Is teaching rewarding or stressful?

When teachers doubt their suitability

When pedagogues doubt that they can meet the demands of a good teacher, this often leads to a deep crisis. To be in school service after the state examination until retirement may be a comforting idea for some, but the reality calls for more flexibility. Because at the latest when dissatisfaction, frustration and doubt become a constant companion, alternatives are in demand.

"Just" being a teacher and concentrating on your own lessons is simply no longer enough. The interest in working with children and young people, in imparting knowledge and skills and in performing a meaningful job is an important aspect, but there are many different roles to be taken on and mastered in everyday school life: as a teacher, as a role model, as a Mediator, as a person. Even those who deal with this circumstance in a reflective and prepared way can at some point discover that they have lost their joy and motivation or that the challenging variety of roles is simply not good for them.

This professional and personal crisis of meaning largely affects teachers who are still in the early career phase: Full of motivation and sometimes exaggeratedly high demands on themselves, they lose their bearings in the turbulent everyday school life, and sometimes they feel hopeless Overwhelmed. "How am I supposed to do all of this?", "My colleagues do this much better than I do" or "I feel weak and helpless towards the students" are typical thoughts and feelings that reveal deep insecurity.

Thoughts of saying goodbye to teaching are mostly cherished in the transition to career entry, write Birgit Nieskens and Albina Lobell in the guide "Personal crises in the teaching profession: recognize, overcome, prevent" and refer to a study of Swiss primary school teachers, according to which 80 percent of the There were exits in the first ten years of employment. "I had fought for so long to become a teacher, now I was no longer sure whether it was the right profession," describes a young secondary school teacher in the book her conflict, which also brought physical warning signals such as constant migraines with it and expressed herself in the fact that she went to school more and more reluctantly.

The question of professional suitability is legitimate in the face of social and thus also school change and should be taken seriously - at any point in the professional career. It is completely natural and to a certain extent even healthy and helpful to face them from time to time and to check your own motivation, resources and professional goals. But if health suffers from persistent negative thoughts and feelings, then this also affects professional performance and a vicious circle develops. In the worst case, stress, frustration and self-doubt lead to internal and external withdrawal. Then it is important to bear in mind unrealistic requirements in order to distinguish which stress aspects come from outside and which perhaps has more to do with your own (perfectionist) attitude. Because that is where the respective solution approaches are located.

Examples of excessive external requirements and the associated lack of resources:

  • too many tasks, especially for young professionals; unclear responsibilities; no representation concepts; hardly any teamwork; lack of collegial support

Examples of excessive internal requirements and the associated lack of resources:   

  • too many tasks, especially for young professionals; unclear responsibilities; no representation concepts; hardly any teamwork; lack of collegial support

Corresponding solutions can only be found if a generally perceived dissatisfaction and excessive demands are replaced by specific difficulties. More retreat areas in the school, an improved organizational structure or stress management for teachers can be helpful steps. Such measures always depend on an attentive, critical school management who recognizes the need for action, tackles problems and campaigns for a culture of togetherness and appreciation at the school.

So if grievances and individual problems can be discussed openly within the teaching staff and there is a constructive exchange that goes beyond curricula and lesson content, then that is worth its weight in gold. Experienced colleagues can then, for example, give younger teachers valuable feedback, thereby making it easier for them to cope with the difficult situation and encouraging them to stick to the teaching profession. Or encourage them to take a new path that is more suitable for them.

When teachers make the decision to change jobs, a detailed inventory must be made in order to pave the way in a new direction. Anyone who knows exactly where there are problems in everyday school life and knows their particular strengths and competencies can use this knowledge for a successful reorientation. In addition to a school-related activity in the education industry, another degree may also be an option. A sabbatical year can be a good intermediate step for anyone who is still lacking clarity and, above all, a little distance. As in every phase of upheaval, the exchange with others plays an important role: Discussing with colleagues, family and friends, accepting advice offers or hearing positive testimonials from other "switchers" can give strength and confidence.

1. Recognize strengths

What are you good at? Have you recently considered what your strengths are? Every teacher needs knowledge of their strengths. In contact with the students, we do not score with standardized performance, but with our personal strengths. Use your students as the first source of information. Ask them what they value most about you. For a more in-depth look at your strengths, you need colleagues who watch you teach on your behalf.

2. Strip off set targets

When two of your ideals or goals conflict with each other - such as B. promote the independence of the students and create calm in the class - then it is worthwhile to take a closer look. Which destination brings you joy? Which goal entails only effort? Only the goals that you really achieve warrant a special effort. All the power that you put to "fake" goals drains you in the long run.

3. Accept deficits

Deficits are okay - are they really? With us teachers, who we are constantly examined? Let's stop the whining and face reality: Deficits are okay because children and young people should learn from adults how to deal with weaknesses. But they can only do this from adults who talk about their efforts, failures and inability. In addition, students have to learn that they cannot talk to every teacher about every topic. Being able to adjust to the right distance is an important social skill. Deficits are also okay because your strengths are much more important.

4. Enjoy support

We shouldn't dream of a cooperative environment, but actually create it: It starts with the provision of our own documents or the development of a collection of teaching materials. More substantial is the willingness to take on workloads from others if the worst comes to the worst. The more consistently you support your colleagues, the more likely you will be able to count on support.

5. Five Commandments of Contentment

Satisfaction has a decisive influence on the individual state of health. Satisfied people are more likely to succeed. But how do you fight against dissatisfaction with yourself, the lessons, the school administration, etc.? Regardless of their teaching style and goals, what makes a good teacher is that he continues to develop his work according to these guiding principles:

  • Form yourself where you need it.
  • Avoid situations where you do badly.
  • Do whatever interests you in class.
  • Do what you are good at especially often.
  • Think about what you really want and need to move.

Self and time management for teachers
Every teacher takes on different tasks in everyday life - often with commitment and full of energy. Sometimes, however, everything grows over your head. Then the professional plans and specifications cause stress and the personal wishes are left behind.
In this training you will learn how to deal professionally with a large number of tasks and time pressure.