Educators are no exception as they strive to keep up with both professional and personal demands in a fast-paced and rapidly changing environment. To help them maintain their overall wellness, teachers from all over the world have shared these wellbeing tips:
1. Focus on culture and creating a supportive work environment
According to Mark Solomons, acclaimed wellbeing expert and CEO of Welbee, staff need to feel they belong and have the right support. “Make sure your leaders are aware of and understand the right daily behaviors that will deliver this,” Mark shared.
One way to do this is to make sure you know your team. From Fiona McKenzie of Carfax Education, “It’s good to understand what your team’s frustrations are and how you can support them. One easy way is to ask where the bottlenecks have been and what has frustrated them this week. Just the fact you are asking the question shows you care and means that any frustrations can be addressed.”
Massrat Shaikh, Educational Psychologist at Al Ahlam Training & Higher Education Services, echoes this, saying that it is important to promote collaboration, open communication and a sense of community among teachers. “Regularly gather feedback from teachers and take their suggestions and concerns into consideration,” Massrat advised.
2. Make staff feel valued
Making staff feel valued is all about embedding wellbeing in school culture, shared Fiona. Have a wellbeing lead, create a wellbeing kit or put wellbeing on your meeting agenda to show you care.
Mark shared one way to do this is to ask leaders to set a goal to catch at least one person doing the right thing every day. “Be visible, present and walk about with this clear purpose, giving authentic and specific praise.”
A delightful idea was shared by Remediana Dias, who serves as the Chairperson at Vision Education Society, as well as a member of the Senior Leadership Team of Dubai Scholars Private School and the Head of Foundation Stage. The initiative involves a group dedicated to promoting well-being, who leave small notes, flowers, or other surprises throughout the workweek, anonymously spreading joy and positivity. What a wonderful way to brighten someone's day!
3. Lessen the Load
Find effective strategies to reduce workload. Work-life balance is essential for the wellbeing of staff, shared Remediana. One strategy they employed in her school is to have a small group of staff who are fantastic to look at ways of reducing workload, provide practical stress management activities and model good practice.
Aside from empowering staff to problem-solve with other colleagues, Fiona also shared this tip: “Ask your staff to write down three tasks they do every day which could be made easier and ask for their thoughts on how to do that. Then implement solutions to help.”
4. Provide Resources for Stress Management
We all deal with stress differently so it’s important to allocate resources such as counselling services or employee assistance programs to manage stress and avoid burnout, shared Massrat. Al Kingsley, CEO of NetSupport and Author of My Secret, also added that people can look into developing an effective Personal Learning Network, where one can give and receive support, ask questions and share resources – “Twitter is a great starting point!”
5. Set Boundaries
Al also stressed the importance of setting time boundaries – “Work is important but not more important than your health. Be sure to use your email signature and WhatsApp status to state your working hours. You are entitled to sleep and downtime to recharge.”
Massrat added to also make time for hobbies and interests outside of work and to take short breaks throughout the day to stretch, walk and step away from work.
6. Encourage Self-Care
Encourage teachers to prioritize their physical and mental health by offering workshops on mindfulness and other self-care practices, shared Massrat. Al pointed the importance of putting relationships first as well as they “are central to who we are so prioritizing them is essential.”
7. Exercise Regularly
Olly Lewis, Head of Digital Transformation at Thomas Deacon Trust discussed the importance of regular exercise. “Choose the intensity - a walk will do- and regularity that works for you but be sure to exercise so that you’re looking after your body as much as possible while also re-energising yourself.”
8. Practice Digital Detox
Olly also recommended regular digital detox to promote wellness. “Switch all your devices off and take some time to fully unplug from everything online. We live in such a fast paced and encompassing world but digitally detaching helps you maintain your well-being.
9. Take Time to Breathe
One easy way to destress throughout the day is remember our breathing. “We often forget to focus on that which helps us stay centred and grounded; our breath,” Olly explained. “Take time, a few minutes will do, to focus on breathing deeply and slowly.”
10. Practice Self-Compassion
Finally, Massrat talked about the importance of being kind and understanding with yourself. “Don’t beat yourself up over mistakes or setbacks,” he advised.
What other tips can you give to help promote wellbeing among your teachers and school? Share your thoughts in the comments below!