Home Career What’s the Biggest Cause of Stress for First-Year Teachers?

What’s the Biggest Cause of Stress for First-Year Teachers?

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We are forever fans of @educatorandrea. We loved her imitating teachers on Valentine’s Day, showing us what it’s like being an English teacher before winter break, and her impressions of different grade-level teachers.

Now that she’s left the high school classroom to teach at the college level, she’s been updating her followers on this transition. What it’s like saying goodbye to the secondary classroom. How she made that decision. What her new job will look like.

In one of her recent TikToks, she talks about some of her findings as she gathers data for her dissertation. She’s studying the way that stress impacts first-year teachers, particularly their relationships with their students. Here’s what she says:

@educatorandrea

Dissertation update: TLDR: go hang out with your friends. #fyp #teachertok

♬ original sound – Andrea

Let’s break this down.

The factor causing first-year teachers the most stress isn’t what we thought.

It’s not administrators.

Or the depressing status of education in the national eye.

It isn’t parents.

It’s not students.

It’s whether or not they have a team.

At first, it sounds surprising. Having a solid team makes the biggest difference on stress? It seems like there are much bigger things to point to when we think of the pressure a first-year teacher is under.

But it makes perfect sense. A strong team or mentor can guide you through all the other stressors. So much of the challenges of the first year are feeling like you have no idea what you’re doing—and feeling like everyone else knows it. Guessing what to do next feels unstable. Troubleshooting failed lessons takes so much time. Recognizing failed student interactions is demoralizing.

But a mentor who knows what they’re doing? A team who can validate your feelings? Your PLC’s treasure trove of strong lesson plans?

Gold.

Whether it’s the copier jamming or a tricky parent email, a strong team can take so much of the pressure off guesswork. Especially when everything feels high-stakes at the beginning.

So, what does this mean?

We need first-year teachers to know the importance of finding a team, community, or strong mentor.

This needs to be something they ask about and look for in interviews.

We need experienced teachers to know just how valuable their mentorship is.

They need to go out of their way to check on new teachers and make them feel included.

We need administrators to know that team meetings and PLCs are so much more than a box to check.

And for the love of Maslow, don’t evaluate their meetings. 🙄

We need legislators to know we won’t retain new teachers without an experienced, talented teacher pool to guide them.

Which means we need to sustain our experienced, talented teacher pool. Which means we need to pay them more. And treat them like the professionals they are instead of benevolent robots who have no existence, meaning, or needs apart from service.

I would like to end with my favorite quote from this TikTok. It’s poetry.

“What I’m saying is if you spent your planning period just vibing with your coworkers instead of grading, planning, prepping, whatever, you were doing the Lord’s work. And now we have data to back it up. You’re welcome.”

What are your thoughts on Andrea’s findings about stress for first-year teachers? Share with us in the comments.

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