Why is wellbeing important for teachers?
Posted: 25th June 2021
We know being a teacher is incredibly rewarding, but it also has its challenges and can be particularly stressful at times. It’s completely normal and healthy to have a certain level of stress, but you might have experienced feelings of overwhelming, out of control anxiety. Perhaps it’s an imminent Ofsted inspection or a lesson observation that gets your mind going into overdrive. Taking care of your own wellbeing is important because it can help with building mental resilience and allowing yourself to release your full potential.
In this blog post, we’ll be covering the following topics:
- What is wellbeing and why does it matter?
- Does teaching affect mental health?
- Are you anxious about an imminent Ofsted inspection?
- How do you ensure staff wellbeing in schools?
- What is mindfulness?
What is wellbeing and why does it matter?
Wellbeing is defined by the Oxford English Dictionary as “the state of being comfortable, healthy, or happy.”
Teacher wellbeing is important to help develop your potential, be productive and creative and more resilient when you face challenges at work. If a school is full of happy, healthy teachers who are delivering really good lessons to their full potential, then the school is more likely to have happy students with good outcomes.
That doesn’t mean that you won’t experience stress, emotional upheaval, and even suffering. However, building your resilience by taking care of your wellbeing can give you the strength you need to overcome the challenges you might experience.
Does teaching affect mental health?
The coronavirus pandemic has undoubtedly put extra stress on many people in many professions. According to a report by educationsupport.org.uk it has thrown up many challenges for education. This has resulted in 52% of all teachers feeling that their mental health and wellbeing has declined either considerably or a little during the Coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.
According to the report, the causes of Teacher stress have been down to a number of factors including a lack of timely government guidance, workload and supporting pupils while maintaining a work/life balance.
The government responded by launching the The Wellbeing for Education Return programme to improve wellbeing in schools. So Teacher wellbeing and School wellbeing are clearly a priority and recognised as an area that needs support and attention.
We may find ourselves in uncertain situations beyond our control, so taking care of ourselves and our wellbeing will help us to accept the unpredictability.
How can teachers improve wellbeing?
There are many things that you can do as Teachers to improve your own wellbeing, your school’s wellbeing and your students’ wellbeing. Perhaps you’re the Head of Wellbeing or Pastoral Care at your school looking for ways to help your team and pupils. Here are just a few ideas to get you started.
Start your day in the right frame of mind
If you wake up feeling a bit anxious, a helpful way of working with this is to simply recognise the thoughts for what they are just thoughts. And if you can, let them move on like clouds against a blue sky. You don’t need to hold onto these thoughts. Switch them to thoughts of gratitude instead.
Journaling might sound like another thing on your to do list. But journaling is actually a really effective way to manage your stress and improve your overall wellbeing. Writing about your experiences, even the stressful ones, can help boost your mood, improve your cognitive abilities and regulate your emotions.
We’ve produced a Wellbeing Journal especially for Teachers with weekly reflections, intentions and doodle pages. It’s so awesome that it even comes with a supporting app so you can listen to guided meditations and power podcasts to help you fill your cup.
Check out the Teacher’s Wellbeing Journal here
ECTs and Trainee Teachers who might be especially anxious about their first year of teaching can also journal their experiences in the journal: ‘My First Year of Teaching. A personal reflection’.
Take 5 minutes a day to practice mindfulness
You might have already practised mindfulness without realising. Essentially it’s about training your mind not to be constantly chuntering away on auto-pilot, or living in the past or future. The benefits of mindfulness are now well evidenced and include increased mental resilience, stress and pain relief, improved concentration and thinking skills, improved sleep patterns and overall well-being. It has significant results in effective treatment of depression. When we’re no longer held back by negative patterns of thought, we give ourselves the opportunity to release our full potential. If you’re not sure where to start, Anxiety UK suggests practising the ‘Apple’ technique as a way to deal with anxiety and worries.
The Teacher’s Wellbeing Journal comes with a handy ‘Teacher Take Five’ app so you can check out guided meditations and listen to inspiring short talks, designed to help you and to take no more than 5 minutes out of your day. Find out more about the app here
Invest in your personal development
Teachers have a hard job! As a Teacher, you’re expected to achieve the highest possible standards in your work, ethic and conduct on a daily basis. ECTs and trainee teachers have to evidence that they’re working in line with the expected teacher standards in order to complete their training. Although this might all seem like more to do, actually personal development helps to improve your self-confidence, which can develop your self-esteem and mental health. Being aware of your strengths and weaknesses will help you to improve as a better Teacher, delivering better classes and results for your students and your school. It could also open up opportunities for progression in your career.
Growing personally and professionally can be done with the help of the Teachers’ Standards Notebook to evidence progression and jot down notes.
Prepare yourself now for your next Ofsted inspection
If the sound of an imminent Ofsted inspection fills you with dread then now’s the time to get prepared. Learning how to respond rather than react, when faced with challenging situations like an Ofsted inspection is something that takes time and practice. Emotional reactions are of normal of course. But they can sometimes be unhelpful!
EducationSupport.org also recognise the stress that the thought of an Ofsted inspection can cause. Check out their top 10 tips to deal with your next Ofsted inspection.
Help your students’ wellbeing
Promoting wellbeing in your classroom can also work wonders for your students. NeuroHeadway are experts in this and provide “ready to deliver” modules that are time saving and include relevant material for teachers. They address everything from mental health and wellbeing issues to cyber bullying and emotional intelligence.
NeuroHeadway and Edubox have created some 10 minute mindfulness exercises that you can try with your class. Designed for children.
Download the mindfulness exercises now.