Should teachers be adding a psychological string to their bows?

Should teachers be adding a psychological string to their bows?

The monitoring of mental health and wellbeing is becoming increasingly prominent in society and this process is amplified in the school environment, where teachers are playing a critical role in the lives of students both in and outside the classroom. The prevalence of teachers serving as counsellors and confidants, not only for students but other staff, raises an interesting question: how could a qualification in psychology benefit teachers when it comes to dealing with students and even broadening their own career aspirations?

Teaching is an all-encompassing profession. With a broad range of responsibilities extending beyond the classroom, it has never been a more complex time to be a teacher. The emphasis on mental health in the the workplace is further augmented in a school environment, with the wellbeing of staff and students a major concern.

Teachers are regularly fulfilling their occupational duties but also going above and beyond, lending an ear to students and even other employees on a host of issues. This can be stressful, which lends credence to the concept of teachers becoming better equipped at dealing with such situations in a professional capacity.

One solution is upskilling in a complementary field such as psychology. Psychology affords teachers the opportunity to better understand human behaviour and help their students deal with what they’re going through. It’s also an ideal way to instil a sense of confidence in students that their teacher has the skillset and qualification to comprehend such issues.

Monash Online offers various psychology qualifications, including a Graduate Diploma in Psychology, which could appeal to teachers looking to improve their knowledge of counselling and ability to connect with students. They can then choose to follow up with the Graduate Diploma of Psychology Advanced, a fourth-year course ideal for those looking to diversify into a new career as a Registered Psychologist.

The value of a teacher on staff with a professional skillset that includes psychology is significant on multiple fronts. Aside from the obvious benefit of boosting the support mechanisms for staff and students, a teacher’s newfound expertise in psychology’s application to education could provide opportunities to implement learning strategies and techniques to customise lessons and plan classes based on the individual needs of students. Teachers could also be equipped with a layer of professional development that is also hugely beneficial from a personal perspective.

The scope for enhanced career opportunities is legitimate too. Aside from generally adding a string to their bow, teachers can deviate into alternative roles in the education environment (a wellness officer, for example). These types of positions are becoming more common and valuable to businesses by the day, and schools are no exception.

There’s certainly evidence to suggest that a shift in this direction is warranted. The most recent study conducted by the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) on stress revealed that nearly half (47 per cent) of Australian students feel very tense when they study, the sixth highest on the OECD list of 36 countries. For context, the same metric in the Netherlands was just 14 per cent.

It was a similar story for the measure on students who felt anxious despite feeling well prepared for a test; this was the case for 67.5 per cent of Aussies, which was not only the sixth highest score but well above the OECD average of 55.5 per cent.

Australian students and parents need quality teachers now more than ever and a qualification in psychology could be the perfect way to achieve this goal.

Find out more about enhancing your teaching career by studying psychology online with Monash University.

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