Friday, January 06, 2017

Teachers And Stress, The Unseen Reason Why Good Teachers Quit.



















As a second career teacher I know what it was like to work in an office and now in the classroom and the difference is night and day.  In an office you interact with a dozen adult personalities.  By contrast, most secondary school teachers interact with the dozen adult personalities and the 150 incomplete and unpredictable teenage personalities. Add that to a hostile and crowded classroom environment due to incompetent or vindictive administrators and unruly students and almost half the teachers feel high daily stress.  A high UFT official once told me that 25% of the teachers take anti-depressant or anxiety drugs to get them through the school day.

Even in good school districts 40% of the teachers leave before their fifth year and the quit rate is much higher in high poverty, minority school districts.  A study showed that the primary cause of high teacher turnover was student misbehavior and the failure of school administrators to support teachers.

Come Friday at many schools and you will see teachers lying down in the teacher's rooms complaining of headaches because of the accumulated stress throughout the week.  New York City Chancellor, Carmen Farina once told new teachers that they should stay away from the teacher rooms and the complaining veteran teachers.  However, for these complaining veteran teachers it is their coping mechanism that helps them deal with the accumulated stress.

How to help alleviate the stress? .First, find a low poverty or screened school where the students want to learn.  Second, make sure the school administration has a reputation for collaboration with teachers.  Finally, find a school with an experienced teaching staff where mentoring and peer role models will help newer teachers handle the everyday insults that go hand -in-hand with teaching in the New York City public schools.

If you cannot find a school that meets all three requirements then take up meditation, you will need it if you are to make a career out of teaching in the New York City public school system.

27 comments:

Anonymous said...

A co-worker was verbally attacked by administration yesterday. She said she could not continue the conversation and started to walk out of the room. She was told that she best not do that, because it "was a very bad idea".

She was so overwrought by the end of the day her son's school wouldn't release her child to her, because she was in no state to drive. Welcome to the DOE.

Anonymous said...

Yeah welcome to the DOE where even if you are in a school that Chaz describes in his last paragraph, some teachers within that school will still bitch and moan about how bad it is.

Anonymous said...

I bet she was verbally attacked by a female administrator. These women have to prove to themselves and everyone that they are tougher, meaner and more abusive than any man that has or will ever hold the position. As a human being with feelings I do not want to have a woman as a supervisor, they are the worst. I won't even consider working in a school with a female principal. Take a list of these abusive principals and compare the numbers, it's 10 to 1, female reptiles. People have to start personally sueing these animals. They're covered by the DOE for their abusive behavior up to a million dollars. Up it and record it. Fantasy football has nothing on these teams - the Nightmare League, C--ts vs. D--ks. C--ts win every time, even with our union.

Anonymous said...

The DOE is ideological, and it will never get better. All decisions are made from the top to the bottom, the recipes are not going to work.

Anonymous said...

My experience with admins, 8 so far in my 11 years in the DOE, is that all but one were horrible people. Mean, vindictive, unreasonable, unfair and just plain liars and dirty players. You might say, oh, there must be something wrong with you, that you can't get along with so many people. I'm friends with every teacher on the floor. What about those admins? Who do they pick these days, experienced educators? Read on...

I applied for the Leadership Academy myself, twice. I got into the second level of interviews both times. What I saw was sickening. At the group discussion table, where the 'trainers' watch us interact about some theoretical problem, it was the people who fought the meanest, loudest and with the least respect who got the praise and moved forward. All the ones I saw who got the 'right' answers, were largely inexperienced 'teachers' with 3-5 years in. That's it. One guy was a resource room 'teacher' for three years. No other experience. He later became a principal in the Bronx (though he has 'left' the DOE now and is in a charter school).

The idea in the Reformy movement is that rough-edged admins will 'fight' for change. No, all they do is create drama and cause fights. A well-thought, patient, contemplative leader is better. Oh, but we have to run our schools like cutthroat businesses now... Every day my kids are bad, but they like me and I can deal with them. My admins make you feel like they are looking for any excuse to fire you EVERY SINGLE DAY.

Anonymous said...

Years ago, in The Chief, I read about a teacher being harassed. He started recording meetings. When he was bought up on false charges, he had the proof!

Anonymous said...

Years ago, in The Chief, there was a teacher being harassed by administration. He started recording conversations. When admin brought him up on false charges, his lawyer read the transcript. Poof! Charges went away.

Anonymous said...

It is no secret the least successful teachers frequently transition to the administrative ranks in order to remain in our retirement system while escaping the classroom.

The very notion that there might be some sort of link between teacher morale and teacher productivity is wholly unexplored here in DOE. That, of course, is a basic leadership tenet of all other organizations (public and private) here in the USA.

Thus, incompetence is promoted and leadership qualities woefully lacking.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 10:37-

It was actually a male supervisor- and sadly, he's an amateur compared to the female admins.

Anonymous said...

I know of a Leadership Academy principal who was a dean for 3 years who then became a principal. That means he had NO TEACHING EXPERIENCE at all.

Anonymous said...

The poor quality of the abusive principals are destroying our schools, and the need to go in the other direction is not happening which means the quality of education of our students will diminish. The Chancellor should be held responsible for the failing policies, and the nonsense of the gotcha policy and toxic environents.

Anonymous said...

