‘My mental health is at an all-time low’: Teachers talk of burnout, MOE aware that ‘gaps’ need plugging – CNA

Posted: September 6, 2021 at 1:47 am

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For Timothy*, who was a secondary school teacher for four years, the anxiety stemmed from not knowing what exactly he needed to do to perform better or maintain his grade.

Id keep doing more to try to fill that gap, and then the disappointment is when (even though) I keep doing more ... Im not performing (better) than another teacher in another school, he said.

Theyre getting a B; Im getting a C-plus. But Im doing more than them, and they always tell me that Im doing way more than them. So how is this fair?

Mrs Chua-Lim said the grades that teachers get shouldnt be a surprise. Work review sessions should happen two times a year at least, so that teachers can improve after the first review if need be.

But hearing the differing experiences shared by teachers, she acknowledged that somehow when it comes to the actual implementation, there are gaps. Now that we know there are gaps, well then make sure that we plug the gaps, she said.

That means the MOE (needs) to work with the reporting officers. For example, in their training, there is a workshop called managing difficult conversations, on how to say what they have to say.

So that at the end of the day, I may give you a grade, you may not be happy, but you can accept it, said Mrs Chua-Lim.

Several teachers, like Paul*, said there are expectations that they demonstrably show that they can deliver beyond their basic teaching duties in order to get better grades.

This is where people are pressured to stage projects and events that have little relevance to teaching and learning, said the secondary school teacher.

This points to a larger systemic issue: That a lot of the pointless stuff we do, like planning sports day ... should be outsourced to either event vendors or specialty officers whose job is to do this stuff.

Stradling multiple roles, said many teachers, is overwhelming.

To fulfilher other co-curricular activity and committee roles, Lisa said she is sometimes so busy she has to stop or delay her marking and her lessons preparations.

Everything becomes very messy (in class) because I didnt finish marking, then I cant give immediate feedback to my kids, and it frustrates me to be short-changing the children, she said.

I truly hate it each time when it comes to the ranking, and (school leaders) start saying that, okay, look, you havent done this and youre going to get this grade.

It makes you feel like your worth is attached to (the grade) and as if youre not doing (well) enough.

While the stressor and struggles are manifold, sometimes the starting point is whether teachers have asked, or been able to ask, for help.

Most people get into teaching because theres a pastoral side to them, said Chong Pao-er, a counsellor from Shan You Counselling Centre and a former teacher. Theres that caring side to them, and interestingly, I find its that group of teachers who get especially burnt out.

Theres absolutely no limit to what (the teachers) can do in that sense.

In Susans staffroom, frustrations are often put on the back burner. The moment someone says, lets do it for the kids, we go, said the upper-secondary teacher. We tell ourselves, stop complaining, lets revamp this, design that, find resources.

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'My mental health is at an all-time low': Teachers talk of burnout, MOE aware that 'gaps' need plugging - CNA

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September 6th, 2021 at 1:47 am

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