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written & curated by michael grose & the parentingideas team
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18 March

Emotional labour

Submitted by:
Michael Grose
Labour takes many forms. The guy with the hard hat and shovel repairing the road is doing labour. It's physical. It's takes a certain fitness to spend work with a pick and shovel all day.

The writer who spends all day banging away on a keyboard is doing labour. Hammering out great text can be exhausting. It's mentally taxing.

A teacher who spends all day with students and then when they've gone home must deal with parents who have issues they to discuss is doing labour. It's emotional labour.

You need to smile when a parent is rude. You need to bring parents slowly along when really they should agree with your point of view. You need to absorb the inevitable frustrations which come with the parenting territory. When families are small, as they are right now, parents have a lot of expectation invested in just a few children. It makes them fearful when things don't go to plan at school. So we educators must do the emotional work - smile, nod, agree, listen, gently provoke and absorb the mix of emotions that are directed your way.

Emotional labour is the hardest work of all. But just don't tell that to people who don't do emotional labour. The person with the pick and shovel won't appreciate how hard emotional labour can be. It's draining.

It helps if your school recognises the impact that emotional labour can have on you. You need to support each other so you can do the emotional work. You also need to look after your own energy levels to stay fit. Regardless, you need to do the emotional work if you are going to be effective with parents, as well as students. Do the work, it's that simple.
  • development
  • emotional
  • labour
  • parents
  • professional
  • teacher
  • work
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