Being a teacher in today’s world, what are the challenges to well-being and mental health?

Teaching is a practice where commitment, dedication and advocacy are essential. It is a profession dedicated to training others. Over time, the teacher’s personality and work changed in different ways until it reached the present day, The post-pandemic era in which society faced various challenges required the implementation of new technologies and methods.

Currently, there is a complex adaptation process in terms of working methods of transmitting and receiving knowledge, The transition from virtual reality to in-person presence through a “hybrid” model that is not fully defined and that has caused uncertainty in teaching practice and in the student community and society in general.

With the aim of highlighting the importance of teachers’ mental health in facing the challenges of this adaptation process at all levels of education, during the sixth session of the “Q&A Forum 2023, Let’s Speak Clearly”, organized and moderated by Dr. Ingrid Vargas Huecochea, Research Coordinator in the Department of Psychiatry and Mental Health ( DPSM) at the UNAM Faculty of Medicine, and is broadcast on YouTube. The topic “Being a teacher in today’s world, what are the challenges to well-being and mental health?” was raised, with specialists explaining the implications for readjusting to personal life after the pandemic.

“One of the most important tasks we do as good teachers is… Generate empathy with our students. We are a team in and out of the classroom, and as your mentor I support your growth.“, commented Dr. Astrid Huitron, Master in Health Institution Management and Professor at the University of the Valley of Mexico, who also spoke about the situational differences and technological resources between public and private schools, which reflects a great challenge for education. In addition, he shared his feeling during the first virtual classes: “I was afraid of Not knowing how to use the platforms or not doing it correctly; I felt pain, anxiety and uncertainty not knowing if my students were receiving the knowledge I wanted to impart, but this experience allowed me to implement techniques and games applied to learning to interact remotely with my students.

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Olivia Espinosa, DSc in Health Sciences Education, professor at the UNAM Faculty of Dentistry, shared her vision of what it means to be an educator in 2023: “We have moved from being transmitters of knowledge to brokers of knowledge; we not only worry about selecting information that will be useful to students, but we also understand its context.”

She added that a good teacher is the one who guides, supports and accompanies the student in developing his personal and academic skills: “As a trainer of coaches, I realized that confronting the negative effects resulting from the pandemic is in our hands.” , From our position as teaching guides, we must understand each other, shake hands from teacher to teacher, from teacher to student, and vice versa. When empathy is practiced, everything flows better.

“We asked ourselves about our work to redefine the ‘soul’ of teaching and create a definition for myself as a teacher through social, philosophical, cognitive and emotional constructs.”“, said psychiatrist Luis Manjarrez, Head of the Academic Section of the Department of Medical Specialties of the Postgraduate Department and Bachelor’s Professor of Neuroscience at the UNAM Faculty of Medicine.

In turn, he expressed that the teaching profession is currently going through a restructuring phase, because during and after the pandemic there were simultaneous crises in which the needs of teachers appeared, and he pointed out that “according to various studies, About 30 to 40 percent of teachers showed symptoms of emotional syndromes as a result of the changes and adaptations caused by this situation..

For her part, pedagogical development teacher Graciela Fragoso, a basic education teacher in secondary school and deputy principal of the Technical Secondary School 224 “Hermenegildo Galeana”, shared her experience as a teacher at this level: “During the pandemic we have witnessed a very complex situation in terms of new teaching methods. Technological tools have not As was thought, the lack of resources, as well as the lack or lack of understanding of what is happening, It generated a lot of fear, and even though we teachers did the best we could with what we had, the educational gap got worse,” he said, recalling the frustration he felt during this period.

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For this reason, he considers that “one of the best strategies is to know each student’s learning processes, learn how to negotiate with them, and commit to communicating and interacting with the students.” Reaching a middle point to work on the same goal, as the relationship between the student and the teacher positively or negatively affects academic results.

This was indicated by science teacher Elsa Aguirre, professor at the UNAM Faculty of Medicine “A teacher is a human being, a person with specific needs, interests and characteristics, who fulfills multiple roles, so it is important to take into account the challenges and tasks that each of us faces.”

He also mentioned that his current work as a university teacher is in a constant search for a balance between the teaching process based on professional skills and compensation for the situations, both personal and in the students’ context, that arise along the way. “We have to take advantage of the opportunities and tools that the distance education model has left us, “We become aware of the cognitive and emotional characteristics of each group of students and, above all, we remain open to learning and paying attention to the way we feel,” he concluded.

Written by L. Xechel Diaz

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