My photograph of acid yellow euphorbia dotted through with forget-me-nots, from the garden.
HELLO TEACHER! THE NEW ACADEMIC YEAR'S STARTING
Please Take Care of Yourself and See the Following Sections for Information and Advice
General Health & Mental Well-Being
Basic Self-Care & Vaccinations
Stress, Recognising & Managing It
Boost Your Immune System, Mind & Body
Managing Your Time
Managing Classroom Behaviour
Young Student Monitors
When Everyone Needs Calming Down!
Four Practical Ways to Cope with Stresses of Modern Life
Please read the new opening Section on planning to be ready for the new term to begin, and
see the extra information on boosting your immunity and ideas for keeping fit, physically and mentally, and able to fight infection and stress.
See the enhanced Section 'BOOST YOUR IMMUNE SYSTEM & CARE FOR YOUR MIND & BODY'.
See the new Section, 'Four Practical Ways to Cope with Stresses of Modern Life' at the end of this Article.
Iseult Catherine O'Brien
Teacher & Supervisor | Volunteer Tutor with Second Level Students |
Online Thesis Specialist
PLAN TO BE READY FROM THE FIRST
HERE ARE SOME SUGGESTIONS TO HELP YOU
PREPARE FOR THE NEW TERM
FIVE WAYS TO HAVE A STRESS-FREE MORNING
the Night Before
Prepare what you can the night before, says Dr Hazel Wallace, the author of The Food Medic - from your packed lunch to laying out your clothes. Do what you can the night before, avoid gadgets – and don’t hit the snooze button. Vicky Silverthorn, a professional organiser, suggests leaving necessary items by the front door, or using sticky notes as reminders.
Checking the weather forecast, keeping your calendar up to date and taking care of any time-intensive grooming routines the night before will also help you feel more prepared.
Don’t Hit Snooze
Dr Matthew Walker, a professor of neuroscience at the University of California, Berkeley, advises against hitting the snooze button,
as it disrupts uninterrupted, quality sleep; instead he suggests setting your alarm for when you actually need to wake up.
The Sleep Council, which promotes healthy sleep habits, warns
that your body experiences a spike in cortisol very time your alarm goes off. If you struggle not to press the button, leave the alarm across the room, so you have to walk over to silence it. You could
also try one that eases you awake with light or vibrations.
Get Breakfast Ready
Hazel Wallace makes overnight oats most evenings and takes them with her to work the
next day. Silverthorn says it is useful to have systems in place, such as checklists or a tea and coffee station in the kitchen, but she
warns against anything complicated, as it has less chance of sticking long term.
If your children are old enough to make their own breakfast, leave bowls and food within their reach, to encourage independence. “The kitchen is the hub of the home. If that’s in the right
place, as it were, then everything runs more smoothly,” she says.
Vicky Silverthorn advocates getting into a routine of placing your keys and other essential items
in the same place each time you get in, be it on a hook or in a tray or a drawer: “Have a home for everything.”
Decluttering your home can also lead to a more streamlined routine. “The less you have, the easier it is to be in charge of your home, rather than it being in charge of you.”
Take a Few Minutes
Many of us make the mistake of reaching for our phones first thing. Instead, Silverthorn encourages starting the day with at least five minutes away from gadgets, perhaps spent making
a cup of tea and sitting down to drink it in peace.
“That is vital for me every morning. It’s five minutes
to get your head together. You can say it’s hard, but five minutes is doable.”
[If you have a garden or a balcony, spend your five minutes in a Mindful way, with your cup of tea or coffee, just noticing what's blooming, going over, or thinking of flowering. Five
minutes can be a long time if spent in a Mindful way. If it's raining, go to the window that gives you the best views, and just soak in the vista of trees, nearby gardens or parks, and Nature in her glory. The green of Nature is calming to the mind and a great start to the day. ICOB]
The daily commute can also be made less stressful with a few tweaks, says Wallace. Check for delays, leave in plenty of time, wear comfortable shoes and have a book or a podcast
ready for your journey.
Amy Sedghi, The Guardian
[I have added text, colour, headlines, and emphasis to the above, ICOB.]
CARE FOR YOUR GENERAL HEALTH
AND MENTAL WELL-BEING
As a teacher, you have to look after
yourself, and especially your health, both physical and mental. Always avoid lifting or shifting heavy furniture, or any other such items. That is someone else’s job. Find out who that person is as soon as possible at the beginning of the school year, and introduce yourself to him or her.
