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Neglected Policies and Conditions Exacerbate Teacher Stress: The Impact on Wellbeing

According to teachers on Reddit, discussing the workload or student behavior that has caused some educators distress is considered taboo.

A new study reveals that working conditions and policies related to teacher welfare are being ignored, leading to increased frustration and workloads for educators tasked with balancing student education and their own wellbeing.

Teacher discussions on Reddit highlighted how approaches to wellbeing can intensify teacher stress, workload burdens, and suffering.

Saul Karnovsky, a teacher educator from Curtin’s School of Education, introduced the term “cruel wellbeing” to describe approaches that focus solely on positive thinking strategies for wellbeing without considering the harsh work conditions.

He emphasized the importance of acknowledging and collectively addressing the real challenges teachers face, which involves addressing physical, social, mental, and emotional aspects of teacher wellbeing.

The study, titled “How teacher wellbeing can be cruel: Refusing discourses of wellbeing in an online Reddit forum,” analyzed conversations on Reddit where teachers openly shared their experiences and challenges.

Ignoring Teacher Wellbeing and Turnover

Policies that neglect how work impacts teachers can lead to decreased job satisfaction and a desire to leave the profession, as indicated by the study authors.

According to The Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership (AITSL) data, 5% of teachers plan to quit within a year, with 35% intending to leave before retirement, highlighting workload, coping, recognition, award, and classroom issues as key reasons for wanting to leave.

The study warns that workplace wellbeing strategies often prioritize organizational needs and typical political and social norms rather than addressing genuine concerns raised by teachers.

Discussions on Reddit show that teachers often face issues such as overwork and lack of attention from school leaders and policymakers, which can contribute to stress and frustration among educators.

It is crucial to include the perspectives of school leaders in discussions about teacher wellbeing, as the programs they implement may be attempts to address complex issues with limited resources.

Recent initiatives aim to improve teacher inductions, address toxic positivity, and provide leadership support to enhance teacher wellbeing and retention in the profession.

Promoting positive teacher wellbeing through ongoing support, feedback, and involvement in decision-making processes can benefit both teachers and students in the long run.

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