Reflect: Teacher wellbeing

reflect v5

REFLECT

To say something about the topic

Approx. ?? minutes

Learning outcomes

Although this section is entitled Reflect, we feel that since you have been reflecting on your practice throughout this unit, we would explore another area of teacher development, teacher wellbeing. However, this does not mean that we won’t give you the opportunity to reflect at all!

Learning outcomes:

  • To explore the links between CPD and teacher wellbeing

  • To consider the importance of teacher wellbeing

  • To evaluate tips for improving our wellbeing

  • To reflect on our wellbeing and how we can improve

Key considerations

Effective CPD can make us motivated, connected to other members of the profession and open up new opportunities in our careers. But can we have too much CPD? If you remember from Explore, one of the low points for one of the teachers that reflected on their teacher careers was when he ‘pretty much breathed and lived ELT for a long time’ which meant he was overworked and this affected their mental health. It is therefore very important that we ensure our CPD benefits our wellbeing and does not affect a healthy work-life balance. Throughout this section, we will look at different ways of doing this.

TASK: Before we continue, spend a moment thinking about these questions.

  • What do you understand by the term teacher wellbeing? 
  • Do you think there might be any barriers to wellbeing?
  • What would you like to know about it? 

Make some notes in your notebook. Don’t worry if you don’t have any ideas at the moment.

Teacher wellbeing

TASK: Now complete this description of teacher wellbeing.

Do you agree with this definition? Would you change or add anything?

This graphic gives you a visual representation of above definition:

A complex visualisation of factors affecting teacher well-being outcomes. A textual description of the visualisation is available below.
Textual description of the diagram

The visualisation represents the INEE’s Landscape Review which defines teacher wellbeing as being context-specific across the individual, school, community, national/regional and international levels. Teacher well-being outcomes include:

  • Job satisfaction
  • Self-efficacy
  • Stress and burnout
  • Social-emotional competence

At all levels Proactive factors serve to increase teacher well-being while Risk factors serve to diminish it. 

The diagram represents the teacher at the centre, surrounded by concentric circles representing the various other levels. 

Factors at the Teacher (individual) level include: 

  • Gender
  • Displacement status
  • Level of education
  • Coping mechanisms
  • Employment status
  • Teaching experience
  • Content knowledge
  • Cultural competence

The second level is the School (contextual) level. Factors at this level include: 

  • Peer relationships
  • Teacher-student relationships
  • School leadership
  • School resources

The third level is the Community (contextual) level. Factors at this level include: 

  • Access to basic needs
  • Respect and recognition
  • Responsibility and duty

The fourth to sixth levels include the National, Regional and Global (contextual) levels. Factors at these levels are related to the policy environment and include:

  • Teacher management
  • Right to work
  • Compensation
  • Teacher professional development
  • Certification

The INEE Minimum Standards provide a framework for understanding and applying this conceptual framework. 

  • Do you think this visual adds anything else to your understanding of teacher wellbeing?

Definition adapted from Falk et al., 2019: Landscape Review: Teacher Well-being in Low Resource, Crisis, and Conflict-affected Settings; Visual taken from: Teacher Wellbeing | INEE

Why is teacher wellbeing so important?

TASK: Watch the interview below with Sarah Mercer.

As you listen, try to notice the answers to these questions. After listening, click the the switch to check your answers. 


← Check answers

  1. What does Sarah say about teacher wellbeing and why it is important? 
  2. What does she say about challenges facing teachers? 
  3. What example does she say about a challenge post-pandemic? 
  4. What tip does Sarah give? 
  5. Do you agree with the points mentioned?
  1. What does Sarah say about teacher wellbeing and why it is important? 
    She says that it is the foundation of good practice. If teachers are tired and worn out, they cannot function properly. It empowers teachers to be the best teacher they can be.
  2. What does she say about challenges facing teachers? 
    Teachers are time poor as they have a lot to do. She also mentions the dynamics of teaching following COVID and adjustments still being made.
  3. What example does she say about a challenge post-pandemic? 
    Teachers now have dual roles of working online and in-person and synthesise these demands and create a balance.
  4. What tip does Sarah give? 
    She talks about working with other teachers and sharing your ideas – ‘finding your tribe’.
  5. Do you agree with the points mentioned?
    Your own answers.

Here is a link to the blog mentioned at the end: Teacher Wellbeing: A SMART Approach | Sarah Mercer | OUP

Read the blog. What else does Sarah say about teacher wellbeing? Summarise your thoughts in 100 words in your notebook.

Taking breaks

TASK: Read the following article on ‘The Value of Self’ by David Dogson in the magazine Modern English Teacher.

As you read, try to answer these questions. After reading, click the the switch to check your answers. 


← Check answers

  1. Does the author’s experience sound familiar?
  2. What did they do to make sure he could maintain a healthy work-life balance?
  3. Are there any strategies you could apply to your own situation? 
  4. Does he mean that professional development is not a good idea?
  1. Does the author’s experience sound familiar?
    This depends on your own experience.
  2. What did they do to make sure he could maintain a healthy work-life balance?
    To maintain a healthy work-life balance he: 
    – took a look at his organisation and forward planning and created a regular schedule for teaching related activities (e.g. marking and assessment)
    – spoke up when the workload was too much – line managers can offer advice and make changes
    – found out which activities taking place outside work can be cut down or cut out
  3. Are there any strategies you could apply to your own situation?
    Your own answers
  4. Does he mean that professional development is not a good idea?
    No, he says that development is good but a break is needed from time to time. As he says it himself: ‘several years engaging in self-driven professional development (…) has played a significant role in my growth as a teacher, trainer, and academic manager through a constant source of inspiration to try out new ideas and aim high’ (paragraph 6) but what is different this time is that he ‘needed to take a break (…) so [he] could fully focus on (…) [his] work-life balance’ (paragraph 7). ‘(…) more time to relax, and less time thinking about work has resulted in [him] having more energy for [his] classes, and more efficiency in tackling tasks at work before they mount up’ (paragraph 9). Finally, in his penultimate paragraph he says: ‘I am not saying I will never again spend my own time on pursuing development online and/or outside working hours, but it is nice to take a break and allow my focus to fall elsewhere’
  • Do you agree with the author’s ideas about taking a break?