Teachers resemble performing artists. Teachers too have to get on stage and have to deliver an engaging ‘thing’ before a critical and sometimes distracted audience. Performing can be extremely exhausting. You have to empower yourself with enough energy to give performance a go. The moment before “getting on” can be very stressful. Even experienced performing artists, dancers, show masters, actors, musicians (1) admit they have (often strong) emotions of anxiety and fear before entry for an audience. The strange thing about it is that it does not lessen or disappear with practice or experience. It stays with you no matter how celebrate you are. So how is this with teachers, especially with beginning teachers when they have to prepare for class?
A thorough and enlightening study from Germany gives more background to this. The six authors looked at the interplay of emotional exhaustion, the feeling of self efficacy (“ I am doing fine”) and the professional knowledge of beginning teachers. It turned out that the feeling of being burned out was high among these teachers but it gradually decreased over time. Being exhausted affected their sense of self efficacy (negatively). And unfortunately, being a well-prepared and knowledgeable professional did not help to reduce the dominant feeling of exhaustion (although some signs in the study indicated that it may help a bit).
To deliver requires energy, a lot. Being good, experienced, or qualified does not add much weight to abandon or overcome the exhaustion that is part of being a professional. Knowing this and accepting it might relief a bit the feelings of anxiety that accompany the act of delivery (2) . Apparently performing under pressure is the natural and normal habitat for professionals. But it does not appear that it is being regarded that way that much, both among the professional and the audience. Giving full steam ahead, however, would also imply to accept the energy it consumes.
Beginning teachers’ efficacy and emotional exhaustion: Latent changes, reciprocity, and the influence of professional knowledge By Theresa Dicke, Philip D. Parker, Doris Holzberger, Olga Kunina-Habenicht,
Mareike Kunter, & Detlev Leutnera Contemporary Educational Psychology 41 (2015) 62–72
Link: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.cedpsych.2014.11.003 0361-476X/© 2014 Published by Elsevier Inc.