Helpline for Teachers
On 14th May 2007 a new practice was put into life in Poland, a project initiated by the ZNP and carried out in cooperation with the Higher Education School in Warsaw. A national telephone helpline was set up for teachers facing various difficulties at school. It should be underlined that the actions are not taken at the level of schools, but at the level of particular teachers interested in receiving professional help and support.
The hotline called “Infolinia dla Wychowawcy” (Infoline for a Class Tutor) refers to anonymous, free of charge consultations targeted at teachers, and to a smaller extent at pupils’ parents, dealing with different stressful situations and troublesome students at school. The project is supposed to help, in particular, teachers to understand the scope of a problem they are faced with, to share their doubts and anxiety with professional educators and psychologists, who have undergone special training courses to be able to provide such help, to exchange opinions and to find a solution to the problem in question.
Different cases are discussed and particular attention is paid to pupils considered to be a source of educational problems to the teacher, in other words pupils taking drugs, being victims or perpetrators of violence and suffering setbacks at home.
Professional advisors equipped with knowledge and interpersonal relations skills operating the first national helpline for teachers in Poland listen attentively to their interlocutors, provide advice, answer questions on educational problems arising in educational establishments. Their work aims at eliminating problems related to violence, insults, gossip, physical abuse, theft and destruction of personal belongings, which constitute a source of teachers’ difficulties in managing school classes and delivering education to pupils. The experts suggest preventive measures which, as far as possible, should be taken by teachers in order to put an end to their troubles. The project is designed above all to eradicate stress teachers are exposed to at school and to prevent violence in Polish schools by providing teachers with real support.
It suffices to dial 0 801 800 967 to be able to discuss any problems corresponding to school life with professionals in a cosy and discreet atmosphere. The helpline is open from 17.00 to 19.00 on Monday and Thursday. The advice is given free of charge. The overall cost of a call amounts to 0,29 PLN without VAT irrespective of connection time.
The great importance of the already mentioned initiative is attributable to the fact that the helpline is supposed to prevent violence at school, which is a source of concern for teachers. The research carried out in 2006 by CBOS (Public Opinion Research Center) at the demand of a Social Campaign “School without violence” provides alarming results. It turns out that school violence embraces insults (experienced by 44% of pupils during the school year 2005/2006), spreading gossip (31%), jostling (29%), assaults (8%), destruction of personal belongings (105), theft of money or objects (14%) and extortion (3%). The situation seems to be much more hazardous if we realize that Polish teachers cannot count on professional help (but for the helpline). In other words, help is possible to be obtained but hardly available. The data speaks for itself – there is only 1 counselor per 364 teachers and 1 inspector per approximately 40 schools. Moreover, there are barely any training courses or workshops available.
The Helpline seems to be an excellent solution that fills in the gaps in the education sector. There is no denying that initially the project was centred upon pupils rather than teachers but the truth is that teachers can turn to specialists for help concerning any difficulties, including their emotional frame, psychological and physical well-being.