THE other day, a teacher-friend posted on her Facebook account a photo of a van with a caption “apprehending teachers who do not submit paperwork on time.” I laughed, then laughed again. I imagine two tall people coming out of the van trying to handcuff me and seeing familiar faces inside. Accomplishing paperwork requires patience, perseverance, and organization skill. There is a saying that goes “what does not kill you makes you stronger.” I believe this saying is very much applicable in doing paperwork too.
Many research findings point out paperwork as one of the primary sources of stress among teachers. Recently, the DepEd central office conducted an investigation on the suicide of a teacher which was allegedly caused by the overwhelming paperwork she had to accomplish in a short period given the limited resources in the area. Many teachers even associate paperwork with the rising health problems of teachers today. Aside from the stress of dealing with the learners, doing paperwork required by the central office contributes to stress that triggers various health problems. It is good to visit school faculties today to understand this case. Teachers are lock in their tables facing tons of papers. There are lots of documents to be passed and reviewed. The expectation of having an error-free document adds to the pressure they face. Posted on the faculty wall are reminders of the submission date, the famous deadline dates. Teachers check the calendar and they are shock to find out that the deadline are few days away. Then they see the word “dead” on deadline.
Teachers are mandated by DepEd to do paperwork and to submit them on time. This has become part of the job so I think it is good to include a course lesson about paperwork accomplishment on education degrees to prepare teachers to the real job. Teaching in the elementary and secondary education is, I believe, 30 percent teaching, 35 percent management of learners and their environment, and 35 percent doing paperwork. The Open High School Program (OHSP) is a modular type of learner-instruction. There is a minimal teacher-learner interaction. Teachers guide the students in finishing their modules. Teachers spent most of the time doing paperwork such as formulating and developing modules aligned to the needs of the learners and the competencies of the curriculum, checking modules, and recording them. Teachers also record students’ profiles and other pertinent information required by the program. If you do not know how to cope with stress caused by paperwork, perhaps the program may not be best for you. I had to take home the modules of my grade 10 learners last Friday, March 15, so I can give their grade on the following Monday, March 18.
March, I presume, is the paperwork month for teachers. This is basically the closing of the school year and all necessary documents must be done and submitted. There are various heads of departments who would give teachers a heads up regarding the accomplishment of paperwork. So teachers are all lock in. Busy is perhaps the best word. Do not be surprised if most of them have shorter temperament or a low tolerance these days. They just have many things in mind to do. Do not be surprised too to see teachers outside the school having lunch out or trying to steal some fun with friends. It is just some of the many ways to keep themselves alive from all the paperwork being done in the office. I think it is also good to be lenient to teachers who want to go out from school to cope. They may not be wasting their time, they may just try to re-energize to work again.
In the context of teachers, what makes paperwork difficult is not the work itself, but its volume. For instance, they have to make a record for 250 students. Sometimes when an input is mistakenly done, they have to do it again. It is really stressful but once they survive it, the saying is also true, it makes the teachers stronger. It gives them a sense of confidence. It gives them a sense of fulfillment. They may go home tired but with a sense of pride because after all those difficulties, they have done their job well. Then they watch news to see if the politicians are talking about salary increase (kidding aside).
Paperwork is an inherent part of the teaching job. There are no school staff delegated to do all those works. So teachers must accept this reality to lessen the difficulty in accomplishing them. There are strategies to be done to lessen the stress in doing them and the administration must understand them since they know the difficulty as well. Doing paperwork is not all negative. It makes teachers acquire skills like organization skills, it makes them become attentive to details, and of course they will know about their students more. The government can help too, perhaps, through a salary increase?