In October of this year, we celebrated 24 years since the creation of the first World Teacher’s Day. It is a time to celebrate the great contribution our teachers bring to our students’ wellbeing and implicitly to our societies. However, as far as their wellbeing is concerned, UK studies demonstrate that teachers’ wellbeing and mental health has a direct impact on their lessons as well as on their relationships with the students. As many as 90% of teachers testified that when they’re going through a rough patch emotionally, their tolerance level lowers, they pick on negative behaviour and the quality of their explanations drops.
What can we do about it? Here are 10 issues teachers face and some possible solutions:
1–Teachers’ workload! Could default work schemes and lesson plans help eliminate unnecessary workload? There are lots of articles which speak in favour of such practices.
2–Effective line management. The word ‘effective’ is key here and by it we mean respect, further development, support and rewards. How important the last word is and how often it is forgotten!
3–Managing expectations. Many teachers need more than the few induction days given when starting in a new school. They need to feel confident in themselves, in the system and in their abilities to navigate within.
4–Relationships. Healthy staff relationships, clear boundaries of acceptable unacceptable practices and providing support when managing relationships with parents are all crucial- especially when that happens outside their cultural norms. Leadership- teachers relationships based on support, mutual respect and especially encouragement and recognition of one’s work.
5–Actively seeking your staff’s wellbeing. This can be done via tests and face to face talks. Anonymous consultations via a qualified organisation can provide valuable feedback to management which they can use to create solutions.
6–Parents’ power. This study has found that parents can add to teachers’ stress, especially due to the power of social media. Perhaps schools can offer parents a place to talk about things and teach them how to speak to teachers and how to collaborate with them in the best interest of their children?
7–Ofsted/inspections. The above article cites this as a major cause of stress due to increased admin work, classroom observations, Ofsted specific extra work, and just feeling under ‘threat’ in case something does not go according to the plan.
8–Social and cultural factors. Teachers move across the continent and their sole ground is the British system. Everything else outside the school, as well as within the school when it comes to admin staff, parents and children of different cultural background, might come to them as a surprise. No books can prepare you for that, but a school with adequate support and a fluid system of communication on such matters can help a great deal.
9–Work conditions. Timetables, number of hours, adequate classrooms, technology, resources, assessment criteria, a school’s vision, professional development, finances, etc. These are all factors which can either retain teachers or make them leave at the earliest possibility.
10–Rewards. Gym membership, on premises chill-out rooms, welcoming boards, an easy to read guide to their new school and ‘home’, cultural trips, and incentives such as on this list are all things that can help teachers’ wellbeing.
What would you add to the above list? Please put your comments below- we would love to see them.