What is Teacher Wellbeing? What does it look like? How can we develop a positive sense of Wellbeing? These are all questions any good Headteacher and SLT Team should be asking themselves on a daily basis. After all the wellbeing of your staff is critical if you are to be a creative, productive, resourceful and vibrant school.
Headteachers and leaders face a tough Dilemma in the 21st Century school environment not least because of the demanding pressures teachers face to carry out their roles in schools. If not managed properly teachers face the prospect of overload, burn out, stress, anxiety and depression. The statistics speak for themselves increase in demand on tim, resources and pressure in schools is causing teachers to find a way to improve their own wellbeing. Is it the teachers own responsibility or does some of the responsibility land at the feet of the leaders within the school?
The success of Stress Free Teacher over the last 18mths is simply down to the fact that Teachers and Educators feel over burdened, over loaded and exhausted with the constant demand for change and increase on pressure to meet expectations placed upon them.
So what do we do about the situation? Headteachers and Senior Leaders need to get a hold of what Teacher Wellbeing is all about. What it looks like, feels like and most importantly how they can increase its presence within their schools.
The ill effects of stress on teachers are obvious and easily recognised. A stressed teacher will have increased adrenalin pumping through their body. Their heart rate will be higher than normal, generating high blood pressure as a measurable symptom. They are likely to be more easily agitated, less tolerant, quick to judge and of course feel fatigued and run down. They will often be rushing or at least feel rushed inside. Their body will not be the only mechanism to signal high levels of stress. Their mind will be full, racing and possibly turbulent. Negative thoughts are likely to be rampant and the inner critic is usually at the helm. They will have little or no head space. Their creativity will be stunted and their ability to think clearly will take great effort. Their emotional landscape is potentially in tatters. Self esteem can plummet and low morale is common when teachers are out of balance.
10 Questions the SLT should be thinking about with regards to wellbeing in schools?
- How do you foster wellbeing in your school?
- How do you know what the wellbeing of the staff is like?
- Are you able to measure the wellbeing of your staff and quantify it?
- What do you do in your school to promote teacher wellbeing?
- In what ways does Teacher wellbeing appear on your agenda?
- How do you know if a member of staff is struggling and needs support?
- How do you support those members of staff who appear to be struggling in school?
- What are the reporting arrangements for the school if a member of staff is feeling low in mood, anxious, depressed?
- What systems are in place with external agencies to support staff?
- Do you have a wellbeing policy in place and are all staff aware of what it contains?
I am in danger here of labelling every school with the same brush. This is not the case. Some schools foster a sense of wellbeing right the way across their school in the ethos that exists. Some schools however do not do so well with this hence the number of teachers suffering and turning to external agencies, charity groups such as Education Support Partnership and their local GP’s.