By Catelyn Di Leva
Executive Opinion Editor
Mira Costa’s Social Emotional Wellness Committee (SEW) hosted its Teacher Fishbowl on Jan. 10 in the small theater, where 11 randomly-selected Costa teachers shared their views on stress and the atmosphere. While the Teacher Fishbowl may seem as if the committee is solely focusing on teacher stress, the Fishbowl is actually a great way to identify the leading causes of stress at Costa in an effective way.
The SEW committee, a group of students, parents, administrators and Costa staff who continously assess the environment at Costa and the leading causes of student stress, held a Student Fishbowl in 2016 for students to share their experiences with common causes of stress. This year junior Erin Pulver asked questions to 11 different teachers about student and teacher stress.
It is important to have a teachers’ perspective on stress because it gives insight that we cannot get from student perspectives. Since teachers’ days consist of differing activities and conflicts than students, it is valuable information that can help find causes and roots of student stress.
According to Manhattan Beach Unified School District Board Member Jennifer Cochran, the Teacher Fishbowl was created in order to hear teacher feedback and see if the teachers give the same or similar feedback that is given from the student’s perspective. The teacher fishbowl is valuable as it gives a different perspective to stress and Costa’s envrionment than this ideally would and can ideally lead to a decrease in student stress, as well as identify what might be improved on campus to combat student and teacher stress and how we can combat stress and how it is approached at Costa.
The SEW committee notified teachers including Lindsey Valbuena, Stacy Cabrera, Nicole Wachell, Teresa Nielsen, Karl Kurz and Michael Hayden that they were selected to participate in the Fishbowl Activity.
The teachers covered topics ranging from healthy levels of stress for both students and teachers, to the commitments students have outside of school that contribute to their stress. It is imperative that teachers acknowledge students’ outside activities because they impact many students and require a lot of students’ time and effort.
According to English teacher Lindsey Valbuena, the teachers wanted to be heard in the discussion of stress and there were some important things that needed to be said. The point of the Fishbowl was not to emphasize that there are no redeeming qualities to Costa, because there certainly are, but to point out that there is stress for all parties involved. The goal of the Teacher Fishbowl, to point out teacher stress in addition to student stress, was well covered and discussed. It is necessary to be attentive to teacher stress including, causes, and how it affects the environment of the classroom.
Teachers hope the Fishbowl provides more insight to teacher stress and their opinions, Valbuena said. It is important to value teacher’s opinions in addition to student’s opinions because it helps gain new insight and addresses new and different aspects to the situation.
As for the results of the teacher Fishbowl, the teachers have very similar opinion’s about the culture and atmosphere of Costa that student’s had, according to Cochran. Cochran also stated that teachers have a great deal of stress working at Mira Costa and while teacher stress may come in a different form than student stress, they are feeling very much the same way. It is crucial to cover teachers stress similarly to student stress and the SEW committee should focus on researching finding the best solutions to the main root causes of student stress, not just identifying the stresses. If the SEW committee continues to create new ways of identifying stress but fails to fix it, it is of no use and will not help.
Student stress is something that the Social Emotional Wellness Committee identified a major concern very early on in the process of diagnosing the root causes of stress at Costa, Cochran said. It is important that we take all perspectives into account as the committee makes recommendations for positive changes around campus that will help identify stress.
According to Fields, the feedback received from the Teacher Fishbowl will be used to inform future decisions in regard to how Costa can foster a healthy, productive, supportive school culture as well as alleviating unhealthy and unproductive stress for both teachers and students. Acknowledging teacher’s input will ultimately bring positive feedback.