Tag Archives: educator

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: alyshakaye@gmail.com

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The “Tripod” of the Public Education System

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Happy Teacher Appreciation Week 🙂 Thank a teacher who supported you!

Now on to a less happy topic…

There’s this lovely “tripod” that’s supposed to be a thing in the teaching field: the students, the parents, and the teachers/administration. I remember sitting in grad school, listening to this tripod explanation, and thinking Yup, I got it, that makes sense, if we all just work together, we’ll have the perfect system!

I was teaching 7th grade English at the time, in Aiea, Hawaii, and I was struggling. The added stress of my masters program, my Teach For America responsibilities, and the craziness of uprooting from Texas was definitely weighing on me. I kept thinking Well, my end of the tripod is steady, for sure. I figured my kids’ third of the creation was probably sturdy as well. So I mostly blamed parents. Why don’t they check grades online? Why don’t they check their kids’ backpacks, planners, folders? Why don’t they show up to meetings or buy their kids supplies or make their kids read at night? Why aren’t they like MY parents, or like ME? It’s easy to blame.

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But as the years went on, and I moved back to Texas, I realized a much bigger problem: WHY is the teacher end of the tripod combined with admin? Shouldn’t they be on their own, a fourth leg? There’s a disconnect between educators and their bosses–a gap that’s growing and growing. To casually throw a backslash in between teachers and admin is ridiculous. Teachers/admin. As if we’re the same, as if we have the same job, make the same salary, deal with the same daily ups and downs…HA!

I’ve tried hopelessly to get to the bottom of why this disconnect exists and how it started. The only conclusion that really makes sense is lack of respect. We don’t feel trusted by our principals or assistant principals or curriculum specialists or whoever we’re “reporting to” on any given day…and I don’t think they feel trusted by us either. Respect, open communication, team building…all of those buzzwords that are major duhs in well-run companies are merely pipe dreams in the public education system.

We are told that it’s our fault if kids fail–by people who, five years ago, were (shockingly) teachers themselves, dealing with failure rates themselves. It’s kind of insane.

We ask for behavior help, classroom resources, parent or community relationship assistance–until eventually we stop asking. Because that’s usually what people do after so long of asking and not receiving–they stop asking entirely.

We fill out all the required busy work and attend all the unhelpful, mandatory trainings and simultaneously sew our lips together.

I’m only in my fourth year of teaching and I’m guilty of this. I start off the year strong, passionate. I begin fizzling and fading fast. So much time and effort…for what seems like nothing most of the time. I care about my students as if they are my own flesh and blood–I pour my heart into this job–and the “tripod” still topples. Every year.

Admin seem to blame teachers, teachers blame parents and admin, students blame no one because usually they don’t even see the real problem…

I think it’s pretty clear that this “tripod” is wobbly on EVERY end. There’s no 100% strong, healthy leg of the public education system. It’s not one group’s fault. I don’t even think one group is a little more to blame than another. Everyone knows we have a flawed system. Large strides are needed–from everyone.

But I do think that the first step in solving this massive nationwide issue is to close that disconnect between teachers and admin, so that maybe we CAN one day be teachers/admin.

I mean, if we can’t receive the support that we deserve from our superiors…how are we supposed to function effectively in the trickle-down of disrespect?