Stress and Anger (pt.1)

A couple of recent articles on the TES paint a very accurate picture of some of the difficulties facing teachers in their emotional work. I'll talk about the first today, which is all about stress (I'll leave anger for another day - there's only so much I can take!)

The first article is written by Natasha Devon - the writer who used to advise the government on mental health in education (before the role was quietly abolished). She makes the very important point that stress felt by teachers will inevitably impact children. I'd expand this important point in two ways:

"Teacher stress will inevitably cascade downwards towards pupils"

"Teacher stress will inevitably cascade downwards towards pupils"

1. The cascading works both ways: our stress infects children and the stress of our managers stresses us out, but so too the stress children experience is transmitted to us, and our stress impacts on our managers. We as teachers need to break out of the mindset that holds that we are only affected-by, and acted-on. We also have an impact and need to be aware of this,

2. It's not just stress that spreads infectiously throughout organisations - especially in caring organisations such as schools - it's also other negative emotions such as anger, fear and resignation. And further, it's positive emotions too: enthusiasm and bravery and love spread infectiously, and schools run on these.

Devon goes on to point out the constricting effect that guilt and shame play in this infection spreading, as teachers (in common with other professionals in the caring professions) are afraid of admitting to the emotional impact their work has on them. In my experience this is so true, and such a missed opportunity, as it is only by becoming aware of, and communicating about the emotional work we do, that we can engage with these influences and use them for the good of ourselves and our pupils.