We all know teachers are under pressure and stressed. And we’re all familiar with the statistics that show teachers are leaving the profession in droves. What might be a good idea though, is to revisit some evidence-based strategies and ideas that can be implemented to support teachers right now – whether they’re teaching remotely or face-to-face. Teachers might be superhuman with heroic abilities in multitasking and patience, but they’re also human and deserve a healthy work-life balance.
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Some big ideas about teacher wellbeing
Most teachers would love fewer meetings, less administration of the ‘ticking boxes’ variety, more autonomy and, the big one, more time. Time to prepare for classes, communicate with parents, undertake professional development, and even time to eat lunch and go to the loo during the break. While these big-picture ideas might take a culture-wide reboot around education before they can become reality, we need strategies to support teachers now.
Some wellbeing ideas schools can implement now
- There is nothing worse than the feeling you are giving everything you have to a job, but no one is recognising your efforts. Show your staff how much you value their work by setting up a P&C Wellbeing fund to publicly acknowledge teaching staff.
- Ensure all staff are aware of who the Employer Assistance Providers (EAP) are and what services they offer.
- Reclaim the routine. Use school organisational decision making to support increased work-life balance for staff. Schedule some time in the school routine so teachers can take care of themselves, participate in PD or finish admin tasks.
- Teachers are collegiate by nature and research shows that collaborative working relationships and teamwork will build a great workplace culture that will alleviate anxiety for teachers.
- Make sure staff are aware of and able to access the online resources and tools available at HeadsUp, Beyond Blue, and Checkpoint.
Wellbeing tips for teachers from other teachers
Whether you are teaching from home or face-to-face, you still need to prioritise the time to take care of yourself. It can be hard to carve out any time for self-care when your inbox is heaving under the weight of unread emails, lesson planning, anxious kids, and the feeling that you won’t get everything done if you step away from your desk for ten minutes. But it’s important and you deserve it. These are some tips from other teachers that will be helpful – especially for remote teachers.
- Ergonomics are important. Wherever you sit to prepare lessons, mark papers and do your administration, make sure your workstation is set up properly so you are comfortable and avoid injury. Some simple stretches every hour are helpful. No one wants tennis elbow.
- Exercise. Doctors recommend at least 30 minutes five times a week. It will boost your concentration, energy levels and mental clarity. Even just a lap of the block can be enough to put a spring in your step if you’re feeling frazzled in front of your home learning set-up.
- Streamline your parent-comms. If you are currently teaching remotely and feel like you’ve got hundreds of emails from parents, you’re not alone. Research shows regular, quick alerts can help. Sending a quick reminder to parents to give them all the information they need for the day might go some way to alleviating your email load.
- Remember why you teach. One study has shown that ‘participants who thought about their most noble motivations for entering a profession showed smaller increases in stress hormones during a high-stakes meeting’.
Teacher wellbeing is a huge topic and it isn’t possible to cover everything here. What has worked at your school?