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Why We Need To Worry About Teacher Wellbeing

Updated: Oct 24, 2023

In teaching there is always so much to do, so why do we want to be worrying about wellbeing as well? With over a fifth of teachers leaving the profession in the first two few years of their career and stress and workload being cited as the main reasons for leaving- a conversation about wellbeing is essential.

As teachers we want to make a difference to the lives of individuals, and we work tirelessly to do that. There are unique pressures and accountability in teaching which can lead to teachers feeling overwhelmed, judged, or questioning what they are doing. Teachers are supporting high levels of pupils and their families with mental health issues whilst referring for specialist services takes time. With the pressures and workload that teachers face, it is not surprising that so many teachers are considering leaving the profession. Research published by National Education Union (NEU) in March 2022 reported that 44% of teachers plan to leave the profession within the next five years. When teachers are supporting children and their families with social, emotional and wellbeing needs, it is vital that teachers themselves have self-care strategies to protect their own wellbeing and reduce stress.

I’ve been teaching for 25 years, and I’ve been an assistant headteacher for the last 10 years. I’ve seen the changes in education- there is more pressure than ever before. The expectations are higher, the hours can become longer, and the stress can mount. I believe in empowering teachers to value themselves and have positive self-care. I think the key to good wellbeing in education is not a huge change in routine but small considered changes that can build to make a big change. Lots of small steps can make a big difference. With greater demands and expectation needs to come greater self-care for educators’ wellbeing and for all of those in our profession.

Small changes that can make a difference can be as simple as making sure that you have some time for yourself each day- that may be pausing to have a drink and not doing anything else at the same time, it may be having a long shower or bath, going for a walk, or reading a chapter of a book you want to read. It doesn’t have to be big things- small things can make a big difference. If you started to add those small things up, you would notice a difference. It is easy in teaching to work non-stop, to run from one thing to the next, or to realise you have got to the end of the teaching day without drinking very much. This way of working, without looking after your basic needs is exhausting- which is why finding small windows of time for yourself can help.

Mindfulness meditation is a proven way to reduce stress and improve both physical and mental health. Researchers have reviewed more than 200 studies into mindfulness on healthy people and found that it significantly helps reduces anxiety, depression, and stress. Other studies have found mindfulness can help to reduce pain and boost the immune system.

To find some examples of mindful breathing that you can practice in just a few minutes try watching some of my short mindfulness videos on YouTube Michelle Auton - YouTube

If you are really struggling with your wellbeing please speak to your mentor, a senior leader in school, or your doctor. You can also get help from the Samaritans by calling 116 123 or from Education support by calling 08000 562 561.

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Nikki Kemp
Nikki Kemp
May 08, 2023

I really enjoyed your meditation. I use guided sleep meditation every night. This teaching assistant cannot function otherwise! Another good one to relax to is the sound of rain!

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