School counselors have a significant responsibility to help young people recover from the traumas of the last year and ongoing events, and school leaders should put their own well-being first.
There’s no denying, however, that the disruption to the school year is putting a strain on all teachers. Even in more normal circumstances, teachers face stressful and burnout conditions like overcrowded classrooms, long hours, crushing workloads that they frequently carry home, and the expectation that they meet the emotional and physical needs of all of their students.
Although school administrators can’t change any of the larger issues that contribute to teacher burnout, such as class size, they can control some of the smaller ones. Dispensing unclear or impracticable guidance that lays the responsibility for resolving the challenges inherent in the educational system on teachers is unjust and will not succeed. Teachers, school employees, and school leaders must take responsibility for their own well-being by creating structures and practices that promote self-care, introspection, and overall health, rather than just finding time to do so.
To get started, here are seven tips:
Educators Should Be Questioned and Heard: This year, school leaders are experimenting with new, yet incredibly effective, methods of supporting not only teachers but the entire workforce as a whole in dealing with stress.
Nonetheless, the school’s leadership team didn’t merely “impose what we imagined would help [the team].” Instead, they conducted a wellness survey for teachers and staff, and then “listened when they told us what they needed,” as they put it. As a response, the school set up a “little check-in therapy” line for school workers to use. According to the poll, teachers found mindfulness, positive psychology, and self-care practices to be of particular interest. An experienced local yoga instructor was engaged to offer weekly virtual courses to faculty members and to lead mindfulness and breathing exercises at the start of staff meetings, rather than simply advising them to give yoga a try.
Give Teachers an (Actual) Break: Using the “tap-in/tap-out” system, instructors at a nearby school can quickly contact a colleague to come relieve them from the classroom for a few minutes so that they can take a well-deserved break. You can use it to take a breather and get back on track when things get too much in the classroom. As a result, it helps to reinforce the idea that teachers are not heroes or martyrs; that it’s vital and entirely acceptable to seek assistance; and that colleagues in the school are there for each other in times of need.
Stop Watching the Clock: Teachers put in an extraordinary number of hours early in the morning, late at night, and on weekends, So give teachers a break when it comes to keeping track of their work hours and the amount of time spent in the classroom (or online).
We should call it even if teachers are getting their work done and are available for students. For as long as critical job tasks are met, grading can take place at a coffee shop and online in-service training can be completed in pajamas at home. There’s no need to worry about anything, they tell you. This kind of freedom “means the world to teachers, because we all know that they work considerably more than their contract needs anyhow.
Create Shared Agreements: Self-care is not a priority in the school culture, therefore teachers must find ways to care for themselves on their own. When it comes to “self-care,” it should become part of the school culture, rather than a burden for individual staff members to seek out. If you’re looking for ways to improve the way instructors engage with and listen to one another, set “realistic boundaries around work” or establish routines “reflecting on their own wellbeing,” you might start by creating shared staff agreements.
Make Time for Check-Ins, Both Formal and Informal: As a school administrator, it is important to show your teachers that you are concerned enough to make time to check in on their well-being and to see how they are coping with the demands of their classroom and workload. However, check-ins do not necessarily necessitate advance planning; a casual drop-in might be just as meaningful. Make a point of stopping by the teacher’s desk to leave a sticky note describing what you observed.
Schedule Planning Time for Teachers: To keep up with increasing duties, teachers often find themselves working longer hours, which can eat away at the personal time they need to recharge and relax.
An elementary school administrator devised a timetable that allows teachers to collaborate and prepare while pupils participate in enrichment activities. The principal adds that the schedule also incorporates professional development throughout the workday, which improves our school’s instructional capacity, student learning, and school culture and climate. While maintaining a laser-like focus on student accomplishment and community collaborations, my staff and I have made ‘teacher time’ a top priority.
Model and Support Wellness: Teachers’ stress levels can be comparable to those of doctors and nurses working in hospital emergency rooms. It’s critical for school leaders to provide an example of wellbeing and self-care,” says a school psychologist. Encourage teachers to set boundaries and take breaks, and model this behaviour yourself. Take a little break from your workday to go for a walk. Let teachers know that you won’t be bothering them with emails or expecting them to answer emails on the weekends by practicing not responding to emails after 6 p.m.
Set aside a few minutes each morning before classes begin for meditation or silent contemplation. Forcing teachers to take time out of their day to participate in wellness activities shows that the school’s culture values their well-being. This might be accomplished by reducing their workload elsewhere. It’s also critical to identify employees who may be dealing with substantial stress and let them know you care about their well-being so they may develop a coping technique, as Farber advises.