'Teachers are being asked to be Einstein, Mother Theresa and Tony Soprano rolled into one'

Richard Vaughan

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Teachers are being asked to be a combination of “Albert Einstein, Mother Theresa, Martin Luther King Jr and Tony Soprano”, according to the leader of a teaching union in the US.

The comments belong to Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, the second largest teacher union in the US, following a survey of more than 30,000 of her members on workplace stress.

The study showed that the two biggest factors contributing to teacher stress were the adoption of new initiatives without proper training, and the negative portrayal of teachers in mainstream media.

Responding to the results, Ms Weingarten said: “We ask teachers to be a combination of Albert Einstein, Mother Teresa, Martin Luther King Jr. and Tony Soprano.

“We ask them to be Mom and Dad and impart tough love but also be a shoulder to lean on. And when they don’t do these things, we blame them for not being saviours of the world.”

The statement will chime with the majority of teachers in the UK, who feel they are often asked to be an impossible combination of social workers, psychiatrists and surrogate parents as well as teachers.

A survey by YouGov and TES in April showed that more than eight in 10 teachers felt undervalued by wider society, with just over nine out of 10 headteachers saying the same. 

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Richard Vaughan

Richard has been writing about politics, policy and technology in education for nearly five years after joining TES in 2008. He joined TES from the building press having been a reporter and then later news editor at the Architects’ Journal. Before then he studied at Cardiff University’s school of journalism. Richard can be found tweeting at @richardvaughan1

Find me on Twitter @RichardVaughan1

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