These are hard times for those who work in schools. It is an assertion that doesn’t surprise anyone nowadays, given the countless cases of humiliation, violence and abuse that the school has as a scenario and that the news report. The profession of the teacher and of the head teacher is fully among those considered to be at risk of running into the burnout syndrome, that state of demotivation and apathy that comes from feeling exhausted, emptied of a psychologically demanding activity.
It is a threat to its very nature linked to all the jobs that fall under the so-called helping professions, in which it provides assistance to someone or bring their skills to the service of others: it is the case of doctors, psychologists, nurses and many other categories of workers such as teachers. The continuous contact with other people in need of attention and the need to put their needs in the background to devote themselves to others, maintaining the necessary availability and lucidity, can be very time consuming for the worker.
School workers often manifest psychosomatic symptoms but also a sense of frustration, fatigue and detachment that threaten the quality of their daily work and social relationships. The general cause that produces stress is the imbalance between the resources that are believed to have, personal or instrumental (for example those that make available the school and the administration to manage the work), and the numerous requests that come from the work in itself, like bureaucratic tasks, fast rhythms, problems and complexities that come from contact with users.
Executives and teachers work with the human, deal directly or indirectly, to promote the development of individuals and perform, at the same time, a job that obliges them to compare and negotiate with other people. This exposes them to high cognitive demands, because they have to keep many elements in mind and make decisions that are difficult and decisive for many people – but also emotional, because they have to manage their emotions, especially the negative ones, keeping those that could threaten less evident and more controlled. the relationship with others. This requires great daily efforts, often exhausting.
What emotional impact does the relationship with pupils have on teachers?
The research conducted by the Ansbi addressed to teachers showed how the relationship that is held with their students is just one of the main causes of stress. This pressure is a consequence of the diversity and complexity of the requests that come from the students.
Can the effects of this stress influence the effectiveness of teaching?
The international literature, gives us a lot of data about it. A teacher subjected to excessive stress, who can not regenerate personally and use the resources that the school can supply takes a self-defense attitude from what s/he perceives as threatening. A teacher who is professionally worn out of work and without support can consider any novelty and request coming from pupils, parents and managers threatening for personal health and balance. One may tend to assume a more marginal role in school life, limiting to carrying out work in a mechanical way. Nothing more deleterious for the motivation of the students and for the climate of the class, which are strictly dependent on the attitude of the teacher.
What are the main reasons for the stress of school leaders?
In the survey conducted by the Onbi on behalf of the National Association of public managers and high professionalism of the School has emerged that the managers, in 90% of cases, warn the requests coming from above as excessive and bearers of a great sense of fatigue at the end of the day.
That of the head teacher is turning into a bureaucratic work, which leaves little room for educational planning and reflection on important issues related to growth but also to the acquisition of skills on the part of the pupils. This is a topic that would require hours of reflection and discussion on what are the best methods to teach, on which educational strategies to apply, in a coherent and unanimous way to address, for example, the new educational challenges that pupils bring to the classroom. Unfortunately, however, these aspects remain sadly on the margins.
What is the role played by the economic treatment of school operators in this context?
This is certainly an important factor. The economic treatment has an influence on the general well-being of the worker and on the perception of his role. The social recognition of teachers, which also passes through retribution, however is still late in coming!