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.