Looking out for educator wellbeing

The important link between well-supported staff, student engagement and results.
Jun 30, 2020
Trickle down wellbeing
Sally Kirkright, CEO of AccessEAP

More needs to be done to ensure teachers wellbeing is championed to aid the trickle-down effect from teacher to student.

Public school teachers in NSW were found to work an average of 54 hours per week, with 11 of those hours reportedly worked at home [1]. Long hours partnered with poor work-life balance can result in burnout and have a damaging effect on mental health.

Educators believing they are not operating at their best can result in feelings of guilt, that they are ‘failing’ their students and contributing to their lack of engagement.

“It is undeniable that the educational workplace environment can be high pressured and demanding,” says Sally Kirkright, CEO of employer assistance program provider, AccessEAP.

Many teachers and principals face a variety of stressors in their day-to-day work, such as low pay, long hours, poor work-life balance and a lack of support, this can increase the risk of experiencing mental health issues as a result. As resilience is continuously tested, teachers can burnout, quit their jobs and cycle out of the education sector.

“Schools should be considered workplaces first, classrooms second,” Kirkright continues.  “If these problems aren’t solved, they may slowly lead to a crisis of mental ill-health, stress, frustration, overall attrition and increased student disillusionment with education,” she adds.

In the AccessEAP Industry Spotlight – Education for our Future, AccessEAP highlights ways in which school leadership teams can focus on the wellbeing of their educators.

  • Work with school leaders to help them recognise and respond to signs of mental health issues and burnout in their teachers.
  • Implement support structures for teachers ensuring they have procedures they can follow if they are struggling. Teachers need to know they have the support of school leaders, giving them a way to reach out for help early on is extremely important.
  • Train and develop programs for teachers in time-management, stress management and overall self-care. By providing tools, guidance, and support, schools not only prepare their teachers to be more productive and effective but also helps with factors that can aid employee retention, such as work-life balance and lower stress levels.
  • Set clear expectations related to the roles of the parents, role of teachers and students’ responsibilities so everyone knows what is expected.
  • Build awareness and reduce stigma associated with seeking support and encourage use of proactive interventions.

With improvements being made to the education workplace, educators will be able to do their job affectively and prioritise the reason they do their jobs, the students.

For more visit https://accesseap.com.au/industry-spotlight/education/

[1] AccessEAP Industry Spotlight – Education for our Future