How to embed teacher wellbeing at your school


How to embed teacher wellbeing at your school

When we think about wellbeing in schools, it’s essential to consider more than just the mental wellness of pupils. Here's how to embed teacher wellbeing at your school


Teachers have one of the hardest but most important jobs in the world. The pandemic, unfortunately, has made it even more challenging.


If teachers’ wellness is recognised and supported, fostering positive and valuable conversations about mental health throughout the school community will be easier.


Miff Martinek, the founder of This Is Me, explains why teacher wellbeing is so important and how school leaders can have a positive impact.


We cover:

  • Why is the wellbeing of teachers important?

  • What does good teacher wellbeing look like?

  • How can school leaders support staff wellbeing?

  • How can my school get involved?





Why is the wellbeing of teachers important?

Ask almost any teacher, and they’ll tell you that, even before the pandemic, they had no time on their hands.


They are busy, busy people. But they’re even busier now.


And they are not only dealing with just the academics of their pupils. They have to wear so many different hats.


Many teachers are supporting their students in a much more pastoral focus. Sometimes, they have to act as social workers, counsellors, and for some, even parents and guardians.


They are the frontline for the wellbeing of young people. Therefore, their wellbeing is absolutely fundamental for a school to operate well.



What does good teacher wellbeing look like?

If you’re looking for one absolute perfect model of what good teacher wellbeing looks like, well, there isn’t one.


Every teacher, every individual needs wellbeing to look different for them.


For me, it might be long walks with my dogs, or it might be making sure I’m doing something productive every day. But for other people, there are different priorities in place.


And for all of us, what we need can fluctuate from day to day or week to week.


We need to have the space and the opportunity to be individuals whilst being part of the school community.


The one constant that every teacher and staff member needs is to be recognised for their value to others.


To nurture wellbeing as much as possible, schools should actively demonstrate that every teacher is a valued member of a really vital team. And then give them the time and space to look after their wellbeing and do whatever is needed to support them in that.



How can school leaders support staff wellbeing?

With all of the other responsibilities school leaders have, we know that looking after staff wellbeing might seem like a daunting task.


Fortunately, there are three things that school leaders can focus immediately focus on.


Time

The first one is optimising the time that they are spending with teachers.


We know you’re busy and that all your time and meetings are valuable. But so many meetings don’t necessarily result in positive outcomes for the wellbeing of those in the room.


So look at the time you spend with teachers, such as during appraisals and meetings, and think about the structure for how you spend that time. Use those moments together to check in on how someone is doing and make sure they feel valued.


That can be a key part of improving their wellbeing.


Support

The next thing to look at is the structure for providing support and feedback.


There is a great opportunity for every school to look at who is supporting whom within your teaching staff.


It might not be realistic to have one senior leader individually supporting all of the teachers. But there has to be some form of network that allows teachers to support one another.


Another way to increase that support is to have a structure in how they converse with each other. Encourage them to check in with each other and ask about each other’s general mental wellbeing.


Finally, there needs to be an opportunity for feedback, but constructive and helpful feedback that can help move teachers’ wellbeing forward.


Recognition

The last thing school leaders can focus on is recognising wellbeing in the discussions that you’re having.


Having structured meetings in place, recognising the value of your teachers, and talking and investing in their time and development are the first steps.


If you’re doing those, you also need to openly recognise that wellbeing should be a topic on every agenda.


When leaders and staff members recognise that wellbeing, check-ins, and support are a vital part of their discussions, then they can comfortably have those conversations without feeling like it’s prying or going too far.


It just becomes another part of your role as a leader.



Ultimately, if you can get these three things in place, you will have teachers who are better equipped to support your students and better equipped to look after their own wellbeing.


I can guarantee that no student will talk to a stressed-out teacher to tell them that they’re struggling or having a hard time.


If school leaders can’t encourage or support the wellbeing of their teachers, it will be that much harder to do it for their students.



How can my school get involved?

Whether you’re interested in adapting the wellbeing approach that you currently take for your teachers, or you would like to introduce a model that will show how much you value your team, then I would love to hear from you.


If you want to explore how pupil mentoring can improve wellbeing in your school within the Hereford and Wiltshire area, I'd love to hear from you.



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