With almost a third of teachers quitting within five years of qualifying, and concerns that fewer people are choosing to pursue a career in teaching, it could be said that the teaching profession is in crisis.
Educators leaving the profession cite stressful and ever more demanding targets, budget cuts, and heavy workloads as their main reasons for quitting, all of which can have a hugely detrimental impact on wellbeing.
Here at Pupil Progress, we’re committed to turning the tide and championing the wellbeing of teachers. Not only through saving teachers time and creating headspace, but also by giving a platform to some of the pioneering school wellbeing initiatives out there -- also created by teachers, for teachers.
Teach Wellfest is an annual festival with a mission to reset the negative rhetoric and inject positivity back into teaching. Teach Wellfest wants to take teacher wellbeing away from ‘novelty’ ideas such as giving teachers presents, free yoga classes or early day finishes. Instead, Teach Wellfest encourages pragmatic changes such as constructing wellbeing committees and consulting school workforces on wellbeing. For Teach Wellfest it’s less about small adjustments and more about transforming school cultures, from the headteacher down.
Combining a colourful festival atmosphere with sharing constructive tips and information, Teach Wellfest aims to give teachers a proactive guide to improving their wellbeing.
Despite 2018 being its inaugural year, Teach Wellfest’s no-nonsense approach to teacher wellbeing drew a large crowd. They’ll be expanding next year, taking teacher wellbeing to schools with a regional tour: Teach Wellfest-OTR (on the road).
Speaking to us about Teach Wellfest, founder Georgia Holleran said that the festival came as a result of a common trait among teachers – they tend to be carers: “[Teachers] tend to be people who care about individuals and therefore they tend to care about their school pupils rather than staff.”
According to Georgia, teachers always look to pupils’ needs before their own,. This means that their own wellbeing is more likely to be neglected than other professionals’, though this isn’t necessarily helpful. As Georgia says: “It’s one of those things where you have to put your own oxygen mask on first before you can help anyone else”.
Teach Wellfest aims to change all that. It wants to support teachers, letting them know that looking after themselves isn’t indulgent, but necessary.
Laughology: Wellbeing in Schools Inset Day Workshop
A training day for teachers looking to improve personal wellbeing – much as you would approach a new skill or subject – Laughology’s inset day workshop uses the company’s trademark humour to increase teacher wellbeing and create a positive classroom atmosphere. They advise teachers on how to focus mental energy, learn to create and maintain their own wellbeing, as well as how to build resilience in schools.
Areas of focus includes critical thinking and behavioural techniques, building resilience in school, reward and recognition that improves wellbeing, as well as instilling healthier work and life habits.
In order to boost personal wellbeing, Laughology recommends humour as a tool to improve emotional intelligence, increase happiness in teaching teams, and as a mechanism to combat stress. This is used not as a novelty but as a method that prepares teachers for creating happiness and positivity in a school team as part of a wider culture change, and as a tool to maintain their own wellbeing.
Karen Murphy, Deputy Head at The Grange, Runcorn praises Laughology’s unorthodox effectiveness in her testimonial, calling the inset day “excellent, engaging, informative, practical and funny”.
Healthy Toolkit is on a mission to promote teacher wellbeing through its blog and social media presence, advocating – as the name suggests – healthy diets, healthy exercises, and healthy attitudes. For instance, Healthy Toolkit are currently advising teachers to share activities that contribute to their wellbeing with others, whether that be books they love, food they cook or gardening tips. This collaboration of small everyday changes summarises the website’s focus on lifestyle as a way of improving teacher wellbeing.
Regular posts discuss everything from mental health issues and mindfulness to lifestyle tips. Their aim is to change people’s outlooks on teacher wellbeing, widening its impact by interacting and partnering with fellow wellbeing brands: including Teach Wellfest.
What Healthy Toolkit aims to do is change the agenda. Similarly to Teach Wellfest, it recognises that teacher wellbeing isn’t just about hugs and free cookies, it's about driving a meaningful culture shift within schools and by the teachers themselves.
As Georgia from Teach Wellfest mentioned, teachers are often the last ones to recognise that they’re neglecting their wellbeing. Even when they do, they might not know what to do about it, or how to make a change. Healthy Toolkit helps empower teachers by posting real, constructive advice that easily integrates into teachers’ day-to-day lives.
Worth-It Teacher Wellbeing Programme
Mental health experts Worth-It provide a teacher wellbeing programme which aims to increase self-awareness, and awareness of thinking patterns, associated feelings and behaviours. Worth-it Teacher Wellbeing advises teachers to develop self-awareness, whether that be of thinking patterns, or feelings and behaviours that allow them to better respond to situations and gain greater results, as well as have a clear strategy for teacher wellbeing.
Once again, this addresses the ‘oxygen mask’ mentality of so many teachers. What’s more, when you’re that close to the coal face with a demanding workload, stepping back and recognising an issue can be the biggest challenge.
The Worth-It programme is booked as part of an annual package of support, with a specialist delivering a day of drop in coaching either once a half or full term, with up to six teachers included in one booking. To provide further support, email preparation and follow up support is given to those who attend, reinforcing the lifestyle and mindset changes necessary to improve personal wellbeing.
Are there any brilliant teacher wellbeing initiatives that we’ve missed? If so, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and let us know.
Is there an issue you think we should address on the Pupil Progress blog? Drop us a line at the email above, or tweet us @PupilProgressUK