The end of the year is approaching for many of us. A lucky few might even be out already. But in order to reach the big payoff - summer vacation - we have to deal with the stresses that the last few weeks bring: end of the year exams, summer schools lists, parents who do not understand why their children are failing, rooms to be cleaned and items to be stored, accounts to be reconciled, and many more items that I'm sure I missed. And of course your personal life continues to move forward through all of this. Heaven forbid you get sick at this time of year!
So how can educators handle all of this stress? Unfortunately there is not one answer. However, we can find a lot of relief by practicing a positive attitude towards all of the problems facing us. This makes all of the difference.
Causes of Stress
Teachers today are expected to fulfill so many roles, not the least of which is to actually teach. In many places throughout the country they are to perform their 'duties' with very little pay. In what other job with a Master's Degree are you earning barely $6000 more after 10 years of experience than when you first started?
As the school year nears its end, many teachers find other roles being thrust upon them. Their duties increase while they still have to deal with grading assignments, writing tests, and of course teaching class. Let's look at a few of the reasons why the end of the year might cause stress:
- Too much work - Not only are teachers figuring out final grades, but they are also cleaning their rooms, gathering lesson plans, and performing numerous other required tasks.
- Time pressures and deadlines - Just remembering the deadlines for everything from failure notices to final grades everything can be a real chore.
- Apparent lack of support - Sometimes the administrative staff is less than supportive of the myriad problems faced by the classroom teacher at the end of the year. They too have items they have to complete before the year ends and teachers' concerns sometimes take a back seat.
- Unclear expectations - This can occur with new teachers or teachers at a new school who are not sure what the end of the year procedures are.
- Responsibility for students' grades - Even though as teachers we know that students EARN their grades, it often feels that parents and students place failing grades on the shoulders of the teachers. This is especially compounded in Senior Year where the grade means the difference between a diploma and no diploma
- Disruptions - You've just sat down at the end of the day to work on those research papers and realize that a meeting has been called. Unfortunately, many responsibilities exist outside of the classroom that require attention.