Teacher well-being is the hottest new topic in education. It’s strange to think how and even why this has only just recently become such an important matter. I mean, shouldn’t teachers’ well-being go without saying? Shouldn’t teachers’ well-being be number one on the priority list, as they are the ones who are educating future generations? It only takes the slightest bit of common sense to understand that happy, healthy teachers, will shape happy and healthy learners.
No individual can perform well in an environment that is draining, exhausting, over-demanding and badly paid. Unfortunately, relentless changes in our education system demand for teachers to make the impossible possible, by constantly changing the goal post. To back this up, eye-watering statistics by TeacherToolkit state that many teachers have considered leaving their job, and a bit less than half of those asked, have seriously considered leaving the profession altogether. In addition, teachers’ biggest concern is the workload which is constantly increasing, followed very closely by the concerns of lack of pay, in relation to the demands of the job and the added workload. It is not surprising then, that the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL) found that 55% of teachers asked, said that work pressure is having detrimental effect on their mental well-being.
With those statistics in mind and many more of the like, teachers’ well-being is being flagged red and is becoming an issue that should be addressed by all, to avoid teacher burnout. Many schools are now looking for ways to care for their staff members and are searching for strategies that will ensure the well-being of their teachers.
Below are some simple steps schools can take to do just this.
- Reduce unnecessary workload on staff by cutting down on unnecessary meetings. If it can be said in an email, skip the meeting.
- Praise and recognise members of staff in the school. A shout out board can help with staff motivation and fostering an appreciative environment.
- Provide free tea and coffee.
- Have an inviting, tidy staff room, an area where a teacher can sit and unwind. Have comfortable seats such as sofas and a relaxing atmosphere.
- Have a CPD library that teachers can go to, to further develop in areas and get inspired.
- Have some magazines and newspapers that help relax and get their minds off teaching for a bit.
- Allow teachers to have a proper break by handing over break duties to those with less teaching responsibilities within the school i.e. assistants, parents, dinner ladies, or other members of staff.
- Invest in teacher training and follow through with realistic action plans that everyone is aware of.
- Have a yoga/pilates/exercise class for those who are interested.
- Have clear expectations and avoid last-minute changes.
- Give them a pay rise.
- Avoid super detailed lesson plans that even OFSTED doesn’t want to read.
- Nurture an open community where thoughts and ideas are shared openly in meetings and avoid “telling off” or passing the blame on others.
- Share responsibility and accountability with everyone concerned.
- Keep to email time constraints, within school hours. Do not expect teachers to be available 24/7.
- Plan to get together outside of school to celebrate and have fun together.
- Emphasise the growth mindset and the power of not yet for teachers to embrace it, not just pupils.
This is not a be-all and end-all list , but just a few ideas that any school can take on, to look after their teachers. Teachers cannot be expected to promote and teach well-being and positive practices if they are not doing it themselves. It is important that they feel valued. Research has found connections between student and teacher well-being (Roffey, 2012) and a positive, mentally healthy and well-supported staff will allow for better relationships and connection with their students, reduction in sick days and performance management issues.
It sounds like a win-win to me! What do you think?
Does your school cater for teacher well-being? If so, leave a comment below and share with us how.
Till next time…