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Thursday is 'worst day of the week' for teachers

Build up of pressure and deadlines could be behind teachers recording lowest mood on Thursdays

Forcing teachers to take part in wellbeing activities actually harms their wellbeing, warns Jude Brady

Build up of pressure and deadlines could be behind teachers recording lowest mood on Thursdays

More than one pop song has made the claim that Monday is the hardest day of the week. After all, climbing out of bed after the weekend and heading back into work can be tough.

But for teachers, is Thursday actually the day they dread the most?

That’s the finding of a project by the Girls Day School Trust and Positive Group – a learning provider with expertise in psychology.

In 2016 and 2017, teachers and students from nine schools in the trust’s network took part in a wellbeing programme which asked them to plot their mood and energy levels each day using an “emotional barometer” app.

Teachers' negative data

True to expectations, students recorded most negative data on Mondays – 49.3 per cent of entries were on the negative, left-hand side of their barometer.

However, teachers submitted the highest proportion of negative entries on Thursday, when 37.6 per cent of entries were on the left.

The people behind the project speculated that Thursday is the worst day of the week for teachers because pressure and deadlines have built up, with no prospect of immediate release.

Dr Brian Marien, the co-founder of Positive Group, said: “When presented with these results…the teachers agreed that Thursdays were the most stressful, as they were the most tired with three days of the week already behind them, but one still to come.

“They knew that working at the weekend was most of the time, inevitable, and would mean being more tired. This could be a sign of rumination around negative mood states.”

Exhaustion and pressure

Dr Marien said the findings could help teachers better structure their work and even their lesson planning.

He said the key driver of negative moods was teachers not feeling in control of their workload.

“When looking at why teachers record their mood in the more negative parts of the barometer, it is often to do with exhaustion, the amount of work they have to complete, and feeling the pressure of work.

“However, when they are in positive moods they regularly cite feeling in control of their workload, suggesting that whilst workload is high, if teachers are in control then they are okay.

“It is not workload per se that is the issue, it is the perception of uncontrollability.”

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