The problem is that you may have a good AP and/or Principal and then they leave and then the worst possible person takes over. If you have a lot of years, you are stuck. No one will hire you and you are unwanted. That has happened at a lot of schools.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this post. It is so true. On my way home yesterday I was so stressed, I don't even remember driving home. I went right to bed for like 4 hours because I could even talk to anyone. By the way, if anyone could recommend a good psychiatrist who takes GhI please post a name and number....

Anonymous said...

More conversation should take place regarding high stress levels, work environments and the personal health of employees. Our work should not make us sick.

bizarro said...

I retired early with an age penalty. Too much stress. Second, i wanted to leave before I did or said something stupid. Its like working in a twilight zone dystopia where the system makes it seem there is something wrong with you. Some can thrive in such an environment just as in totalitarian regimes. Those who are honest and have self respect will quit, retire early, or work under mental stress.

Anonymous said...

A good portion of the newer schools are built on or retrofitted from contaminated sites. The older buildings still have some asbestos and definitely have lead in the drinking water. Most haven't even been tested because the DOE is afraid of what will be found. One custodian told me the city had him run the water overnight before they came in the next day to test it. I don't know if it's true or if he was pulling my leg, but I believe it. Don't drink the water. Look at those ceilings and floors. Notice if several staff members in the same building are getting cancer, brain tumors, etc. DOE sends all the veteran ATRs to the known toxic schools. The UFT is clueless as usual. The DOE will save a fortune as they all drop dead either from the toxins or stress in trying to teach brain damaged students.

Anonymous said...

There are many teachers taking anti-anxiety meds these days.

Anonymous said...

3:41


You are right on the money. Powers that be want teachers to die early...or leave the profession early...no pension to pay...no benefits...city saves big time.

The stress is carefully planned for. It's a predetermined financial strategy.

Anonymous said...

That sounds like the David Pakter story. Google him.

Anonymous said...

I plan to take early retirement with the age penalty (55 years old). I will have less than 20 years in, but enough to get about $1200 per month. I can live on that with no debts and a paid off house.

If I waited just three years more I would get the 20 year pension and maybe $800 more per month, but life is too short and the DOE too evil. I literally feel like they want to fire me every day, even though I'm one of the top teachers in the school in terms of data and commitment.

Under the Danielson's tyranny, you are just NEVER GOOD ENOUGH for the small minded box circlers. That rubric is just awful. If they like you, they circle higher regardless of your lesson. If they don't like you, they circle lower, even if you hit every box. It's just so sad. And this 'surprise' observation stuff? Is that not the perfect way to promote PTSD or what? In what other profession do you get surprise ten minute pop-ins 4 times a year that determine your whole employment status?

chris sullivan said...

Chaz, can you really do a break down on the nation wide teacher shortage and NYC teacher shortage? Please ! You doing all numbers is always SPOT ON. I'd love to show other UFT memebers these numbers cause . I know next year and in 4 years we will be having a HUGE shortage coming . Thanks as always

Anonymous said...

Hey, 9:46.

Don’t just walk when you are 55.
Do you job the way you want once you hit 55. You said that you don’t mind the penalty, so you know you can walk at any time. I think the stress at that point will go down because you can always leave.

I know a teacher who had their time/age and stayed because they liked the kids and teaching. When their AP got very nasty, the teacher said FU, packed their stuff and walked.

I know other teachers who worked a few extra years because the freedom of not worrying made teaching fun, again.

Anonymous said...

We have to protest the random observation. This is what has to change!!!! We have always gotten observed and evaluated. Teachers are used to this. What we are not used to: the insane rubric and the unannounced observations and we get no feedback. the angle we need to take is that we do not get feedback in a timely fashion. These supervisors walk in when they want without having to discuss results. Right now, this rubric is being used as a weapon against teachers. We need this moronic useless union to articulate this problem. If we must have four, I want 3 out of the 4 to be announced and I want feedback. I want these admins to be busy justifying every single category. Also, I want a 5-6 scale rubric, not a 4 scale rubric.
Ex:
Master/Exemplary, Highly Effective, Experienced/Proficient, Basic/Competency, Needs Improvement/ Developing, Ineffective/unsatisfactory

More scheduled, less random -- more categories in rubric -- that is what I want, Mikey.

American Radio Design said...

Anonymous Anonymous said...
"I plan to take early retirement with the age penalty (55 years old). I will have less than 20 years in, but enough to get about $1200 per month. I can live on that with no debts and a paid off house."
You must stay the course and complete - at the least - 21 years. Don't cheat yourself from the significant difference between the amount that you will receive with less than 20 years and the amount that you will receive with 21 completed years.
STICK IT OUT!

Anonymous said...

FariƱa you are a big disappointwenty. There is no joy in the system because the same failed policies are in place.

retired teacher said...

to 7:00 - I taught for 35 years and can tell you that most of the observations I had in my career were unannounced. Often the principal or supervisor would tell you that they would be starting observations and would ask you when was the best time or what was your best class.

Often there was no post obs. One AP I know about actually sat and did the write up on his laptop while the teacher was still teaching. This character then went into his office and after about 5 minutes produced a post observation report without a conference. His only comment to the teacher was was that the observation was very good and not to worry!

Or there was the woman observed the day she returned after having surgery!

Anonymous said...

Random observations are nothing new but random observations with the Danielson Rubric .... that is a whole other story.