A teacher CANNOT have a bad back!
COLDS and infections are inevitable ~ you shall be picking up all the new common cold viruses, all year, as brought to school by the students and other
staff. Make sure you eat a diet rich in fruit and vegetables, drink lots of water ~ two to three litres minimum daily, including especially foods that boost your immune system (see Section below).
DEHYDRATION can slow mucus production,
which makes it harder to clear viruses. This happens more in Summer and also in hot, airless, classrooms in the colder months. Sip plenty of water throughout the day. Check
with the School Rules to ascertain if your students are allowed to drink water from unspillable bottles or cups during class.
WASH your hands regularly and properly. Most colds are passed on when you touch the hand of an infected person, or a surface contaminated with the cold virus, and
then touch your eyes or nose, transmitting the infection to yourself. Therefore, if you wash your hands regularly and thoroughly throughout the day, you cut your risk of infecting yourself. Please reinforce the
'hand washing' message with students, and EXPLAIN the benefits.
SLEEP ~ Getting eight to nine hours sustained sleep a night helps maintain your immune system and prevents you
catching a cold. But it’s not just going to bed on time that counts; you need good quality, sustained, sleep. Please see my Article on BEWARE THE LIGHT!! and
the deleterious effects of late night and / or long-term use of electronic devices emitting the blue-violet light spectrum ~ televisions, laptops, iPads, Kindles, Tablets, mobile phones, no matter how small the screen.
The evidence is mounting on the lack of attainment and failure to achieve expected results for students, and everyone in the workplace.
Please tell your students WHY they need nine to ten hours sustained sleep nightly.
For your older students, I have developed an Article, STUDENT! HELP'S HERE.
This gives all the self-care advice contained in this Article, plus some extra information, aimed at the needs of teenagers, older students, and slightly younger students. I hope you find it helps reduce the time you need to spend on factual information.
For your young students, let them know they grow during sleep, and their bones continue to develop. It is understood that 90 per cent of bone growth takes
place at night.
Nine to ten hours of good quality, sustained, sleep
give a child, youngster, and teenager adequate rest.
The human growth hormone is
released during this time, resulting in growth spurts. Sleep is essential for the body to rest, and adequate rest means better physical growth. Youngsters would be fascinated to know how much
they grow in their sleep ~ SUGGEST to your students that they need to take control of their sleep, as surely they want to grow as
much as possible.
SLEEP is also essential for physical recuperation,
the development of the immune system,
and information processing, as
well as many other systems of the brain and the body.
The older your students,
the more they may be interested in the science of sleep, and it could make an interesting Project-Based Learning (PBL) undertaking, with
different sections of the class dealing with discrete elements of the benefits of sleep.
Taking Care of Yourself Should Optimally Include the Following
Sufficient Magnesium in the diet is essential to help gain and maintain good quality sleep. If you have difficulties getting to sleep and staying asleep,
you may wish to consider taking a Magnesium supplement. Please discuss this with your GP. There are high potency, much improved uptake Magnesium supplements which are of great benefit to those of us
who have difficulty absorbing Magnesium from our normal diet. Some people CANNOT absorb Magnesium from their food.
Epsom salts baths may be helpful for some, and there are ranges of excellent Magnesium sprays which come in versions for sensitive skin and to
aid sleep. Some come as spray oils which can be massaged into the muscles that ache when Magnesium is not taken up by the body.
ACTIVE can help protect you from cold bugs. Aim for 30 minutes daily of moderate exercise, such as brisk walking, to keep your immune system ticking over.
There is new evidence that 30 minutes brisk walking daily has great general health benefits. Such daily walking regularly from today, and into older years, is one of the best
shields against dementia!
(www.getirelandactive.ie / www.irishtrails.ie)
As the school year continues, self-care becomes even more important, because the examination and / or assessment requirements are building. TRY NOT TO SLIP from
your daily habits of good food, lots of water, plenty of sleep, and a reasonable exercise regime ~ you're not trying out for the Olympics!
Have an Annual Influenza Vaccination
I know some people disapprove of this. However, you are not just considering your own health, you have to consider your wider family, including
older people, pregnant women, and members who may be frail, and who would find fighting influenza problematical.
