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Improving Educator Wellbeing during COVID-19

By Nikki Bonus

Published 25 September 2020 16.04 PM

Improving Educator Wellbeing during COVID-19

Teachers play an important and influential role in the lives of their students, in their families and the community. Their duties and responsibilities extend far beyond meeting learning outcomes, to caring for the social and emotional needs of their students. The pandemic has caused undue stress to families, students, and teachers. We want to help teachers acquire skills to support a regular practice that can sustain and improve their wellbeing as they guide and support their students through this difficult time.

The Impact of COVID-19

Educators are facing numerous challenges during the pandemic: 

  • Shifting to remote learning and preparing staff, students, and parents for remote teaching, keeping schools open from some students and quickly shifting back to lockdown and remote learning when outbreaks occur
  • Supporting students who belong to vulnerable groups facing poverty, who are in stressful family environments, who have special learning needs, who live in remote communities or lack access to basic materials
  • Managing an ever increasing workload while balancing the needs of their own families at home. (For example, some teachers were recording their lessons while their babies slept, others were teaching while multiple children were home.)

The Importance of Educator Wellbeing

Educators are required to multi-task routinely adapting to varying roles as teacher, advisor, mentor, administrator, lesson planner, classroom manager, and support worker. Teaching is both a rewarding, as well as an extremely challenging profession. Teachers’ roles have increasingly become complex, requiring them to work with a diverse student population, an ever-crowded curriculum using limited resources, dealing with parents and community, and still be expected to provide quality learning opportunities for students. In the absence of ongoing training, mentoring and other support mechanisms, high workload levels combined with stressful conditions in classrooms are known to result in emotional exhaustion, burn-out, ultimately leading to teacher attrition from the profession

In addition, teachers’ mental health is strongly associated with the academic and social success of their students. For example, a series of recent studies demonstrated that third grade teachers with elevated depressive symptoms provided lower-quality classrooms, and their students who struggled with math made more limited academic progress than peers in other classrooms (McLean et al., 2018; McLean & Connor, 2015, 2017). Teachers’ mental health can no longer be ignored; teachers should receive support and education to support their wellbeing and help avoid burnout. 

How Can we Turn This Around?To remedy stress, there are practical solutions: ensure the workplace is safe and non-teaching work is delegated as much as possible. Then, help teachers develop those very skills that make teachers inspirational to students: emotionally mature adults who can self-regulate. These skills need to be taught. Life Skills Group runs accredited training specifically for Educators Wellbeing, click here to find out how we can deliver these either in person or remotely.

How does one improve their Wellbeing?

  • Meditate. It doesn’t have to be long. Even 8 mins a day makes a huge difference compared with those who don’t meditate. (Try this meditation by Nikki)
  • Stop the overwhelm. Focus on one thing for a short period of time, and take mini-breaks. Direct your thoughts to improve memory and concentration.
  • Eat well. Poor diets affect one’s emotional balance and overall health. Use eating as an opportunity to practice mindfulness. Switch off all devices; focus on your meal and practice gratitude. 
  • And more than anything, for one week try and make eye contact with everyone you pass, and share a smile. Notice what is activated when you try this practise.

Mindfulness practices, such as meditation, enhance our educators’ (and all of our) abilities to respond to situations with compassion and empathy. This offers tools for teachers who can transmit these benefits to their students and the greater community.

Does your school need a more focussed whole school, evidence based approach to social, emotional and physical learning?

Request more information about our SEL / Wellbeing / Mindfulness programs today, and find out why Life Skills Group are the preferred wellbeing partner of hundreds of schools across Australia! 

Needing some extra help with teaching your student or child Life Skills? Request a quote today and one of our School Wellbeing Advisors will be in touch shortly to help find the best solution for you. Also, don’t forget to connect with us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Join us for our upcoming webinar 7 October, 2020 at 8 PM AEST on strategies to improve your wellbeing and resilience in times of uncertainty.

 



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Nikki Bonus

CEO / Founder Life Skills Group

Nikki Bonus is a change agent on a global frontier aiming to enhance the vital skills of our future leaders. She realized focusing on our future generations teaching social, emotional, and physical learning skills was a real opportunity to make an impact. She is an accomplished presenter and trainer with more than 20 years of experience in the development and delivery of mindfulness, leadership, and wellbeing programs. Nikki comes with raw authenticity and believes that we have a social responsibility to our young people to equip them with the skills to navigate the 21st century. She epitomizes resilience having been out of home by the age of 16. The tragedies of mental health contributed to her brother taking his life at a young age. Her intrinsic motivation is the belief that no matter where you were born, no matter what family you were born into, anything is possible. Her aim is to work in collaboration with governments, school communities to see social-emotional learning as valued as academic performance.Thus, Life Skills Group was founded, out of the heart of a social entrepreneur with a mission to reach all children regardless of socio-economic background. For more than a decade, Nikki’s team of 80 teachers has worked across 600 schools, reaching 500,000 primary school children, to build a continuing evidence base of what works for school communities. In 2018, Nikki founded Life Skills Go: an engaging, interactive, blended learning platform that delivers 100’s of age-based SEL lessons and produces measurable results for teachers to monitor and respond to individual student wellbeing needs.

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