. Current research suggests that chronic stress plays a significant role in the rising attrition rate for novice teachers in general. Studies also show that pressure to raise student test scores causes teachers to experience more stress and less job satisfaction.
- You’ve got a friend. Relationships among colleagues in school buildings have a huge (maybe even the largest) impact on teacher well-being. This is true for administrators as well. There may be more than one good reason to attend that Thursday-night happy hour…