Antibiotics are useless against influenza or any viral infection.
Visit hse.ie/antibiotics for further information on when antibiotics may be required, and when they have no benefit.
The German Measles (Rubella)
Virus is Making an Alarming
in Western Europe, and is Endemic
in parts of Eastern Europe
There is a requirement of 95% vaccination cover to give a 'herd immunity' required to stop the disease from spreading.
The Health Service Executive (HSE), which is the National body in Ireland governing the Country's health
care, has an Integrated Care Group for Children, and Dr Kevin Kelleher is on its Steering Group, and is also Assistant National Director for Public and Child Health. Dr Kelleher was
interviewed on the subject of Rubella outbreaks in parts of North Dublin and an adjacent County. This is because around 8 per cent of babies nationally do not get the vaccination, and 13-15 per cent
of babies are not vaccinated in North Dublin.
There is no reason to think
this profile is not replicated all over the 'Developed World'.
Measles had previously been almost completely eradicated in the 'Developed World' according to the programme.
Dr Kelleher was asked why there was not full uptake of the vaccination (it is free in Ireland), he said that there is "a very stubborn group of people who are very anti-vaccination" and "who put out stories" via the internet, media, social media, which put
people off having their children vaccinated.
Dr Kelleher told of of his experience of treating babies with
measles when he was a young doctor, and ended by stating the following vehemently.
nobody ever think measles is a mild disease. IT IS NOT."
He mentioned the group of people in the population who have not been vaccinated, especially in the "nadir" years 2001 / 2002.
People who do not have their babies vaccinated at 12 months as part of the MMR, and
the booster vaccination when they start school, are not just risking the health and possibly the life of their babies, but they risk the health and welfare of all who come in contact with their babies and children.
Do you know for certain if you were vaccinated as a child? The age group of approximately 40-35 years and
younger, is more likely NOT to have been vaccinated due to the unsubstantiated scare over the three-in-one vaccination causing autism, during that period. The MMR vaccine (Measles, Mumps, Rubella), can be TAKEN
AT ANY AGE if a GP immunity test shows you have no immunity.
The 6-in-1 vaccine protects
a baby against six diseases: diphtheria; hepatitis B; haemophilus influenzae type B (Hib); polio; tetanus and whooping cough.
Visit the above mentioned links for further information, plus the next two Sections.
A Digest of the Study
"Common Arguments Against Vaccination,
And The Answers to Them"
by Dr Ramesh Manocha, can be found at the end of this Post.
Of course, your health is very important, but so is that of your students,
family, older or frail people in your life, most especially pregnant women, and any women you know who may be planning a pregnancy. Catching RUBELLA in early pregnancy carries a risk of miscarriage.
Nine out of ten babies affected by Rubella in the uterus WILL HAVE major birth
defects such as deafness, blindness, brain damage, or heart disease.
The first signs of German
Measles are a high temperature and a sniffy nose ~ just like the common cold. In fact, some have no symptoms at all. By the time the telltale red splodges appear, two to three
days in, you have already infected others.
Proximity is enough to infect another, so being in the same room is sufficient
to pick up or spread the infection. If you feel you have the sniffles, do not go out.
PLEASE visit your GP to discuss this and other matters that affect teachers in particular. Please take time to visit www.immunisation.ie for further very important information on immunisation in general.
Pregnant women may need to learn about getting the WHOOPING COUGH (pertussis) vaccination while pregnant to protect the foetus in the womb and during the first few months of life.
PERTUSSIS is a highly contagious disease that can be life threatening and
is most serious in children less than six months of age ~ possibly resulting in hospitalisation for pneumonia and brain damage.
PLEASE see your GP if you are pregnant, hoping to be pregnant, or working in an environment with women of child bearing years,
for their sake and for your own.
PLEASE MEET YOUR GP FOR ADVICE ON DECISIONS REGARDING VACCINATIONS, IMMUNISATIONS, AND
ANY POSSIBLY REQUIRED SUPPLEMENTS TO YOUR DIET.
DUTY OF CARE
Having considered the matter of vaccination and the possible consequences of contracting any of
the illnesses contained by the MMR vaccine (Measles, Mumps, Rubella), plus the duty of care any school or educational establishment has to its employees and students, I have come
to believe it is reasonable for an interview board to ask any potential employee, at interview, if he or she knows if he or she has had the MMR vaccine.
