Admin Affecting Teacher Mental Health


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I’m getting a PhD, which yeah, is cool. But my writing time is pretty filled with research papers and Blackboard threads (ugh, Blackboard, I’d forgotten how much I despise you) instead of blogging or working on the second novel…

Becoming a professor was always the end goal though. I found a super old Word doc the other day titled “Life Goals” (way to be discreet, young Alysha) and at the top, starred and bolded, it read: “As long as you accomplish three of these, you’re good!” Ha! So three life goals, that’s all I need to be fulfilled. Going off of that list, I’ve actually already reached fulfillment. Getting my PhD, traveling the world, and publish a novel. Done!

I’m finally teaching at a school where I feel respected. My AP is an amazing woman who never belittles teachers in any way. My dissertation is going to focus on administrator behavior and how it affects teacher mental health and my new school is a shining example of how things SHOULD be in public education. Are there still kinks? Of course. There always will be in a K-12 setting. But it’s great to be in an environment where admin trust teachers to help with the kinks instead of an environment that simply blames teachers for the kinks.

Everyone is pretty weird about openly discussing anxiety and depression, but I hope to be able to break those barriers. Maybe one day soon I’ll post something more in-depth about my own personal struggles, but for now, I wanted to post about my dissertation topic. Teacher mental health is so damn important! Why is this not talked about more? More specifically, why isn’t it common practice for administrators to be trained on how they affect teacher mental health?

When I started this program, there were so many topics floating around my mind—topics I’d love to study. But the one issue that continued to pick at me was teacher mental health—and how administrators can make or break your entire experience as an educator.

I had an absolutely awful experience at my last school. I was bullied and demeaned until I finally applied elsewhere. It was traumatizing. The sad part is, I’m not alone. Countless teachers are treated this way, or worse.

Now that I’m in a completely different environment, I’m having to remind myself that I AM a good teacher and a good person. I’m still getting over the terrible way I was treated at my old district. My coworker joked that I have PTSD, but it really does feel like that at times.

Teachers should never feel scared to go to their administrators, ask for help, or work with them toward a common goal. In these times especially, people should be uniting and working together toward a brighter future, not tearing each other down. I know one dissertation can’t change the total atmosphere of administrator-teacher relations, but maybe one dissertation will lead to another and another and another…until something does change?

P.S. I reached 3,000 followers today! Hollaaaa! Super cool. If you haven’t read The Waiting Room, I’m sending out free e-copies to willing reviewers 🙂 shoot me an email if interested:

6 responses »

  1. Um, you’re writing a second novel? YES. You gooo! I can’t wait to read it! And, I’d love to read about your struggles with anxiety and depression. I don’t why it’s so scary to share about it. Not even just for teachers but people in general. It’s like when you tell someone, they either want to fix you (like medicine. Which I know some people need) or nothing. Not everyone is like that. I think my biggest thing I’ve experienced is shame. It helps having someone who will listen and walk with you. Just loves you through it.

  2. Hiya and thanks for dropping by my place. I like your piece! I was a poet before I was an accredited Life Coach and a poet and narrator before I became a “Teacher of English” on November 22nd. Yes this year.

    Some of the things they taught me flew right in the face of what I know differently as a Life Coach. When I hit the part about putting a Coach in the classroom to observe your teaching performance, I laughed my ass off. A confirmation laugh that I was correct in my assertion and the University was incorrect. Nah not incorrect, flat out wrong.

    I’ll shoot you the email for your book.

    My piece that your read, “My New Year Eve, 2017” has the adventures of becoming a teacher chronicled.

    When they started talking about suppression as a way to cope with exam anxiety, no, no, NO!

  3. I totally agree with you, Ms Alysha Kaye. Your thoughts about mental health for educators is often overlooked. The mental well being of educators is important and should be of high priority.

    My thirty-four career in Texas public schools, included teaching experience, and administrative duties through the district-level curriculum department. I also taught at the college level preparing students to be teachers. My experience included demanding and egotistical administrators. Oftentimes I felt self-doubt, uncertainty, and anxiety.

    A true leader is one who cares, listens objectively, offers support, models current research based best practices, and provides the tools to be an outstanding teacher. This equals student success.

    I am thankful that I continue to share the love of literacy and learning with students at the college level since moving to Illinois. I even enjoy sharing after school and summer school lessons with elementary students in our community. Reading, writing, and creating is what I do most days.

    All the best to you as you continue to touch the lives of young minds in your 9th grade English class. The students are fortunate to have you as an educator. Best wishes with your dissertation.

    ~Sue Leopold

  4. I can agree that the administration often hurts teachers so much. I like to think that my school district is one of the most dysfunctional in the US, and I learned that only from being in it for 4 years. As a senior in high school, I am close to many of my teachers, and it hurts seeing my favorite teachers stressed out because of the administration. It’s even hurting my senior year because teachers are leaving the district entirely, meaning at the end of next month I will have my 3rd teacher shift this year. Then once that teacher leaves fully, I will have my fourth of the year in February.

    I just hope that you all teachers don’t let the principals or the Boards of Education get to you and only keep doing your job. In the end, you have the option to leave, but the students usually don’t. We’re unfortunately the ones left to suffer as the games are played.

    I am glad to know that your new school is better, and I hope that some of the schools in my district will also improve once I’m gone.

  5. I am a teacher and am very open about my mood disorder. Yes, you get the few who believe that you shouldn’t be an educator if you have a mental illness but the stigma is indeed receding. My blog explores teaching with a mental illness.

    I love your post!

  6. The cartoons are so funny, in that awful way hard truths are best revealed in humor kind of way. I imagine that this situation of teachers and administrators is far more the norm than we can imagine. Excellent essay. Thank you.

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