Teachers Stress and Sacrifice

Natalie Lindmark, reporter

The chatter among the halls year on year express the stress students feel that they’re under, but have the students ever stopped to wonder about teachers and the stress they’re put under and the sacrifices they make? With every job students have, teachers have three jobs surrounding that job. The main focus and stress not only relies on the work, but also focusing on students needs and bonding with their students. More teachers have expressed that it’s not only about being stressed about school work, but having a relationship with their students and balancing school with their family and outside life. Math teacher Jan Berghaus and English teacher Paige Mulvihill express their stresses as it comes to teaching high school students.

When it comes down to it, the hardest part of being a teacher seems to be not the stress of work, but the stress of caring for the students and their well being and success.

“The hardest part is building relationships with your students, because you don’t really get to hear their heart or they’re ideas so much as how they process numbers and variables, so you have to work harder to build relationships,”  Berghaus said.

“In math, there’s not much middleground, and our job is to bring the middleground,”Berghaus said. “Along with students not being able to do it is them feeling like they can’t do it, so helping them figure out that they can, is another big part of my job,”

Helping students thrive in math is a full time job, especially for Berghaus, who not only teaches Algebra, but also Math Strategies, a class to help kids who may need extra help with math.

“I think for me [the hard part] is the constant decisions you have to make. You make momentary decisions, you make short terms decisions and decisions for later in the week and the month and the year,” Mulvihill said.

The hope is that all decisions will work out in her and her students favors to help them prosper.  The struggles do not stop there.

“Grading is also a big part. Wanting to give kids feedback and then think are they understanding and reading this feedback. Sacrificing time with my husband and family and friends [to grade] and being able to give you guys all the time you deserve while at the same time still being able to live [her life]”.

The stress students are under as it relates to outside of school is balancing school with extra activities and the social aspect, but teachers also have busy lives including their family and for some, kids.

“A lot of our outside activities still involve kids, our students, and I think the biggest thing I had to work at was balancing my own personal childrens’ activities and needs along with what I need to do for school,” Berghaus said.

Aside from the social and family aspect, there’s also work

“Whenever we give homework, we get homework [having to work at home creating, choosing and grading the material] there’s a lot of outside prep and work involved with being a teacher,” Berghaus said.

Approaching the end of the semester, the common feeling is this is one of most stressful times of the year, but what effect does it have on teachers?

“Two things [are] at play here,” Berghaus said. “We have to get through the material we have to get through, and the second part is as our students finish, they are approaching that finish line and we are leaning in and cheering harder and worried because we want them to be successful, so we start working extra hard to help them get there and help them achieve what they want to achieve.”

It is just as easy to get wrapped up in high school, as it is easy to let the stress overcome students. But don’t forget, teachers are just as stressed about wanting students to succeed as the students are about wanting to succeed, and the sacrifices they are willing to make and the miles they are willing to go speaks great character about the staff of BV West.

“For teachers, we have been through this before, so we can manage it and it’s a different stress. As for kids, they’re worried about their future,” Mulvihill said. “Our day to day job does not directly impact the next step of our life [like theirs does]. For teachers, I think the stress is ‘are we doing a good job’ and it’s more philosophical stress.”  

“We have a normal life just like anybody else. When bad things happen to us or hard things happen to us, we have to use a lot of extra to serve you,” said Berghaus. “The majority of teachers are capable at setting aside themselves for the needs of their students, but no doubt there are times where we only have X amount to give, and we all struggle with that, but it can help us relate to our students. If we didn’t struggle and it wasn’t hard for us, then we wouldn’t relate to you and everything you go through.”

“It builds compassion.” said Berghaus.