Feeling very strongly about the direction of education in Australia, particularly Queensland, she wrote an open letter to a major newspaper and shared this same letter on Facebook. 

In this letter she expressed her feeling that our education system is in crisis. She maintained that, in her experience, there had never been a time where there had been so much pressure on teachers and so many of her colleagues stressed.  

This letter received an enormous positive response, with many comments of support and agreement by fellow teachers.

When contacted for comment for this article Margolis said that she had not yet seen any real change in Queensland, but thought that many more people were joining the conversation; perhaps paving the way for future action.  

According to a 2015 Australian Teachers Union report, 73 per cent of teachers surveyed felt their workload had significantly increased in the past year. 

Many classroom teachers reported they were considering leaving the profession, citing the increased workload and feelings of stress. 

In a similar study reported in a UK psychology journal, up to 80 per cent of teachers reported that they often had feelings of severe stress and 76 per cent indicated that they thought the stress placed on them by workplace pressures and demands was making them ill. 

In 2013 Monash University surveyed over 600 newly qualified teachers (in the first five years of their career), and found more than a quarter reported feeling emotionally exhausted.

At the same time as we are experiencing high levels of reported teacher stress and many teachers considering leaving the profession, the world is facing a teacher shortage.

A 2015 UNESCO report claimed that, if current trends continue, there will be 33 countries across the world unable to provide access to basic education for all school-aged children by 2030.

In 2015 the world required 2.7 million more teachers in order to provide all children with basic education. 

By 2030 this figure, based on current trends, will have risen to 25.8 million more teachers required. 

Given these projections it is apparent that we must prioritise the wellbeing of our current teachers and provide working conditions that make teaching more attractive to potential new recruits.

What is stress?

Stress is a normal and natural reaction to adversity or to unfamiliar or threatening situations.  It is primarily a physical response to a perceived threat. 

Stress is not always avoidable, in fact some stress is beneficial, providing enhanced motivation and a boost to energy levels when required. 

In times past, stress was integral to our survival as it would trigger the ‘fight or flight’ response, producing surges of adrenaline and cortisol. 

This type of stress reaction is categorised as acute stress.  Chronic stress, on the other hand occurs when this feeling of stress continues, unabated over time. 

Left untreated, chronic stress can have a detrimental effect on one’s health and wellbeing. 

Stress is a highly individual reaction, dependent on one’s background, temperament and the particular environment at the time. 

It is sometimes categorised in terms of a cause of illness and at other times as an effect or as a response to a particular situation, making it difficult to define and assess. 

However, most definitions of modern workplace stress define it in terms of a discomforting personal experience caused by workplace demands or pressures that have a negative impact on an individual’s ability to cope.

Stress and stress management can be likened to a bridge - a good bridge easily carries the load for which it was designed, withstanding the odd oversized vehicle and the occasional busy times. 

However, too heavy a load on a daily basis, cracks may begin to appear and if not reduced can begin to compromise the integrity of the bridge. 

There is a danger of total collapse if steps are not taken to add some support structures or decrease the volume of traffic.

 

Read part two of this series on teacher stress: Many factors contribute to teacher stress