High stress for teachers trying to meet student needs, survey says

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A survey conducted for the Canadian Teachers' Federation finds that 95 per cent of respondents are finding it hard to meet the needs of their students.

More than 8,000 teachers Canada-wide participated in the voluntary survey which set out to inquire about their work-life balance as well as potential sources of stress, both inside and outside the classroom.

On P.E.I., 115 teachers took part in the survey.

Inside the classroom, 95 per cent of respondents said they were experiencing stress because of challenges meeting the educational needs of their students.

Three out of four educators cited interruptions to teaching by students as a stressor, 71 per cent listed student absenteeism as an issue and more than 60 per cent of respondents reported challenges in dealing with students' personal or health-related issues.

Lack of time to plan assessments with colleagues was reported as a stressor by 86 per cent of teachers surveyed while 85 per cent indicated marking and grading as a source of stress. Other challenges include increased administrative-related work and outdated technology.

Dianne Woloschuk, head of the Canadian Teachers' Federation, said 93 per cent of teachers find they feel torn between their teaching and home responsibilities.

"This does not come as a surprise in light of several teacher organization's workload studies conducted since 2000 showing the average teacher works approximately 53 hours per week,'' Woloschuk said. "Of those teachers who are also parents, 90 per cent of women and 81 per cent of men reported they did not have enough time to spend with their own children. As professionals, teachers' continued commitment to their students' success is coming at the expense of their personal lives.''

This comes on top of news this week on P.E.I. that an additional 32 teaching positions will be cut for the 2014-15 school year, citing accusations from the Opposition that teachers are being asked to do more with less.

P.E.I. Education Minister Alan McIsaac said teachers are the biggest assets in the school system and the province is doing everything it can to support them.

"Sad part is we have X amount of dollars,'' McIsaac said Thursday. "Eighty-three per cent of our (education budget) goes into salary and we have to be very, very cautious how we spend those dollars. I would love to have more resources but we do what we can.''

The minister said government is trying to create more development time for teachers.

"One of the greatest growth areas we can have is when we have quality teachers. That's the real benefit, even more so than putting technology in classrooms; quality teaching that will improve our system.''

McIsaac said his department will continue to work with the P.E.I. Teachers' Federation and teachers in the system to improve the system any way they can.

Organizations: P.E.I. Teachers

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