Supporting Teachers’ Well-being
London Festival of Education
Red Zone – Institute of Education
Saturday 28th February 2015
Panel: Julian Stanley, Sue Roffey and Kathryn Lovewell
How do teachers maintain a healthy work-life balance in an educational context that features the pressures of league tables, accountability, legislative changes, an ever increasing workload and pupils that challenge? Join our panel to discuss how to promote teachers’ well-being. London Festival of Education
The session started with the delegates being asked to spend 1 minute being still; “well-being” and then to share their experiences.
Kathryn talked about her journey as a teacher and being “burnt out” after one year of being a teacher. She emphasised the importance of staff taking care of themselves. Delegates were asked the following:
- How many stayed hydrated throughout the day?
- How many ate nutritional rich food?
- How many consciously chose fresh air during break times?
- How many made time for social connections?
- How many took breaks?
- How many used the toilet when they needed to?
Surprisingly very few hands went up (I counted an average response of 3 for each question). Kathryn then wanted us to reflect on what state we would be in as a teacher, by the end of a day, week and year operating in this way. Apparently we would be emotionally bankrupt by the end of the academic year. However if teachers take care of themselves, then it stands to reason that they would take care of the children that they teach. “Health and Happy Teachers = Happy Kids.”
We operate in a toxic environment where the emphasis is on results, results and even more results. We need to take responsibility for our own well-being. Teacher’s well-being also lies in what we do for each other. Interactions can promote trust, whether or not their is collaboration going on. The quality of psychosocial behaviour is key to well-being. Tiny things make a difference i.e. acknowledgement.
The 24/7 Help line for teachers reports that teachers who call the help line report that they suffer from the following:
- 88% Stressed
- 72% Anxiety
- 45% Depression
Teachers who are experiencing the above emotional difficulties say that it has a knock on effect on their work (there are clear links evidenced between well-being and outcomes), the amount of time they take off work or it results in them leaving the job. The biggest group of callers to the help line are newly qualified teachers. Teachers expect a lot from themselves and are usually reluctant or scared to admit “weaknesses”.
Although we are ultimately responsible for our well-being, you have to ask the question – what is the culture like in the school that some of our teachers work in and how can well-being and mindfulness be incorporated so that teachers remain in the profession?
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- Link to all seven of Tiemo’s LFE 2015 reviews – 28th February 2015
- London Festival of Education programme 2015 – LFE
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