Preliminary Analysis: Stress

Stress

Head Start preschool teachers are stressed. They feel overworked. Their overworking though doesn’t stem from the preschool children. Despite preschool teachers’ issues with the children (discussed in another theme), preschool teachers actually really love working with the children.

Preschool teachers are actually stressed mainly by the amount of paperwork they have to complete. Head Start preschool teachers are expected to do a lot of paperwork, including anecdotals, lesson plans, completing portfolios, USDA forms, leveling the children, taking pictures, documenting artwork, among other things. They are expected to complete all of their paperwork during work hours. The Head Start preschool teachers stated that this is difficult because theoretically they could have time to complete their paperwork during the first and last hour of school and during the hour in which the children are napping. However, the preschool teachers stated that this is impractical in reality, because at least one child is typically there during the first and last hour and at least one child may be awake during nap time, which takes time away from being able to complete paperwork.

Teachers also stated that they either didn’t fully understand why the had to complete certain paperwork or simply didn’t agree that the paperwork was beneficial. The most common piece of paperwork that teachers thought was useless were the anecdotals. They stated that there are other ways of leveling children that take up less time. They also felt slighted by having their anecdotals shredded at the end of the year.

Teachers tended to fall into one of two groups when completing paperwork: either they neglected interacting with the children and completed the paperwork while children are in the classroom or they take paperwork home to complete it. Only a very small minority of those interviewed stated that they were in a classroom where they were able to complete all of their paperwork without neglecting the children (i.e. all of their children slept during nap time each day).

The preschool teachers suggested having specific time off to plan and reflect. Teachers suggested having Fridays off, like half-day Head Starts do, having half days on Fridays, or having an hour off each day in order to complete the paperwork and lesson plans.


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