Just how stressful is teaching as a profession?

Like any other job, we all experience stress at work, but for teachers, stress seems harder to shake off.  The admiration for the profession has been on a decline according to the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL) general secretary Mary Bousted. According to an article written by The Daily Mail, Mary Bousted  stated at a union conference in Liverpool, UK that the increase in workload and governmental interference on education has made teaching an unappealing profession for those who thought of pursuing it. She added that around 40% of newly qualified teachers end up quitting after a year in the classroom due to exhaustion and stressed colleagues. On top of that, nearly 30% – 40 % of teachers leave their profession in their first 5 years according to Mark Greenberg, a professor of psychology at Penn State.  The question is, how much of next generations’ teachers could we be losing out on?

Sir Cary Cooper, professor of organisational psychology and health at the University of Manchester’s business school and a former government adviser on well-being, stated that the profession is regularly ranked among the most stressful jobs along with other high-stress professions that include healthcare and the uniformed services such as the police, ambulance and the fire services.

On institutional standards, there has been an increased reliance on adjunct teaching faculty. Some institutions use a new tactic to cut costs is to hire temporary faculty to teach courses. Rather than paying a professor the full yearly salary plus benefits, universities can now hire a no-benefits PhD holder at $3,000-$4,500 per 3 credit hour class for a semester instead. I can also imagine how tenure-track faculty can actually be threatened by their supervisors with being replaced by such adjunct faculty if they can’t manage grant funding.

On a sub-similar note, teaching a 3-credit hour class may appear little. However, developing up-to-date course outlines, course content, holding office hours, sitting on countless committee meetings, and let’s not forget the grading, exams, seminars, professional developments and research if can yield a highly exhausting workload.. So, it’s pretty easy to get to 30-40 hours/week with just two classes.

Ending with a good note…

I myself had some rough patches when I started teaching, but surely there are ways to deal with stress at times when we need to. You take joy in your student’s achievements than yours. You learn a lot about students and a lot about yourself too. Managing teaching loads is one of the greatest challenges in the job. However, the perks that come with the job can lead to the self-fulfilment you’ve been searching for. Most importantly appreciate the joy of teaching and learning and we owe it to ourselves. Yes teaching can be stressful and managing it can be a life-long task, but we must seek balance in our lives, and not get carried out with the overwhelming job, but we can always find the awesome role we’re playing in many people’s lives and we must remember to celebrate these high points as points of achievements!


  1. https://www.tes.com/news/school-news/breaking-news/teaching-among-top-three-most-stressed-occupations
  1. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3020255/Four-10-new-teachers-don-t-YEAR-classroom-exhausted-stressed-colleagues-says-union-boss.html


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