The Benefits of Offering Staff Development Workshops to Improve Teacher Wellbeing
Are your teachers truly prepared to handle the stressors they face at work and in life?
When the pandemic first hit, many were left to their own devices to figure out how to navigate remote teaching and learning, while also managing other stressors stemming from this challenging time. With all the shifting priorities, directives, and mounting responsibilities in and outside of work, it’s no wonder staff feel tired and burned out.
While some have fared impressively well, others are considering leaving the profession altogether because of a lack of perceived support from their leadership teams, or due to an inability to keep up with it all.
Staff development workshops designed to educate staff on the necessary skills and actions needed to feel well at work and in life can build their resilience to stress and help them better manage and prevent burnout in the future.
When teachers feel their best and are equipped with the skills they need to manage their own emotional and physical wellbeing, they are more prepared to positively impact student learning outcomes and behaviours in the classroom.
This article will cover:
- The problem we face: teachers need additional support to manage burnout
- The link between teacher wellbeing and student performance
- Why offer Staff Development workshops?
- An overview of my Staff Development Workshops
- How to get started working with me
The Problem: Teachers Need Additional Support to Manage Burnout
Studies from around the world have indicated that the COVID-19 pandemic and teaching from home has caused teachers to suffer an uptick in anxiety, depression, domestic violence, divorce, and burnout (Al Lily et al., 2020, Li et al., 2020, Zhou and Yao, 2020, Prado-Gascó et al., 2020, Cuervo et al., 2018, Ryan et al., 2017, Von der Embse et al., 2019).
When teachers experience difficulties in their personal lives, it makes it all the more challenging to show up for work feeling engaged, motivated, and ready to help students who’ve also experienced heightened levels of stress over the last two years.
Teacher burnout is often the result of feeling overworked, under-appreciated and lacking the resources and support needed to carry out the job successfully. If it continues to go unaddressed, teachers are more likely to experience frustration and dissatisfaction with teaching which leads to increased absenteeism. That’s why it’s so critical to provide them with training to support themselves better in times of high stress.
The heavier the workload teachers face, the more time they need to bounce back and recover. Yet, the irony remains that when there are greater job-related stressors, they affect one’s ability to dissociate from work, resulting in a lower chance of engaging in activities such as exercise, sleep, and self-care that help with recovery (Kannampallil et al, 2020).
Teachers’ roles go beyond just preparing lesson plans and delivering them to a classroom of students. Teaching requires high levels of energy, especially when dealing with younger students. Not only that but, they often act as mediators between students or parents and the school thus, reinforcing their own need for psychological support.
Teacher Wellbeing Impacts Student Performance
Educators play a significant role in the lives of students, yet for teachers, the profession is one of the most stressful to work in.
Teacher wellbeing contributes to work satisfaction and productivity, and most importantly, demonstrates a positive influence on the levels of student wellbeing and academic achievement (Spilt et al., 2011). Research also indicates that improving school performance positively impacts school wellbeing, and improving teacher wellbeing also improves student outcomes (Briner & Dewberry, 2007, Dabrowski, 2020).
Teacher wellbeing is a vital component of educational outcomes. There is a well-established correlation between staff wellbeing and students’ academic achievement, social-emotional development, and behavioural outcomes. Furthermore, attention to a teachers’ whole-life experience reduces teacher attrition (John Hopkins University, 2020).
Stress and overall wellbeing are often cited as key reasons educators choose to stay or leave the profession (Naghieh et al., 2015, Dabrowski, 2020.) These key takeaways from the research indicate that if we don’t support our teachers’ wellbeing, we risk seeing widespread teacher shortages which only mounts onto the challenges school leaders are already met with.
It’s up to leaders to ensure they are doing their part in providing staff the support they need to feel well and engaged at work so they choose to stay.
Why Should Schools Provide Staff Development Workshops?
Many of us weren’t well prepared to deal with all the changes that came with the pandemic. Leaders, teachers, and students all did their best to adapt to the new circumstances with the tools and knowledge they had, but the reality is that many teachers struggled during this time.
Teachers rarely receive explicit training that helps them cope with common classroom stressors, let alone the know-how to navigate teaching and balancing work and life during a pandemic. Most of the professional training they receive is focused on instructional and classroom management skills rather than developing the teachers’ ability to cultivate wellbeing and manage stress.
Research has shown that stress awareness education, physiological interventions including mindfulness and relaxation training, exercise, reflective supervision and consultation, environmental adjustment or social support, and psychological interventions all benefit teacher wellbeing (John Hopkins University, 2020).
Training designed to prevent teacher burnout helps build a protective shield that leads to better resilience from work and life stress. It also increases teachers’ engagement, perception of their teaching value, self-efficacy, and ability to thrive. Thus, a positive relationship exists between teachers’ well-being and their efficacy in teaching (Pozo-Rico et al 2020).
Additionally, when we prevent teacher burnout we see a decrease in disruptive behaviour among students and greater general stability of the classroom, as well as student motivation and academic commitment. Teachers with lower stress levels and burnout symptoms and classes equipped with high coping skills have been associated with enriched student outcomes (Pozo-Rico et al 2020).
The right training can help teachers mitigate work-related stress and improve student learning outcomes by equipping them with skills, resources, and strategies to manage stress, improve efficacy, and increase job satisfaction.
For example, teachers with high emotional intelligence are better able to support student learning, provide opportunities for social development, and promote academic achievement and success among students. Through training directed at boosting emotional intelligence, teachers can learn how to prevent and manage burnout, reflect upon their own EI competence and create a plan for cultivating the skills needed to become more emotionally intelligent.
Teacher training programs that incorporate both a theoretical and practical approach to managing stress in the classroom help improve their understanding of emotions, the ability to identify emotions, emotional expression, and the ability to leverage positive emotions to improve their effectiveness at work.
Research also shows that teachers appreciate professional learning that helps them understand how trauma (like the collective trauma in the pandemic) might affect them as well as their students, and how they can effectively implement social and emotional learning programs (Cahill, 2020)
That’s why I developed these signature staff development workshops.
Staff Development Workshops Overview
‘Give Your Staff a Voice‘ is our foundation workshop and suggest you begin here. This session includes an introduction to my 6-Step Approach to Staff Wellbeing and Positive Psychology’s PERMA(H) Model. Participants complete an Anonymous Staff Wellbeing Survey and are given the opportunity to share their feedback about current initiatives and make suggestions for new approaches to wellbeing.
‘Staff Wellbeing 101’, this workshop includes an introduction to Positive Psychology and other theories and strategies for improving health and wellbeing. Participants develop their own Personalised Wellbeing Action Plan to help them identify what keeps them well and how their school can best support their wellbeing.
‘Mental Health 101’ is a practical workshop that develops your staff’s awareness of the mental health challenges experienced in the workplace. Additionally, staff will discover stress management and resilience-building techniques, how nutrition affects stress and mental health, ways to build better relationships, finding meaning and purpose at work and in life, and more!
What sets my presentations apart is that there is something for everyone. All of my workshops include practical strategies and activities for the individual, the professional, and for use with students.
What’s more, you will walk away with a 10-week focus plan full of ideas to keep the momentum going at your school during the school term and in between sessions.
Work with me
Up-skill your entire staff on ways to improve their health and wellbeing and prevent burnout using Positive Psychology and the most up-to-date educational research and advice from leading Australian mental health and wellbeing organisations. All our staff development workshops are tailored to suit the needs, budget, and nuances of your specific school.
Book a discovery call today to discuss your school’s goals, staff, and culture and I will recommend a plan to tackle your school staff’s needs with a term-by-term, professional learning plan.
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