The untold emotional toll on teachers

In addition to academic responsibilities, many teachers face administrative hurdles that can be emotionally draining, writes G Sangayya Swamy
Last Updated : 13 May 2024, 20:48 IST
Last Updated : 13 May 2024, 20:48 IST

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Many teachers face a silent struggle in today's education system, which focuses on and revolves around academic excellence and student achievements. Beyond the regular cycle of lesson plans and checking assessments, teachers navigate a complex landscape of emotions, confronting various challenges beyond classroom activities.

As demanded by the modern education system, teachers, mentors, and student counsellors disseminate knowledge. But behind this lies the web of emotional challenges that can affect their well-being.

While this emotion is immense and can lead to joy and pride, it can also expose teachers to the pains and struggles of their students who fail to achieve academic excellence. Despite regular academic chores, teachers face external pressure from parents, administrators, and society, which can be overwhelming.

The teaching profession creates unrealistic expectations of infinite patience, enthusiasm, and constant success in their subject domain. Stakeholders in the education system do not understand the burnout teachers face.

Teachers’ well-being is hardly discussed, and the topic is less explored. In the Indian context, education becomes key to a better future, and college teachers become responsible for shaping the future and aspirations of ambitious students and their families. This task takes a toll on the emotional well-being of many teachers.

With the responsibility of preparing students for competitive exams, teachers find themselves in a delicate balance between academic mentorship and emotional turmoil. In addition to academic responsibilities, many teachers face administrative hurdles that can be emotionally draining. This comes with a note of bureaucratic red tape to meet stringent curriculum guidelines and assessments. At large, this can impede the core of the teaching profession.

Daily challenges

Rigid culture, strict rules, office politics, and institutional structures add an emotional burden to the daily challenges many college teachers face in the present scenario of lush green campuses of modern institutions. The immediate impact of the debatable issue on teachers is that the delicate line between personal and professional becomes blurred.

Many academic-oriented teachers feel insecure about their PhD programmes remaining incomplete. If they are incomplete, the institution may terminate the contract without notice. Institutional expectations are high beyond classroom activities, such as research, extracurricular activities, student-centric monitoring, content creation for e-learning, and online classes for slow learners, leading to a constant struggle for work-life balance.

Juggling marriage, family life, and societal roles while maintaining academic excellence is challenging. Most institutions and colleges are in a quest for academic excellence. They mount stress on teachers to publish or perish. Their expectations to produce high-quality research papers of high index, attend conferences, continuously update academics, and stay competitive with others are always taxing despite heavy teaching workloads and can be emotionally draining. This leads to higher disorders of emotional stress and other well-being issues.

Teaching in Bengaluru

Bengaluru, where technology meets tradition and academia, thrives with a broadened educational landscape. The city attracts a diverse and multicultural student population, bringing together individuals from different states and economic and social backgrounds.

This diversity enriches educational experiences and inculcates the unique challenges and opportunities of navigating the intricacies of different learning styles, linguistic nuances, and cultural expectations.

This emotional investment is a double-edged sword that adds a layer of complexity to the teaching profession in Bengaluru. Our emotional well-being is directly influenced by the city in which we work. In a place like Bengaluru, where technology and innovation are buzzwords, catering to students with high aspirations is challenging to meet the competitive industry demands of academics.

Struggling with old pattern curricula creates a unique emotional burden for the teaching fraternity. Bustling urban life comes with predefined challenges, particularly commuting in high traffic, which is always notorious. This will exhaust the charm of morning freshness with the scalable idea that fades away with sweating.

The stakeholders must recognise the teachers' emotional challenges and foster a supportive and encouraging environment that allows them to seek needy help without fear of judgment. It is also important to prioritise the teacher’s well-being, provide mental health resources, and promote a culture of open communication.

It takes a long time to address the untold emotional toll of teaching in the context of the Indian education system. Creating a culture of empathy within academic institutions can play a crucial role in alleviating standards of teaching, and adopting the quality of teaching is non-rigorous and should be maintained at par with excellence. 

(The author is an assistant professor at Government First Grade College, Yelahanka)

Published 13 May 2024, 20:48 IST

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