Some people do not know if they had this three-in-one vaccine at a very young age, but a GP immunity test can show if a person has no immunity.
If a potential employee does not know if he or she has been vaccinated, or knows he or she is not vaccinated, I believe it is
the duty of a educational establishment to indicate they WILL EMPLOY STAFF who have been vaccinated with the MMR vaccine. An adult can have the
vaccine from a GP very easily.
Whatever is the personal choice of someone regarding having
or not having the MMR vaccine, I have come to believe the COMMON WELFARE of all the staff, students, and their families, in a early education
school / Montessori / kindergarten, junior and secondary schools, college or university, MUST OUTWEIGH a personal choice not to be checked for an immunity test, or not vaccinated, if shown not to have been vaccinated.
I consider no-one can reasonably expect to be employed in a place of work, particularly full of women of child-bearing years, plus female students without having
had the MMR vaccine and, of course, their partners and offspring of male teachers. We each have a societal duty.
This is just the front line of infection defence. The infection could easily be brought home to the family by anyone
working in or attending the educational establishment.
WHY HAVE PARENTS
The following are excerpts from an article in The Telegraph,
27 March 2019.
Click, click, click. That is all it takes to fall down the rabbit hole of the anti-vaccine movement that has taken root on social media.
Just a few taps on Instagram, for example, and one is taken deep into the realm of ‘anti-vax’
conspiracies, ranging from pseudo-scientific vindications for the disgraced British scientist Andrew Wakefield's bogus links between the
MMR jab and autism in children, to hashtags such as #vaccineskill (with some 18,236 posts), to mocked up images of youngsters punctured by a barrage of needles.
This is viral content in the most literal sense. The World Health Organisation (WHO) has pinpointed “vaccine hesitancy” as one of the 10 biggest global health threats for 2019.
number of measles infections across Continental Europe tripled to 82,500 in 2018, compared to the previous year - a surge which killed 72 children and adults.
Recently, Rockland County in New York State took the “extremely
unusual” step of banning non-vaccinated children from public places for 30 days, in a bid to halt an outbreak of measles – a disease declared eradicated from the US in 2000
– which has infected at least 153 people in the area since October.
Across the world, the anti-vaccine movement is drawing together disparate supporters from US President, Donald Trump, who
prior to election scatter-gunned numerous anti-vaccine tweets, to Russian trolls, from Hollywood celebrities
to hipster parents in the English Home Counties and Orthodox Jews in London.
Dr Heidi Larson,
director of the Vaccine Confidence Project established 10 years ago at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, says the sheer scale of the anti-vaccine messages online have become far harder for health
professionals to contest.
“These emotions and views don’t start with social media companies but are amplified by them,” she says. “But as a society we need to think seriously about what we can do because something has broken in a big way.”
The decision to leave a child unvaccinated, she points out, is not just a threat to them, individually, but also the so-called ‘herd immunity’– the resistance among any given population to a disease.
“I think it is irresponsible to not vaccinate,”
she says, given measles is deadly in one in every thousand cases, while infection can damage the entire immune system and lead to serious complications such as pneumonia and encephalitis (inflammation
of the brain).
Dr Larson believes matters are reaching a point where the British government might need to reconsider its current position of leaving the choice entirely down to parents.
“I wouldn’t wait until there is a crisis,” she says. “If
I were in government I would seriously consider putting requirements in place. Going to school, I don’t think it’s unreasonable to say a child needs to be vaccinated because they put others at risk.”
beliefs are believed to play a role. The number of vaccinated children living in the ultra-orthodox Charedi Jewish community in Stamford Hill in north London, for example, is estimated to be well under 80 per cent, while Dr Larson says some Muslim
communities have also raised concerns about gelatine in some vaccines.
But it is also in affluent areas where parents, inspired by the natural health movement, are choosing not to vaccinate their child.
“The way we live our life is to stay well and really focus on being healthy,” one mother says.
