Teaching Seriously Harms Your Health!!

No, I didn’t get it wrong, it’s “teaching” not “smoking”. I really do have my reasons for this title.


Imagine a firefighter entering a suffocating burning building with no oxygen mask. Imagine a SWAT member carrying a weaponless attack on a group of Cocaine traffickers. Wouldn’t it be suicidal in both cases?

I guess it would.

Now, imagine a teacher working with a big a HUGE group of underachieving students who -despite of the fact that they are expected to read, write and speak in at least two languages – can’t form a simple sentence in their mother tongue, not to mention that some can’t even spell their names! Imagine that even when the teacher realized this, he thought he could still make a difference and have a positive influence on his students’ levels of achievement, as well as on their personal lives.

Well, this was me, and this idea was just stupid! Don’t get me wrong; it’s not that I no longer want to be there for my students in the time of need, it’s just that I learnt that 9 years’ of almost no learning can’t be made up for in 7 and a half months with 8hrs/month of instruction. The idea was stupid in the sense that it yielded results that were the exact opposite of what had been expected. My sleepless nights and hours of delivery didn’t improve much of my students’ levels but it did cause me great health issues.

Here, I need to explain that in addition to my frustrations, my health issues were also directly linked to my tight schedule. I usually taught from 8AM to 12PM and from 1PM to 3PM. This timetable left me with very little time for lunch; I had to go back home, have lunch and return to school within 50 minutes! Therefore, I very often had to eat things that have just come out of the oven. Too hot! OUCH!

Eating unhealthy food, standing and delivering for 6 hours/day and trying to make EVERYONE of my 560 students learn English was my suicidal mission. I was literally killing myself; depressed because of my students low scores and physically sick from those long teaching hours. In short, I was burnt out; physically as well as psychologically.

I’d been leading this sort of life for about 4 months, and then my body couldn’t take it anymore, and that was when I woke up in the middle of the night and vomited profusely. Honestly, I was so afraid. I’d never felt as panicked as I did that night. I thought my soul was being taken out of my body!

Luckily, I made it to the following morning. I didn’t go to school, obviously, and I went to see a doctor. The doctor said I needed to rest and prescribed some medicines. He said I should take it easy and not to work too hard. I nodded in agreement but I didn’t follow his advice to the letter. The doctor gave me a medical certificate that said I had to rest for five days. However, I just stayed at home for two days and decided to resume work when I felt a little better.

I went back to school, and my first session was with a class that was a little difficult to manage. The students were noisy and I was still worried about my health. I told them that I wasn’t in a good shape and that they had to cooperate. The class got quieter for 5 minutes and then it was the same old story all over again! And that was some food for thought.



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9 responses to “Teaching Seriously Harms Your Health!!”

  1. Teacher Ale says :

    I support you completely. Teaching is so exhausting. Sometimes I think that working in a construction site is less demanding. Vacations just help to recover the minimal amount of health to star over.

  2. enchantressamoram says :

    So damn right!!! Since I started teaching, I lost 8 kilos or so. Let alone the severe depression I suffer from, and the insomnia I get prior to their exams as if I’m the one sittinf for them!
    Teaching is a silent killer :s (But I still cannot imagine myself doing anything else)

  3. Teacher Ale says :

    Reblogged this on Teaching PNIEB… ideas and stuff and commented:
    Love this post and the worst part is that some doctors won’t give you sick days unless you are truly on your death bed. A pregnant teacher friend got a horrible cold and got not sick days and the worst part that being pregnant means NO flu and cold medication.

  4. Lynne Diligent says :

    How right this title is!

    In America, if you teach elementary school (or any other class) you are not allowed to leave the children alone even for a SECOND because you are legally liable for anything that happens in the classroom. In one school I taught in, I was warned by the other teachers that there had been a case of a student wadding up a piece of paper into a ball, and when the teacher’s back was turned, they threw it at another student. The corner of that paper caught the white part of the student’s eye, and the resulting infection caused the student to lose their sight in that one eye. Of course, both the teacher and the school were sued.

    I had trouble in America substituting for elementary classes because you are with the students constantly for many hours (including walking them back and forth to other classes). This means that you cannot get out to the bathroom, sometimes for several hours. When I began to ask other teachers about this, I was told, “Yes, elementary teachers are all known for developing serious bladder problems because of this.”

    Whenever you have to teach more that two hours straight without a break (such as 3-4 hours without a break) it really does take a toll on your health. I think teachers have to be careful about their energy, and think daily about how to recharge their own energy, equally as much as teaching the kids!

    • RainDancer says :

      Thank you Lynne,
      I guess American laws are so flawed. How can a teacher or any other person be observing every single kid for extended periods of time? What if it happened when the teacher was writing on the board?

      That sort of accidents can happen anytime, so why blame the teacher? Imagine it happened at home between two brothers, will the parents be sued?? It doesn’t make sense at all! I’d understand if a teacher was sued because he or she did harm a:( kid or encouraged misbehavior and/or bullying, but this… It’s just crazy! 😦

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