Education Week reports on a study that adds to the literature on linkages between teacher and student stress.
First, let me get this out of the way.
For the study, researchers surveyed 17 teachers in grades 4 to 7 on their potential burnout, and then tested over 400 students in those teachers’ classrooms for stress levels by collecting saliva samples three times in one day.
I get it, cortisol levels. Gross.
There are, of course, limitations to this kind of research.
But from an anecdotal standpoint, this makes a ton of sense. Even if you think about when a test is administered throughout a school. The entire culture changes. The adults are on edge because of security concerns and the additional people in the building just waiting for folks to make a mistake. Not to mention that your life’s work is be evaluated by something you’ve never seen before and won’t ever get to see. (You may get results by February of the next school year, BTW. Good luck with that.)
In a school like ours, which is a “priority,” we have eight different people coming by telling us what we’re doing wrong on this checklist or that. These hit and run, ten minute observations. We have to abide by several checklists in fact for a variety of competing requirements. It almost feels like every single interaction you have with administration, or his or her close circle, could land you in the hot seat.
When I’ve had a bad observation, before I get around to feeling sorry for myself, I begin by blaming the students. Why couldn’t you just follow directions, or sit down, or whatever? I’ll admit, I’ve gotten short when I returned from a feedback meeting, and I almost need some time away to cool down. And these are five and six year old kids, mind you.
When someone at work is undervalued, not appreciated, and lacks autonomy, how could this not have an impact on our students? Additionally, in schools where students are already stressed by their circumstances of, Christ, living and breathing, then leadership should get the message that how they treat the adults impacts how our students learn.
What classes or degree programs do leaders take that tell them this is how you treat people?