A recent study showed that nearly 60% of Australian primary and secondary teachers intend to leave the profession. It goes without saying that teaching is an essential profession, and avoiding future shortages should be a top priority. Beyond the question of capacity, it’s also important to recognise that teachers deserve to feel supported and valued in their position regardless of their future plans. Whichever way you look at this, it’s clear that there’s significant improvement needed when it comes to long-term teacher support.
While sources of stress can vary between individuals and schools, a separate study found that the most common causes of teacher stress are workload, student behaviour and expectations. Starting an open conversation about teachers’ pressure points is key, so we’ve explored each of these challenges to think about what strategies and resources might make a difference.
It’s plain to see that workload is a primary factor in educators’ dissatisfaction. Training programmes can be a contributing factor as they are often carried out outside of working hours, taking free time away in an already busy schedule. There’s value to be had, then, in implementing time-sensitive training to build teachers’ confidence and skills without adding to their workload.
What’s more, training doesn’t always have to be structured and formal – dedicating time to open discussions, hands-on classroom practice and peer-led observations during school hours are all ways in which to make training a positive and enjoyable experience.
Education technology can also play a role in lessening teacher workloads. For example, cloud-based systems for attendance and attainment can reduce the administrative burden and automate filing processes. Lesson planning and delivery software such as Promethean ActivInspire can also streamline preparatory work and keep out-of-class actions manageable. With tools and activities built in, teachers can draw on existing resources and templates designed for lessons across the curriculum.
Expectations are important as standards must be maintained for the benefit of learners, but there are ways that these can be communicated and managed to avoid requirements becoming overbearing. The idea that teachers must always produce their own unique, bespoke lessons can be demanding – in fact, there’s much more scope for sharing resources between educators within a school.
Structured progression plans, regular check-ins with department leaders or leadership, and open conversations can also help promote transparency and communication so teachers are not always left to work independently.
Tackling difficult behaviour
Difficult student behaviour is another common pressure point, and one that shouldn’t always come down to individual teachers to resolve. The underlying causes of disruptive behaviour can be complex and often impossible or inappropriate to explore in a classroom setting, which is why encouragement is needed. As well as providing specific training to manage behavioural challenges, teachers should be given full confidence that there is a support network available for managing disturbance. Whether it’s a forum to talk openly about individual situations, or the knowledge that more direct measures can be taken if necessary, it’s crucial that no classroom becomes an island when it comes to disciplinary concerns.
Moreover, thought can be given to proactive behaviour management. Developing a positive classroom environment in which students truly enjoy learning can prevent situations from arising so often. A classroom that has taught children ‘how’ to learn and invested them in the process is one that will be supporting wellbeing all-round, and laying the foundations for better attainment and educational outcomes.
These methods carve out a starting point towards better working environments for teachers and while addressing these challenges is by no means easy, it’s clear that providing more effective support is a necessity going forward.
To encourage a positive learning environment, why not read up on healthy ways to implement rules and procedures in the classroom classroom.