Why The Wellbeing Of Teachers Matters

Why The Wellbeing Of Teachers Matters

Teacher stress is high, in fact teachers exhibit higher levels of stress than any other profession. Whether this be day to day stress of required tasks or institutional stress factors, teachers are struggling. As teachers battle exhaustion, so does their ability to cope and remain buoyant to the increasing social and emotional demands placed on them, which directly impacts wellbeing (Parker, Martin, Colmar, & Liem, 2012).

As a teacher for more than 25 years I know what it's like to feel under-valued for the time you put into meeting administration compliance. The lack of appreciation you feel after putting all your energy into meeting the needs of other peoples children. The bickering you experience in the staffroom having to compete for resources, and the helplessness you feel when common sense is not so common.

What we do know is that supporting teacher wellbeing is crucial, here is why;

  • When emotionally exhausted, we use reactive and punitive responses that contribute to negative classroom climates and student-teacher relationships (Osheret 2007).
  • As we battle exhaustion, so does our ability to cope with the increasing social and emotional demands (Parker, Martin, Colmar, & Liem, 2012).
  • Student learning declines, where a study in the UK showed teacher well-being directly impacted students' SAT scores with a variance of 8%.
  • The more stressed we feel, the less we are open to growth and new ways of thinking and acting (Tschannen Moran and Gareis, 2015). We literally shut down new ideas.
  • Teacher stress can also impact the quality of social and emotional interactions in the classroom. Positive classroom climates are cultivated when we are sensitive to students' needs, warm & caring, and we can listen deeply to students and refrain from using sarcasm or harsh disciplinary practices (Reyes et al., 2012]).
  • Poor school connectedness results in poorer academic and mental health outcomes for students (Bond et al 2007) .
  • Poor school wide functioning due to high staff turnover, low performance, absenteeism and efficiency costs (Albulescu, 2018).

In a nutshell,

Teachers worn down by their work exhibit reduced work goals, lower responsibility for work outcomes, lower idealism, heightened emotional detachment, work alienation, and self-interest. When teachers become burned out, or worn out, their students' achievement outcomes are likely to suffer because they are more concerned with their personal survival.

Richardson, Watt, & Devos, 2013, p. 231

While wellbeing at work is complicated and a shared partnership between individuals and organizations.

There are simple things we can do to better support ourselves and each other. It begins with hearing we are appreciated, taking action to feel valued and celebrating our great work.

Prioritizing teacher wellbeing is not a luxury but a necessity because student wellbeing begins with teacher wellbeing.

Daniela Falecki