Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Guru wajib lawan burn out

The stress of teaching is often blamed on rowdy students and unrealistic expectations from school officials. But new research suggests that parents may be the real culprit in teacher burnout. The study, published this month in the psychology journal Anxiety, Stress, & Coping, surveyed 118 German schoolteachers who had been teaching for an average of 20 years. The questionnaires were designed to assess personality traits like perfectionism. They also measured the teachers’ level of burnout and their reactions to pressure from colleagues, students and parents. Although “burnout” is complex and different for every teacher, it’s usually defined as occurring when a teacher feels emotionally exhausted at the end of the day, appears cynical or uncaring about what happens to students and feels as if he or she has reached few personal goals. Although perfectionism is often linked with job stress, teachers with perfectionist tendencies in this survey weren’t more likely to have burnout. But teachers who felt pressure to be perfect or experienced criticism for being imperfect were more likely to have burnout. Notably, the highest pressure to be perfect didn’t come from students or colleagues but from parents. While the data come from German schools, the researchers note that many of the demands of teaching, including disruptive students, high expectations from school officials and close scrutiny from parents, are universal. The issue of teacher burnout is important because American schools today are experiencing high levels of teacher turnover as baby boomers retire and new teachers leave the field. According to the most recent Department of Education statistics available, about 269,000 of the nation’s 3.2 million public school teachers, or 8.4 percent, quit the field in the 2003-2004 school year. Thirty percent of them retired, and 56 percent said they left to pursue another career or because they were dissatisfied. The National Commission on Teaching and America’s Future has calculated that nearly a third of all new teachers leave the profession after just three years, and that after five years almost half are gone. To be sure, many issues play a role in teacher burnout and turnover. Dwindling school resources, low pay and high expectations for test scores from school districts are just some of the challenges teachers face. But the data from the German study also show that parents can have a big impact on a teacher’s happiness and stress, said study coauthor Joachim Stoeber, senior lecturer in psychology at the University of Kent in Britain. Said Dr. Stoeber, “Teachers should focus on their students’ expectations and needs and get support from colleagues if they feel overwhelmed, but not try to make overly demanding parents happy.’’

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