When teaching becomes too much

By Sarah RaparoliLex Kleren Switch to German for original article

During the pandemic, much was said – and rightly so – about the impact on the mental health of children and young people. But what about teachers and staff in the socio-educational field? About stress, pressure and resilience in everyday work.

People are talking about a great dissatisfaction in the social sector. At least that is what letters from readers, which are submitted at regular intervals and published in the press, testify: The workload is too intensive, and the youngsters can no longer be given the time they need. Or as one interviewee emphasised in an interview with Lëtzebuerger Journal in January: "It's just mass processing [in a drop-in centre] and the individual child no longer has any value."

May started her professional career in the social sector as an "aide-éducatrice" (educational assistant), recently passed her bachelor's thesis and is now an "éducatrice spécialisée en accompagnement psycho-educatif" (special educator for psychoeducational accompaniment). The mid-20-year-old works in after-school care in a larger structure, as she points out. "During the lunch break, we look after around 150 to 160 children." During peak hours from 12 to 2 pm, 20 people from the staff are present to ensure that the lunch break runs without any major incidents, as she explains. "The lunch breaks are challenges, " May says. "We have most of the children with us at the same time, which makes it difficult to do educationally valuable work. I'm more looking to see if everything is working out than to work intensively with the children." She clears her throat briefly. "Sometimes I tell myself that everything went well, sometimes I think to myself, 'What just happened?'" Neither for her nor for the children is this a pleasant situation, she stresses. May's description therefore partly matches the statement made at the beginning.

Her daily work routine was tiring, especially in the beginning, she remembers. "Often it was too much, too intense. After an hour, I was exhausted … but you get used to it." Nevertheless, she admits that she sometimes forgets what she and her colleagues do every day, because "we also have employees who come to support us only during lunch breaks. They tell us how hard it is, and that reminds us what we really have to do".

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