Improve Your Teacher Health and Wellbeing
Even before the global pandemic, teacher wellbeing was a significant point of interest. However, the wellbeing of teachers was made all the more prominent during the pandemic. Teachers had to face many different situations they may not have been used to, including the challenge of school closures and teaching in different learning environments, such as hybrid or virtual formats. Indeed, in 2020, ISC research found that 61% of education professionals said they struggled to cope with the demands of their job once a week or less. International teachers are often away from their native homes and not being able to visit family and friends may have presented difficulties for many.
Even now, the result of school closures and lockdowns has meant teachers face an education emergency, with some students evidencing major learning gaps that they are busily remedying. With all this change and reaction activity, we must observe the remarkable work teachers have tirelessly continued to do to ensure children keep learning.
Reviewing the support we give to Teachers’ wellbeing
Now that we are largely recovering from the pandemic, it is essential we adopt and evolve practices to support teacher wellbeing and undertake a major review into how we can improve how we are helping with this. Research indicates that teachers are the most significant influence in shaping student achievement. Similarly, Health Scotland has released a report on teacher wellbeing that states, “teachers’ mental health and wellbeing is important for the social and emotional wellbeing of their pupils.”
Therefore, the need to support teachers’ wellbeing is clearly evident. However, as we support teacher wellbeing, we must consider “wellbeing” as a holistic entity rather than focusing on just stress and burnout. Teacher wellbeing is multidimensional and considers teachers’ job satisfaction, professional growth and relationships, their experience of positive emotions, how they balance their role as a teacher and their life outside of this role, and their self-efficacy.
Creating a workplace culture at school where mental health blossoms is highly important and does not necessarily need to be complex. Bearing all this in mind, we’ve provided some practical tips and recommendations to support you with creating a culture of appreciation and positivity at your school that focuses on teachers’ wellbeing.
Operate with an open-door policy
It is highly important to listen to teachers and build an environment where they feel they can discuss any workload and stress issues openly. Stress can lead to disengagement and demotivation. ISC research indicates that 61% of teachers said they struggle to cope with the demands of their job once a week or less. Therefore, school leaders should adopt a culture where members of staff feel confident to discuss any difficulties openly. Ask teachers to operate an open-door policy and encourage them to ask each other for help. Ensure they are able to speak to senior members of staff about any concerns; support networks are vital in reducing stress.
Promote Teacher Wellbeing by Demonstrating their value
A report mentioning the U.K. government by the charity Education Support found that only 15% of teachers and education staff felt appreciated by the U.K. government during the pandemic. Therefore, appreciation is clearly an area we could improve.
To ensure teachers do not feel undervalued in the workplace, which can lead to demotivation, consider how you can show teachers how much you appreciate them. Reward their achievements and thank them for any hard work. Acknowledge and engage with every teacher individually and celebrate growth and achievements wherever possible. Not only this, even asking teachers for their ideas is important to make them feel heard and understood.
Offer and promote Continuous Learning
As schools are learning cultures by nature, it’s important to allow your teachers to continue their learning for their professional development. In an international teaching and learning OECD report, 94% of teachers attended at least one professional development activity in one year. This proves that professional development is a popular and well-utilized area. Continue to ensure all staff attend professional development opportunities and see if you can offer resilience training or mindfulness training to support their mental health. When we learn continuously, we feel more positive and build confidence. Not only this, but training can also help improve job satisfaction, wellbeing, and resilience.
Promote more equality with a work-life balance
Time can be a huge issue for many teachers as they find the demands of their job difficult to balance. In Education Support’s 2020 Teacher Wellbeing Index, 74% of teachers and education staff said an inability to switch off from work is the major contributing factor to a poor work-life balance and 20% of a teacher’s workload is completed outside of school hours. This proves that ensuring there is support in place for creating a more equal work-life balance is important.
To support this, you can ensure small practices, such as making sure all members of staff have adequate breaks and time to eat their lunch, are put in place. You could also encourage teachers to share lesson plans and be able to adapt them slightly for their own use. This will save time organizing lesson work.
Encouraging teachers to change their state of mind when they get home and do physical exercise is another tip. Offering feel-good activities outside of school, such as yoga or a boot camp, is a good way for staff to unwind. Being active is ideal for releasing positive endorphins and has been proven to lower stress levels.
Undertake a teacher health and wellbeing audit
Another useful initiative to improve teacher wellbeing at school is conducting a wellbeing audit. An audit will be a great indicator for your teachers’ current level of wellbeing and will be ideal for giving you a broader picture of where your staff want to be with their wellbeing and how they think they can get there.
One way to conduct an audit is to set up a survey that can be sent to all staff members that includes a number of both open and closed questions. The different question styles will allow your teachers to explain their opinions and give you a wider indication of their thoughts. Utilize the feedback, review it and then communicate this anonymously to staff and outline what you will do to support them. It is worth conducting an audit regularly to foster open communication, review wellbeing activity, and address any new issues.
Educate yourself about teacher health and wellbeing
In schools, senior leaders are the people who usually have the power to set the tone for the school culture and it’s values. Senior leads should undertake training and gain information to acquire the knowledge and skills needed to develop an effective whole-school approach to mental health. A good place to gain more knowledge is through educational talks and seminars. This TED Masterclass discussion considers teacher wellbeing and explores the difficulties that are currently being faced by teachers. This is a great place to start and gain more valuable insight into educator wellbeing.
Teacher mental health and wellbeing are extremely important, and we should do our best to ensure every teacher is supported with improving it. ISC research indicates that 73% of teachers considered COVID-19 as a significant challenge that increased their stress and “tipped the balance of the equilibrium model of wellbeing.” We must do all we can to reverse this and ensure the workplace culture that teachers experience is one that fully considers every single educator’s wellbeing.
If you’re interested in how you can further support teacher wellbeing, one of our blogs contains information on how you can support teacher anxiety, particularly during testing season.
Questions about teacher health and wellbeing
What can schools do to support teacher wellbeing?
Schools can begin to support teacher wellbeing by analyzing how the school’s climate, social interactions, and teachers’ individual actions all impact it.
Why is teacher wellbeing important?
Supporting your teachers’ wellbeing is highly important. It’s crucial to ensuring teachers are happy, positive, and their teaching skills are effective.
How to improve teacher wellbeing?
There are many ways to improve teacher wellbeing that can be successful. Improving physical fitness, offering volunteering opportunities, and improving social cohesion at school are some of the ways teacher wellbeing can be supported.