Teaching is a stressful job at the best of times, what with monitoring the safety of their pupils and managing their behaviour, combined with increasing pressure to increase grades and performance. But when pupils aren’t behaving, workloads are building and results aren’t being achieved, stress can begin to take its toll. In an environment like a school with so many young people influenced by their mentors, and with teachers at the very centre of the spotlight, and at risk of scrutiny, stress is often buried away and held back from peers to prevent judgement.
Among stresses of the classroom and the workload of teaching, personal finances may begin to take an impact and it can affect not just the individual, but also their family. High pressured jobs can leave the strongest minds feeling stressed, but when financial strain is another thing to add to the list, the pressure can mount and health and wellbeing can suffer.
Teachers need to remain on the ball and in control, but if their mind is elsewhere, this will affect their ability to teach to their full potential
Becoming aware of the possible signs of financial stress in other people enables you to spot anyone who may be under particular strain, and signpost them to the appropriate help before the situation escalates. Struggling with money is something people often feel ashamed of and they may try and hide it from those around them. Not facing up to the problem can have huge ramifications, especially when in a position of educating children. With the safety of your pupils paramount, teachers need to remain on the ball and in control, but if their mind is elsewhere on things like poor finances, this will inevitably affect their ability to teach to their full potential.
Things to look out for include:
Reluctance to spend
Of course, when suffering with a financial burden, spending money becomes the last priority especially when what is being purchased isn’t a necessity. Avoiding staff drinks and meals regularly may be a tell-tale sign, not donating to fundraisers at school or contributing to the prizes. You may also notice a refusal or regular excuses not to attend school trips due to the lack of disposable income.
A change in personality
When people are particularly stressed they often exhibit personality traits outside of the norm. They may start to snap regularly or become uncharacteristically aggressive, or they may become quiet and withdrawn. Usually well-organised people may start to regularly forget things. In a school environment, a change in personality can be obvious and it will be noticed by students, but personality is key in being a good teacher, so as soon as this becomes an issue, it is worth flagging up.
With a wandering mind swamped with personal stress and problems, keeping control of students that misbehave may become difficult. Rather than dealing with a behavioural issue with a calm and collective mind, it may be all too easy for this to become the outlet or opportunity to release pent up stress and aggression, this is not only dangerous to a classroom, but also a school and to the teacher in question. Though as soon as this weakness is spotted by other pupils, this may be fuel for them to misbehave and attempt to provoke a similar reaction.
Lack of sleep
We all have sleepless nights when we are stressed, but those under financial pressure may have trouble sleeping for a prolonged period. Arriving late for work, looking tired and run down can all be indicators of a lack of sleep, and a lot of the time, a lack of sleep can be brought on by increased stress.
While any of the above are not automatically an indicator of a person suffering from financial stress, they can act as a good warning that something is wrong. If you do suspect a member of your staff is struggling with debt, then try to talk to them. It’s important for anyone in debt to face up to the situation and to seek advice from a professional.