“There are vaccinations now for things that wouldn’t even make a child that ill. I don’t want him to suffer, obviously, but he never gets ill. I really don’t understand this need to protect ourselves from things that
won’t do our child too much harm.”
she is “pro-choice rather than anti-vaccine”, she admits she has been criticised for her approach and lost one friend altogether. Another mother from an affluent area, says she, too, is wary of admitting that she hasn’t vaccinated her
“There’s not enough information out there,” she says. “You’re just told, if you don’t vaccinate your kids they’ll get measles, and you’re a stupid hippy. You’re
chastised by the health system if you don’t do things by the book, in the same way as if you don’t breastfeed. It’s really hard as a parent to navigate.”
the public health community has little time for such arguments. According to Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, Chair of the Royal College of GPs, “one unvaccinated child is one too many” and recent
measles outbreaks are a sharp reminder of how serious the disease can be.
“We need to cut through the fake news, with evidence-based, easy to understand health advice for patients such as that provided by Public Health England,” she says.
“They should feel
equipped and confident to challenge any spurious claims they might encounter so that they can make sensible, informed decisions about the long-term health and wellbeing of their children.”
The spectre of British doctor Andrew Wakefield, drummed out of the British
medical profession for his 1998 paper that made a link between MMR and autism, still looms large over the modern day vaccine info-wars.
Twenty years on, he has rehabilitated his reputation in the US to such an extent that he is
in a relationship with supermodel, Elle Macpherson, and has amassed avowed supporters who fervently believe his (professionally) debunked claims.
Anna Merlan, a US-based journalist and
author of a forthcoming book, Republic of Lies, on the rise of conspiracy theorists in America, has interviewed Wakefield, shadowed him giving talks on a cruise ship and attended a
sell-out screening of his documentary, Vaxxed, in New York.
“He is very charismatic and feeds into long-standing suspicions [in the US],” she says. Whenever asked
about his exile from Britain, she says he is “able to skilfully talk about it as a vendetta against him by a medical establishment who felt he was getting too close to the truth”.
In April of this year, Facebook agreed to ban advertisements with anti-vaccination content while Instagram has announced
it will also introduce controls.
WHY SOME INFECTIOUS DISEASES ARE ON THE RISE WORLDWIDE
WANING IMMUNITY IS NOW
A SCIENTIFIC FACT FOR WHOOPING COUGH, MEASLES, MUMPS
Dr Muiris Houston
Irish Times, 28 April 2019.
Among children who get all doses of DTaP vaccine on schedule, effectiveness is very high within the year following the final dose – at least nine out of 10 children are fully protected.
Despite having effective vaccines, infectious diseases such as mumps, measles and whooping cough are on the rise globally. And while false news about vaccine safety – leading to vaccine hesitancy – has undoubtedly played
a part, are there other reasons for this unwelcome trend?
The latest figures from the World Health Organisation suggest there have been a 300 per cent increase in the number of measles
cases worldwide in the first three months of 2019.
It noted that many countries are in the midst of sizeable measles outbreaks, with all regions of the world experiencing sustained rises in cases. Coming
on top of sequential increases in measles cases in the previous two years, it is clear we have a problem with a potentially fatal infectious disease, that – until relatively recently – we thought could be eradicated.
Could waning vaccine immunity be one of the reasons?
decades of declining pertussis (whooping cough) and mumps incidence, for example, recent years have seen a resurgence of each disease despite maintenance of high vaccine coverage. Cases have mainly been among young-adult age groups. For mumps,
protection appears to wane over decades, prompting the use of additional doses of vaccine for outbreak control. And doctors are seeing an increasing number of adults with the interminable “whoop” of whooping cough.
In April of this year, Toronto researcher Dr Jeff Kwong and his colleagues published a study in the journal Vaccine
suggesting that the vaccine for pertussis works well at protecting people from the disease during the first decade of life, but that immunity later falls.
It seems vaccination is more complex than we might have thought.
Pertussis vaccines are effective, but not perfect. They typically offer good levels
of protection within the first two years after getting the vaccine, but then protection decreases over time. Public health experts call this “waning immunity”. Similarly, natural infection may also only protect you for a few years.
When it comes to waning immunity, it seems that
the acellular pertussis vaccines (DTaP and Tdap) used now may not protect for as long as the whole-cell vaccine (DTP) doctors used to use. Whole-cell pertussis vaccines are associated with higher rates of minor and temporary side effects such as fever
and pain and swelling at the injection site. Serious neurologic adverse reactions, including chronic neurological problems, occurred rarely among children who had recently received whole-cell vaccines, prompting the development of the acellular version.
