Stressful to attend an AGM?
KUCHING — Catholic teachers in Kuching gathered on 16 February 2019 in SMK St Joseph for their annual general meeting. Since the term of the committee members is two years, there was no election this time.
Mr Henry Chai, the principal of SMK St Joseph who is also the president of the guild, welcomed the members. The vice president, Mr Paul Wong conducted the confirmation of the minutes of the previous AGM. The secretary, Ms Zita Kho, and the assistant treasurer, Ms Vanessa Patrick gave their annual reports.
After the AGM, Fr Francis Lim, SJ led the recollection entitled “Coping with Work Burden.” He started by having the members break into groups to share on ‘what are the school stressors and how do the members cope with them?’ Then each group sent a representative to give a summary of their sharing.
The members were grateful to share their anecdotes in schools. They found it therapeutic to voice out their work burdens. By listening to others sharing the same problems, they felt less alone in handling the issues.
They also learnt the different ways others have used to counter or manage these stresses. In a sentence, this was a good occasion to share best practices in coping with work burden.
Teachers face stress with various groups of people in their daily life. The groups of people are:
1) Students with many misbehaviours, the tension of caring enough for the students and ignoring those with serious and seemingly unsolvable problems;
2) Administrators and the education department: lack of encouragement or appreciation, lack of communication, pressured with unrealistic goals and high expectations, tons of paper work, last minute instructions, etc;
3) Colleagues: unfairness in the distribution of work – those who can perform are burdened with extra duties, gossip, dissatisfaction among teachers, racial discrimination, no teamwork, lackadaisical attitude, etc;
4) Parents: unreasonable complaints, uncooperative, lack of support, insistent, too busy parents to the point they have no time for their children, no respect for teachers;
Teachers also face stress with the change of environment. For example, in-house training, changing pedagogy and generation gap. On top of that, they also face their own high self-expectation.
They need to understand and accept the reality versus the ideal that they set for themselves or those set by the administrators. Some do feel that they could have done better in helping their students to achieve more.
Aside from this, teachers are also burdened with family responsibilities other than those in the school.
Ways of coping with stress include physical exercise, healthy eating habits and sufficient sleep. Self-care is very important. Relaxing methods are abundant to help them de-stress. Sharing with friends is very helpful.
Positive attitude towards the various stressors in life is very important. No one can escape from having stress in life; it is a matter of how to manage them well. Having a well-grounded faith in God is crucial. Prayer and meditation help. By focusing on what is the ultimate reason for teaching is the foundation for being.
Fr Francis introduced the Principle and Foundation of St Ignatius of Loyola. We must know the goal of our lives and the important use of different means to achieve this goal which is praising, reverencing and serving God.
Why do the teachers teach? They teach who they are – being a good role model is very important for students. By helping others in stressful situation, we learn to be less stressful ourselves.
In order to cultivate this awareness, it is helpful to be grateful to God for the many things in life that happen every day. We train ourselves to be grateful. By doing so, we become less affected by what stresses us in life.
Fr Francis Lim, SJ