We’re very lucky in the UK to have so many talented, passionate and driven teachers. These professionals, who have invested great effort, time and money into their professional training and teaching qualifications, dedicate their careers into equipping our children with the skills and knowledge they need to have rich, fulfilling lives. In our blog, we’ve talked at length about how to support students with their mental health and wellbeing – but it’s also important to remember that teachers are people too! How can they be best supported in maintaining their own wellbeing? How can we prioritise teacher mental health?
Spotting the Signs: Are teachers starting to struggle?
Having a rough day (or even a rough week) is awful, but a normal part of life. Sometimes pressures can get the better of us and start to fray our patience; but when does the ebb and flow of stress become a wellbeing problem? These are some of the key factors to watch out for in yourself and others:
Are you finding it harder and harder to focus when you need to?
Is your sleep becoming disturbed? Are you finding that your appetite is changing?
Do you find yourself becoming irritable and impatient?
Are you experiencing low-mood for long periods of time?
These are just a few examples that can provide a warning sign of a wellbeing problem.
Teaching can be a very demanding job, from managing bad behaviour to extensive lesson planning and marking – it’s likely that working hours are extended beyond what is originally expected, and difficult situations with parents or inspectors can be a trigger that can turn struggling into freefall. These are some of the key stressors linked with the teaching profession that are worth thinking about when trying to measure teacher wellbeing:
Workplace demands: Are behavioural problems in the classroom or added administrative pressures causing stress?
Autonomy: It’s very important that teachers are able to adapt their working styles and timetables to suit their natural rhythm. Micromanagement and over-bearing managerial styles can cause problems.
Support Structures: Do teachers have a place to go and someone to talk to if things become difficult? If not, unaddressed problems can begin to snowball quickly.
Relationships: How is the teacher being supported by senior staff? How are issues with parents or colleagues being addressed?
Managing Stress and Promoting Wellbeing
It’s an unfortunate reality that stress is ever-present in our daily lives, but that doesn’t mean that we’re powerless to tackle it! After identifying some of the key risk factors and warning signs of poor wellbeing among teaching staff, how can we work to improve it?
Creating a caring culture.
Recognising the importance of mental and emotional well-being in all levels of an organisation is critical in creating a culture where staff who are struggling can open up and seek help. This begins at induction and training and continues into policy and a teacher wellbeing diary.
Keeping abreast of the wellbeing of your staff.
One of the great benefits of creating a caring culture is helping staff feel empowered and supported in reporting problems. Maximise this benefit by regularly surveying staff, and raising wellbeing in review sessions.
Keeping an eye on increasing workloads.
If an inspection is looming, or exam season is around the corner – the pressure will be on for everyone. Make sure you think about robust support mechanisms to help your staff keep on top of things, and make sure they know where to go if they need help!
These are just a few ideas to help bring wellness into the mainstream fold in schools – if you have any others to add please get in touch!
Looking for other ideas? Take a look at our blog!