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9 Practical Ways to Improve Teacher Wellbeing


It can sometimes seem like the buzzword ‘teacher wellbeing’ is thrown about a lot in today’s educational environment. However, it can be all too easy to dismiss wellbeing as desirable rather than essential. In between lesson planning, marking, running after school activities and a full timetable, it can be hard to find the time to even think about teacher wellbeing, let alone put any steps into action.

Yet, as noted by the Education Support Partnership, employee wellbeing is an important factor when it comes to quality, performance and productivity in the school workplace. Eventually, poor teacher wellbeing will have a knock-on effect for student education. A stressed or ill teacher will not perform to the best of their ability and therefore will not be delivering the very best lessons for their pupils.

Here are 9 practical ways that schools can help to improve teacher wellbeing:

1) Manage communication. How many times have you sent an email the second something pops into your head, regardless of the time of day? While it may be tempting to send work emails in the evening or weekends, these out-of-hours emails can place unnecessary pressure on staff who feel that they too should be available via email 24/7. 

Send emails at reasonable times and ban sending emails at the weekends. Discourage staff from having work email accounts on their personal phones/laptops unless they want to. When they leave school each day it is time to rest in order to maintain a high professional standard. 

2) Create a welcoming staff room. Teaching can feel like a lonely and overwhelming job at times, and it’s important that staff have somewhere to escape. Make the staff room a relaxed, comfortable and open area and offer healthy snacks, treats, hot drinks and a large table so staff can eat together. Finding the time to relax with colleagues and taking a real break from the classroom is important.

3) Book mindset and relaxation classes. Offering feel good activities and classes, such as yoga, pilates, relaxation sessions and massages is a great way for staff to relax. Staying active is also a great boost for wellbeing. 

4) Organise community events. Why not run a school BBQ and invite staff, students and parents/carers? You could also run themed days and get the pupils involved! Linking happiness to the wider school community can be an enjoyable and rewarding way to boost wellbeing.

5) Discourage perfectionism. The desire to be perfect can be overwhelming and cause unnecessary pressure. We work best when we feel alert and focused – which won’t happen if you’re tired from staying up late working the night before! Staff should take the time to celebrate what they have done well instead of just reflecting on the things that haven’t gone quite as planned. 

6) Have an open door policy. Create an environment where staff feel that they can talk openly about stress and workload problems. Stress is often the reason for employee absence and can lead to demotivated staff who are disengaged and do not enjoy their jobs.  

7) Offer flexible working where possible. Are there options for flexible working in your school? If staff are unable to leave early on the odd occasion that they have an important appointment then stress levels will build from a clash between personal life and working life, which could result in lower working standards. 

8) Introduce a mentor system. Having a workplace buddy gives staff a dedicated individual who they can talk to, share issues with and work through problems together. Create a mutual support network where staff can work towards solutions as a team.

9) Offer CPD and training opportunities. Learning new things can help to make staff feel more confident, whether that’s by taking on a different responsibility at work or by rediscovering an old interest. Training can help improve job satisfaction, wellbeing and resilience. 

It is important to continually measure staff wellbeing throughout the year. You could send out a staff survey once a year to ask for feedback in the above areas and ensure that staff remain anonymous to encourage them to answer honestly. An action plan can then be put in place in your school to address any issues that arise through the survey. 

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Sources:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/five-ways-to-mental-wellbeing

https://www.educationsupportpartnership.org.uk/looking-after-teacher-wellbeing

https://youngminds.org.uk/resources/school-resources/caring-for-the-wellbeing-of-teachers-and-school-staff/

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