Why Is Teaching So Stressful? A Look At Why It May Be That Teaching Is Among The Highest Stress Professions

By Robert Bacal

It's difficult to research the effects of stress on people, let alone on teachers. One reason is that most research is based on self-reports and surveys, and survey instruments rely on the idea that respondents actually give accurate accounts of what's going on inside them.  That's a dubious assumption, but we need to work with what we have.

However, what is clear is that a significant number of teachers, perhaps the majority of teachers feel that the stress levels are incredibly high. Researchers have speculated that stress ends up causing problems regarding teacher retention, can affect student achievement, and may be responsible for up to 40 percent of teachers giving up on teaching within one year of starting.

What we can all agree on is that teacher stress is an issue.

Common Causes of Teacher Stress - Where Does It Come From?

Here are a number of factors that teachers cite when asked about what causes their stress levels. A number of these are actually beyond the control of teachers, which gets at a meta-issue: That one of the huge causes of stress in that teachers do not control and are not part of decision making processes that affect them.

Poor Local Administrators: Teachers get very frustrated when they feel that their administrators, particularly those that lack extensive in-class experience, make poor decisions, and are otherwise difficult to work with, and work for.

Disruptive Student Behavior: Not surprising, teachers experience stress from having to spend significant amounts of time keeping students in line, and making sure the learning process isn't disruptive.

Limited Resources: Teachers are stressed out by situations where they are lacking the tools they feel they need to teach effectively, and talk about how they need to spend their own money for even basic supplies.

Lack of Parental Support: Teachers end up stressed because of the lack of help from "home". Parents who refuse to be a part of solutions, or are in fact, part of the child's problem drive teachers crazy, particularly those that really care about educational outcomes of their students.

Increased Responsibilities and Demands: Teachers are asked to become more and more active in various aspects of childrens' lives, but usually other responsibilities are never removed. It's clear that one can't increase responsibilities infinitely, but teachers have taken on a lot of responsibilities that previously belonged to parents.

What's Important For Teachers To Remember About Stress

It's important for teachers to realize that stress is NOT a condition external to them. Stress results from the way people think about situations, so in fact, what is stressful for one person is not stressful to another. As an example, research suggests that teachers who are TYPE A personalities tend to experience more stress, while teachers who are highly committed to the job of teaching experience and report less stress.

This is important because the causes of teacher stress are "outside" and often beyond any one teacher's control. The good news is that because your stress is intimately linked to how YOU react, it's amenable to change. As with any profession, teachers can learn stress reduction techniques, so that even though they cannot change the "causes" of stress, they can learn to manage themselves more effectively.

That indeed is good news!

What's Below:

Below you'll find a number of links to articles that address teacher stress, either to look at why teaching is one of the top five worst professions stress wise, or how to reduce teacher stress.

Top : Stress and Burnout For Teachers :

Stress and burnout are huge issues within our educational system, due to restricted resources, large classes, adminstrative related problems and a lot more. In this section we'll look at the causes of stress, and what can be done to improve things.

More On Teacher Stress, Burnout, and How To Cope Stress and Burnout For Teachers

American Teachers Feel Really Stressed, And It's Probably Affecting Students - by Rebecca Klein
Reports On Gallup's findings regarding teacher engagement and stress. Use with caution because survey based research can be very misleading. As it is, the effects of stress on student learning are relatively unknown. (Views So Far 288 )

Chilling Story - Teaching robbed me of my health and nearly my life - by na
One teacher's story of how, when teaching doesn't fit the person, it can cause health and serious mental challenges. (Views So Far 228 )

Research: Factors Influencing Stress, Burnout, and Retention of Secondary Teachers - by Molly H. Fisher
Research study that looks at the causes of teacher stress and burnout with the hope of finding ways to reduce teacher turnover, and burnout. Note: This is a PDF file so you will be downloading it to view on your computer. (Views So Far 181 )

Teacher Stress In A Nutshell - by Ken Mrozek
Short PDF file with a summary of some of the research on teacher stress - its causes, possible detrimental effects and more resources. (Views So Far 278 )