How Depressing Statistics on Teaching Can Deliver Hope [infographic]
I set out to compile research and statistics for an infographic on the toll that teaching can take on the well-being of teachers and surprisingly walked away with newfound hope.
What I found while composing this infographic is that the sea of educational research is rich with studies and information on the well-being of teachers. This infographic represents a tip of an iceberg of data that describes the social, emotional, and physical toll of teaching.
Some of the research was unexpected and probably deserves its own posts. The idea that solid research links the well-being of teachers to the academic success of their students is huge. This alone should encourage schools to build strong teacher supports. Add on top of that, the fact that teacher well-being is also directly linked to schools’ ability to meet the diverse learning needs of their student bodies – and we have a serious case for an investment in teacher resiliency.
It quickly becomes obvious that one of the puzzle pieces to solving the crisis in education is teacher well-being.
We have entered a cycle of increasing pressures on teachers to raise scores when research points to those very pressures as being a cause of decreased student achievement.
Some of the research made me pause to think. For example, the idea that for teachers lack of time to use the bathroom is the 3rd highest stressor at first seemed, although obvious, kind of silly. The idea that bathroom breaks rate higher than some of the major high-stakes issues teachers face seemed a bit absurd. However, the more I thought about this the more it makes sense. I have been that teacher responsible for nearly 30 young people and with no other adult in sight urgently awaiting the bell to ring. It is uncomfortable, at times painful, and reoccurring. This is physical duress on a regular basis. It impacts the way we feel, think, and act and it makes sense that it is a major stressor in the profession of teaching.
Some of the research was expected. The large number of new teachers who leave the profession, the number of pressures, and the level of stress…
What I didn’t expect to find while researching the toll of teaching was hope.
Teaching can be a lonely profession. Sure you are part of a staff and a district. There is are unions, organizations, online groups, etc. However, when the bell rings we inevitably close the door to our classroom and face a room full of students all by ourselves. I know, from my own teaching experiences, that it is not uncommon for an entire day to slip by without speaking to anyone old enough to vote. Unless I seek out support or collaboration I often don’t find it. One major stressor for teachers is that the work is never done. No matter how organized we are, no matter how many lunches we work through, how early we arrive before school and how late we leave after school, there will always be more work to do. So, it is not uncommon to get into a pattern of isolation.
So, how did this somewhat depressing infographic deliver hope?
It demonstrated that when teaching gets us down, we are not alone. That when we are stressed, overwhelmed, or even questioning our placement, we are not alone. This is powerful. Knowing that when we close the door to our classroom to face the school day and all it has to offer, that there are many, many others behind closed doors who are facing the same struggles and feeling the same frustrations. This gives me hope because there is power in numbers. These numbers can not be ignored and the stakes are high. Schools are beginning to take note and the hope reigns supreme.
However, hope is not action. The picture painted from this infographic is a profession that is hurting. A profession that needs support and is ready for a change. Research, statistics, information all back the need for more support for teacher well-being. I am passionate that this need be met. It is the foundation of Joy in Teaching.