In general, DTaP vaccines are 80 to 90 per cent effective. Among children who get all doses of DTaP on schedule,
effectiveness is very high within the year following the final dose – at least nine out of 10 kids are fully protected. There is a modest decrease in effectiveness in each following year. In the first year after getting vaccinated with Tdap,
it protects about seven out of 10 people who receive it.
About three or four out
of 10 people are fully protected four years after getting this version of the whooping cough vaccine. And receiving the newer (acellular) version of the vaccine was associated with twice the odds of contracting whooping cough compared with those who
received the older vaccine when they were infants.
Resurgence in Mumps
Meanwhile, Scottish researchers have found
evidence that the resurgence in mumps cases is due to waning immunity. They wanted to know why a vaccine-preventable disease is re-emerging in highly vaccinated populations. In 2015 some 67 per cent of those
infected with mumps in Scotland were fully vaccinated individuals. Most of these cases occurred in adolescents and young adults, in contrast to the pre-vaccine era where outbreaks were among primary school children.
So it seems vaccination is more complex than we might
have thought. What was traditionally viewed as a “done and dusted” task for childhood may now need to extend to adult life. With waning immunity a scientific fact for whooping cough, measles and mumps, booster
vaccinations throughout life are likely to become part of future national immunisation programmes in Ireland.
AS A NEW TEACHER
You may feel, as a new teacher, that you have to volunteer for everything, to show you are enthusiastic and keen to be involved in the School life.
KEEP YOUR HAND DOWN! and only volunteer for something you know you are good at and enjoy, and that your efforts would be making a worthwhile contribution, plus attracting positive reactions
from colleagues, school authorities, pupils, and parents.
You will spend considerably more time in research, preparation, lesson-planning, and checking
homework, than the school hours allow. You will be roped into jobs in any case.
Do not rush
to add to your workload!
STRESS IN GENERAL
Stress is VERY high on the list of teachers' illnesses. However, stress is frequently under-reported, as it
is seen by many, FOOLISHLY, as a weakness!
Please see the following links.
If your whole evening and every weekend end up being spent on grading or preparation, your job has run away with you, and you need to get back in charge. Please see my Post, BEWARE THE LIGHT!! on how over-working with a computer screen, especially late in the evening, can harm your health, and affect negatively your sleep patterns.
I know teachers who have had complete nervous and physical breakdowns DUE TO THE STRESS of keeping up with grading homework, preparing new and interesting ways of getting
across the syllabus, and possibly studying to improve their own skills. Two school principals I know had to retire early due to ill-health brought on by extreme stress in their workplaces. IT CAN HAPPEN to
anyone very fast, and it is a long and exhausting way back to health, when one has eventually realised the fact it HAS happened.
PLEASE GET HELP as soon as you feel under pressure;
When sleep is becoming erratic;
When your laundry regime has fallen apart;
When your mealtimes
become hit and miss;
When your usual schedules for supermarket shopping, collecting
dry cleaning, and meeting friends, just do not work any more;
When you feel out of control ~ YOU NEED HELP IMMEDIATELY!
GETTING HELP immediately could be what saves your career. A likely outcome for a teacher who has a complete physical and nervous breakdown is early retirement.
Jenny Harvey's Survey on Mental Health Issues relating to Teachers in Scotland, February 2017
In a survey carried out in Scotland at the beginning of February 2017, by Jenny Harvey, a Fife special needs teacher (who was taken aback by the volume of responses – 778 at the last count), found nearly half of teachers are struggling
with mental health issues.
[See the online TES article by Henry Hepburn for more information.]
NEARLY HALF of respondents to the poll on teacher well-being said their mental
health was POOR, fuelling fears that growing numbers are struggling to cope with the profession’s changing demands.
Experts are saying every school in Scotland should have a counsellor to help deal with teaching's unique demands.
A significant proportion also takes medication because of the job. The convener of a national mental health helpline has said that the demands of teaching are so
exceptional that a counsellor should be stationed in every school.
Some 45 per cent said that their mental health was “poor” or “very poor”, and 15 per cent reported taking medication
because of the stresses of their work.
Ms Harvey was surprised by some findings ~ such as almost
every respondent felt the “heavy burden” of GUILT about the educational experience they offered pupils. “We just want the best for our pupils and sometimes we feel more could
be done for them,” she said. “There just aren’t enough hours in the day or resources that we need”.
