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Teacher Stress and Wellbeing

Stress, Burnout and Secondary Trauma as well as Resiliency and Self Care

Peta-anne Burns

on 23 July 2014

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Transcript of Teacher Stress and Wellbeing

Studies show that those at risk or suffering from
compassion fatigue are most likely "other-directed"
In the Talmud, a wise rabbi posed three questions we should all ask ourselves constantly:

If I am not for myself, who will be for me?
If I am only for myself, what good am I?
If not now, when?

Compassion Satisfaction:
Pleasure and satisfaction derived from working in a helping profession.

Related to
Providing care
Being in the system
Beliefs about self
Support from managers
Compassion Fatigue:
the negative aspects of working in human services.

These aspects may be related to:
* Workload
* Lack of organisational support
* Beliefs about own competency

Work-related vicarious exposure to
extremely or traumatic stressful
events can create PTSD symptoms.

It is about being AFRAID.
Organizational symptoms of Compassion Fatigue include:

High absenteeism
Greater staff turnover
Constant changes in co-workers relationship, inability for teams to work well together, lack of flexibility
Unsafe working practices
Decreased productivity
Negativity towards the system
Poor morale, lack of vision for the future
Compassion fatigue symptoms in an individual include:

Bottled up emotions
Isolation from others
Voices excessive complaints about administrative functions
Substance abuse or other compulsive behaviors to mask feelings
Poor self-care (i.e., hygiene, appearance)
Sleep difficulties, though mentally and physically tired
Chronic physical ailments such as gastrointestinal problems and recurrent colds
Apathy, sad, no longer finds activities pleasurable
Difficulty concentrating
Rumination and preoccupation about problems
Outwardly in denial about problems or shifting of blame when others notice/comment
Burnout is a gradual onset psychological syndrome of emotional exhaustion, hopelessness, depersonalization and reduced personal accomplishment and effectiveness.

It is about having your normal coping mechanisms WORN OUT.
What Drains You?
What fills you up?

Consider therapeutic actions, not palliative (be kind to yourself)
• Enhance your awareness with education.
• Exchange information and feelings with people
who can validate you. USE SUPERVISION!
• Clarify your personal boundaries, what works for
you; what doesn't.
• Express your needs verbally.
• Take positive action to change your environment.
Compassion Fatigue
can become
a contagion in the
workplace if not managed.
When it hits critical mass,
the service can suffer.
Having a laugh
(sometimes our humour is quite black!)
Compassion Fatigue is a term, NOT a disease.
The associated symptoms are normal displays of chronic stress resulting from giving care to others.
Staff Matters
Research has shown:

A clear link between staff mental health and student mental health and wellbeing
The importance of having functional adults in schools as role models and the key adult for many students
The enormous impact on classroom learning of individual teachers and their feelings of self-confidence and efficacy.
Exhaustion, Frustration, Anger
Traumatised by work
or having a bath!
Cooking or baking
Separating work from home
Having a transition to make the division
Not bringing work home
Not bringing work to social events
(aka not Tweeting about your job!)
Here's a surprise - you are not ONLY your job!
Further Reading
Teaching is the
greatest act of
Colleen Wilcox

To Weep for a Stranger: Compassion Fatigue in Caregiving. Patricia Smith

The Compassion Fatigue Workbook.
Françoise Mathieu

YOU are the ONLY person responsible for your self care
The ProQoL
30 question scale to identify how individuals view their helping work, this includes teachers, counsellors and carers of all sorts

Important for people within the education sector understand the reality of teacher well-being

Important to recognise the signs and symptoms of stress or burnout and to take steps to prevent or reduce impact

Important for own welfare, as well as family and students.

Teacher quality is one of the most influential factors in determining student achievement
Consequences of extreme teacher stress
Loss of skilled teachers
Higher absenteesim > more stress on colleagues
Less effective teaching
Impaired health
Financial and personal strain
Top Stressors
Concerns about career path
Time pressure to prepare and deliver
curriculum, assessment and reports
Poor colleague relationships
Poor student-teacher relationships
Role conflict: work/life balance
Difficult working conditions
Technology stressors
Catering to diversity and special needs
Lack of control and decision making
Feelings of personal inadequacy/competence
Extra-organizational stressors

So what's to be scared of in teaching?
Verbal and physical violence from and between students
Student home life and trauma history
Parent aggression
False accusations
Accidents and critical incidents
Legal actions around negligence
The Research
41% of teachers report high levels of occupational stress compared with 31% of people in nursing, 29% in managerial jobs and 27% per cent in professional and support management occupations.
100 Queensland teachers made successful Workcover claims for psychological injury in the 2010-2011 year. The total payout was $3,407, 911
Why is this topic important?
The Interpersonal Domain

Our relationships with colleagues and the social aspects of work impacts on our enjoyment and performance of our job.
The Organisational Domain
The organisation has a role in encouraging and supporting health and wellbeing of staff.
The Professional Domain
Focus is on positive impact of success at work and its relationship to our overall mental health and wellbeing.
The Thriving Self
Focuses on the importance of clarifying individual values and beliefs about mental health and wellbeing and how these values and beliefs interact at work.
Coping mechanisms (Palliative)
Self-Care (Therapeutic)



Watching TV or a movie

Eating favourite foods


Talking to, or hanging out with friends

Listening to music

Creating music
Going for a run

Or a walk

Or any form of exercise
P. Riley, Monash University, 2013 (unpublished)
Teaching is considered to be in the top 10 of stressful professions, ranking in the range of surgeons, combat soldiers, firefighters and air traffic controllers.
In 2002-2003, 18% of staff in the Australian education sector made claims for mental stress.
From "Work-Related Mental Disorders in Australia"
Australian Safety and Compensation Council 2005.
Workcover Qld 2011
Sanders, 2005


Enjoying nature
Using active
Between 40% to 50% of “early career” teachers – defined as recent graduates with less than five years of practical experience – ultimately seek work in another profession, a nationwide figure that’s consistent with research published in the UK and US.
Teachers are feeling underprepared by university to undertake some of the complex interpersonal stressors of the job.
Full transcript