It is really no stress at all to find an image to feature in a blog on ‘teacher stress’. Many of them are clearly posed (why the need?), images of people who probably aren’t teachers at all because, if they were, their skin would not look this good.
I recently conducted a Twitter poll asking the question,
“If you think that stress at school is too much, what’s causing it?”
I did it mainly because I had never conducted a Twitter poll before and I wanted to work out how to do it. I did it also because, as of Easter, I am no longer working at school (apart from popping in on Wednesdays to tide my A level students over until their exams): I am suddenly a lot less stressed than I used to be, so have the time to witter on twitter.
Here is the poll:
For all my researchy friends, I self-defensively point out some of the caveats to this sort of enquiry:
- The question ‘leads’, by the very mention of stress. (Although, I did give an opt out.)
- Only those teachers browsing Twitter could come across it.
- Only those who follow me on Twitter, or following the 25 who retweeted it, could come across it.
- I didn’t offer an explanation of ‘boss’ in the first option, and in the second what did I mean by ‘etc.’?
But, setting all those reservations aside, I was quite interested in what it threw up. (And 593 responses over one weekend was a lot more than I anticipated.)
If this had been a general election, we would have had a hung parliament with ‘Cuts’ being given the first opportunity to form a government. No single option was a clear winner; indeed, as the weekend unfolded, each option spent some time in the lead. If I had allowed four days, and not three, ‘I’m not stressed’ might easily have topped the poll. In my question, I tried to allow for the fact that stress is bound to exist – what I was interested in was too much of it. Nonetheless, over a quarter of my self-selecting sample aren’t feeling the burn.
Many were kind enough to add their comments. Several of these may have opted for number one or two, given that they cited the many and various pressures of the job. Here are a selection:
The ever-shifting demands, the fact that sometimes these run counter to our own values, or are imposed upon us by external forces such as inspectorates or the media: these are familiar themes and intractable so long as teacher agency is compromised.
Although cuts leading to additional burdens was the commonest answer, it drew fewer comments.
Thanks to everyone who took the time, despite their stress, to respond. I do wonder whether, for some of us, Twitter is a pressure valve allowing us to relieve a little stress in the evening. Perhaps I will conduct another poll…