I do not imagine Scotland is out of step, and that the teachers there are under a significantly greater burden than teachers here, elsewhere in Europe,
or further afield. I imagine the respondents to this survey found being able to be straightforward about their experience a relief.
IS THIS not a good time to ask some stark questions about the general mental health status of our teachers, the levels of support they get to do their jobs, and if they have sufficient resources and assistance to ease
their stress levels?
ALSO bear in mind, that if
your students are sitting a State exam, or any important school exam, some may become very stressed. Prepare from the BEGINNING of the school year to reduce their stress levels by introducing
them to the self-help information below with STRESS CHATS. Stressed students can add to a teacher's sense of pressure.
If your School has a Counsellor, co-ordinate your Stress Chats with your students with him or her, so that he or she knows to expects extra appointments,
and request in good time quantities of leaflets beforehand, from the Counsellor, which you can pass around in the classroom, having read the contents yourself.
Then, put aside time to talk to your students about STRESS, impressing on them it is NOT shameful, that it IS
manageable, and TO TALK ABOUT IT. Let them know the School Counsellor is expecting applications for appointments.
Let your students know you are always there to listen, if they need to talk.
If you do not have a School Counsellor, try finding out what up-to-date information might be in the School Library and the Staff Room, and also email a request to your Local Health
Authority for sufficient leaflets on such topics as:
USE OF STREET
DRUGS (www.drugs.ie/Know-The-Facts / www.drugs.ie/resourcesfiles/guides/DealingWithDrugUse.pdf / https://drugfree.org/parent-blog/preventing-teen-using-drugs-persuasion/);
PREVENTING OR STOPPING SMOKING IN YOUNG PEOPLE
VACCINATIONS AND IMMUNISATIONS ~ HPV Vaccine - early teenage girl and boy vaccination to prevent cervical cancer (www.hpv.ie / http://www.cdc.gov/vaccinesafety/vaccines/hpv-vaccine.html);
SEXUALLY TRANSMITTED INFECTIONS (STIs)
MENTAL HEALTH ADVICE FOR CHILDREN AND YOUNG PEOPLE (Teenage Mental Health - MyMind.org / www.mentalhealthireland.ie/teens/ / Adwww.mymind.org /
If you know the latest thinking on any subject, you will be more confident supporting your students.
Clearly, most of the the above sites are Irish, but they should give you basic information, and you could then go to your local Health Authority to obtain links and brochures
relevant to where you live.
The following may help your students keep a balance, and perhaps you would care
to post it up on the classroom wall.
A Quote from an Article by Marie Louise McConville on Stress Coming up to Exam Time. The School Counsellor may be
pleased to have a copy.
The Irish News
became very unwell due to over-studying and becoming extremely stressed before important exams.]
"If you are about to sit exams these coming weeks, take
a minute to remember that while results are important, they are not the be-all-and-end-all.
"Exams can be re-sat but we only have one chance at life and living it
and enjoying it and really, without our health, what chance do we have?
"So, if you're about to enter that intimidating exam hall or about to hand in that all-important
dissertation, take a deep breath and remember, your life will not be determined by this one exam or in this one moment.
"If you're feeling under pressure, it's important
you talk to someone. You are not alone. Your family and friends love you and want what's best for you and will support you no matter what and you will never disappoint them.
"They want you healthy and happy.
"Remember, it is true what they say, you're health really is your wealth.
Help in the
classroom by doing some of the exercises in When Everyone Needs to Calm Down! ~ is to be found at the end of this Article, and also read through with the students the last section called WHEN ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!
My Article, THE STUDENT TAKES THE LEAD DESIGNING WORK PLANS, helps students to calm down and get some structure to their evening activities,
and plan their own work schedules. Also, use suggestions from the Care for Your General Health ... advice Sections above and below, from the beginning of the school year.
For the teacher's own sake, she should have her plans for the examination academic year prepared well in advance, so that the vital work is covered by the students in the fashion that suits them best. Many teachers may have worked with the
class the previous year, and so will know what style of studying works for each student.
Project-Based Learning (PBL) is a great way to engage learning of all different modalities: including visual, auditory, kinaesthetic, and tactile. Utilising PBL is an equitable
way to reach and engage all learners in your classroom, and provide them with hands-on, real life, problem solving opportunities.
IF SUCH prepared plans are not in place, the teacher can divide the class into the above groups, and get them to work together towards a single goal, for each element
of the syllabus.