Although 87% of 5th to 9th grade teachers say that their job is fun, more than a third are at risk of burnout, nearly one-fifth say they suffer weekly from symptoms of depression, and one-fifth feel “constantly overwhelmed”.
According to the survey, administered to 600 teachers across Switzerland by the Pedagogical University of Northwest Switzerland, female teachers seemed to be at higher risk of burnout. Teachers with between 21 and 25 lessons per week felt particularly overwhelmed and dissatisfied with their work, and suffered often from symptoms of depression.
The survey found no differences between the language areas in Switzerland and no differences between class levels. The teacher’s level of experience also played no role.
The results of the survey are no surprise to Beat W. Zemp, President of the Swiss Teachers Association.
“Stress in the workplace has increased dramatically almost everywhere in recent years,” he told the Swiss News Agency SDA. “Teachers are affected by a few specific factors which increase the load.”
Teachers are constantly under observation, says Zemp, and have few opportunities to retreat. Their breaks are often used to prepare for classes or to hold meetings with students.
Zemp called for a reduction in the number of classes teachers give per week and suggested that the number of students per class be reduced to 22.
In spite of the many negative findings, two-thirds of the teachers surveyed felt that their job made use of their experience and talents and said they enjoy the time they spend at work.
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