MAY 17, 2006

Can't handle the stress?  Stay out of the classroom

       Recently it was announced that a school division in Canada is offering teachers a year off with pay as a way to ďde-stressĒ from having a hectic and busy career.
       The argument is made that a teacherís work doesnít end when classes do for students. Itís suggested that there are tireless hours spent marking assignments, preparing lessons for upcoming classes and supervising other school activities.
       So even with two months off in the summer, two weeks off for Christmas and a week off for spring break, itís still believed that there is more time needed to unwind. Not to discredit the hard work of teaching staff, but has anybody thought of the stress that students also go through?
       Students have to face the pressures of keeping up with assignments for multiple classes, studying for exams and remembering deadlines and details about projects throughout the same period of time as teachers do.
       Thereís a difference between marking a few dozen papers and actually having to put the thought into writing them. For the student, the information has to be retrieved and composed into a paper that needs to be graded. As a student you can almost freak out hoping that you are going to impress the teacher enough with the paper youíve put together. Youíve had to edit it, reread it, check the dictionary a dozen times and still wonít rest easy as the deadline approaches.
       Generally, for the teacher, there are already right and wrong answers to the assignments; itís just a matter of going through and grading them. There isnít much creative thought that goes into that process.
       I know from when I was in post-secondary school, I was juggling seven or eight courses at once and had no social life whatsoever. Full-time students have very little time to be social with friends during the school year. Students can ultimately become hermits during the weekend. The same canít be said for teachers. Iíve often heard many students (myself included) say, ďI canít do anything this weekend, Iíve got to study." I know several teachers and Iíve never heard a teacher say they canít do anything because they have to stay home all weekend and work.
       Many times itís the teachers who volunteer to coach teams or be a part of extracurricular activities. The argument that a teacherís day doesnít end when the school bell dismisses students is essentially the choice of each individual teacher. And when you arenít working a full eight-hour day and have an hour for lunch and a couple breaks throughout the day, is a full year really needed to ďde-stressĒ? What about people who work 12-hour days back to back? It may be hard on those people but itís a career they chose and donít feel the need to demand a year off.
       Furthermore, students are constantly told by teachers not to stress out and get too worked up about the pressures of being a student. Why donít teachers have to follow the same advice?
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