Taylor Dupuy writing for Monster.com listed five jobs that are likely to leave people disappointed. Number three on the list was Secondary School Teachers—my job for twenty-seven of the thirty years I was in the classroom.
Regret also means: anguish; annoyance; bitterness; disappointment; discomfort, dissatisfaction; etc. All emotions I felt one or more times during my thirty years in the classroom.
Dupuy says: “would-be teachers often don’t fully understand what the job involves until after they have started.”
Teachers starting out—often naïve idealists who think they’re going to make a big difference—have no idea of the paperwork required of an educator “as well as the unending parent interventions and the reluctance of students to do the work. [They don’t] realize the politics of working in a secondary school system.”
The challenges teachers face is daunting: “The education profession is often marred by a lack of resources, dwindling support, and modest salaries … teachers must simultaneously parent and counsel all while navigating the stressful terrain often found in the bureaucracy of school districts.”
This risky environment may also explain why teachers have a high risk of PTSD. “The National Center for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder estimates 7.8 percent of Americans will experience PTSD at some point in their lives, with women twice as likely as men to have PTSD.”
Due to the reality of what happens in the public school classroom, teachers are at a higher risk of PTSD. Joel Hood (Chicago Tribune/MCT) reported: “teachers may be more susceptible than most, … particularly those in tough, urban schools where violence is commonplace … (and) many teachers who suffer from PTSD see their careers significantly altered.”
The American Society for Ethics in Education says, “post-traumatic stress disorder (or PTSD) appears to impact a significant number of teachers in our schools.”
How many teachers might suffer from PTSD? Teresa McIntyre, a psychology research professor at the University of Houston says, “Teachers don’t have one or two traumatic events; it’s a chronic daily stress that accumulates over days and months and years. It’s pretty equivalent in other high-risk occupations.”
In a pilot study conducted of 50 teachers in four Houston-area middle schools, Ms. McIntyre found as many as one in three teachers in the Houston district were “significantly stressed,” with symptoms ranging from concentration problems, fatigue and sleep problems.
If one in three teachers have PTSD symptoms, that means 33% compared to the national average of 7.8%. How does this compare to combat veterans? The findings from the NVVR Study (National Vietnam Veterans’ Readjustment Study) commissioned by the government in the 1980s initially found that for “Vietnam theater veterans” 15% of men had PTSD at the time of the study and 30% of men had PTSD at some point in their life … [and] at least 20% of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans have PTSD and/or Depression. (Veterans and PTSD)
A National Survey of Violence Against Teachers reported: “Teacher victimization was examined across all teachers surveyed (see Table 1). Results indicate that approximately half (50.9%; n = 2,410) of all teachers surveyed reported at least one form of victimization within the current or previous year. Nearly half of all teachers experienced at least one harassment offense, followed by over one-third experiencing property offenses, and over one-quarter reporting physical attacks. Moreover, 1 in 5 teachers reported being victimized at least once within all three offense domains.”
Lloyd Lofthouse is a former U.S. Marine and Vietnam Veteran.
His latest novel is the award winning Running with the Enemy. Blamed for a crime he did not commit while serving in Vietnam, his country considers him a traitor. Ethan Card is a loyal U.S. Marine desperate to prove his innocence or he will never go home again.
And the woman he loves and wants to save was trained to kill Americans.
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