Voice strain: This is an element of the job that can be frustrating. We are constantly using our voices and as a result, voices strain. Some days I have needed time just get my voice back. I feel okay but the strain on my voice causes me to lose it.
Colds and seasonal flus: Flu season starts to turn teachers into obsessive cleaners. Anti-bacterial sprays are in full effect as well as disinfecting wipes.
Cold and flu season is harder with younger children. When I moved into juniors, I seemed to get sicker more frequently than I did teaching seniors. Parents often send kids sick because they cannot stay home. This means that the flu season seems to lengthen.
Infectious diseases: teachers are surprisingly exposed to rare and dangerous infectious diseases. Kids can travel or come to school with illness that are dangerous or rare. There have been a few new and interesting illnesses that have been passed on from children travelling overseas. Infectious diseases seem to keep occurring. It can range from good old chicken pox, swine flu and school sores to diseases that are more serious.
Exhaustion: it sounds strange. All jobs have an element of tiredness. Teachers are not exempt from this. As we are in a service industry, we have a tendency to put kids and their families first. Our own wellbeing comes second. Learning to take needed sick days guilt free is a hard learning curve. Reminding yourself that the job isn't life and doesn't need to consume every waking moment during a term is also hard. As a result, teachers tend to suffer from exhaustion. Hours are often well into the night. Sleep is then minimal. This continues for many weeks.
Eye strain: Some days it feels like all I do is read and watch kids. Read articles, read data, read work. Eyes often become tired and strained.
Back pain: this one takes me by surprise. I actually had spinal surgery. One of the surgeons pointed out that the chairs teachers sit on, in particular elementary and junior teachers, are designed for kids and not adults. As teachers, we lean over, bend to get down to kids’ levels, take groups on the floor and sit in chairs designed for kids all day. This can cause strain to the back. Over the years, a surprisingly high number of teachers that I work with suffer from chronic and severe back pain.
Stress and burnout: the most frequent one. I often say that teaching is like a high-speed drag race. Starts at a furious pace and doesn't stop until the end of the year. Dealing with kids, their behaviours and issues, learning, preparation, parents, families, leaders, other teachers, expectations etc. is just plain stressful. All teachers can share times when things get so intense that they wake at three in the morning. Mind and heart racing. Sometimes, teaching issues can event haunt you in dreams. I cannot tell you the amount of times I have had random dreams or nightmares over the years.
These are a few of the major health traps of teaching. That's not to mention the occasional football in the head or fall on the yard. Teaching has health issues that come with the job. I just wished that they were recognised, discussed and addressed more frequently. Acknowledgement of these health issues is important and the industry as a whole needs to find ways to protect our teachers health. #teacherhealth #twocreativeteachers