Wellbeing. Please don’t become another buzzword.
‘AFL’, ‘G&T’, ‘Pupil Premium’, ‘Progress’ – what do all of these terms have in common? All HUGE Ofsted agendas that have become buzzwords.
Reading so many fantastic articles, tweets & ideas, I truly believe ‘teacher wellbeing’ cannot become yet another buzzword that we wear about like a pair of new trainers & replaces upon arrival of a new fad. Wellbeing is actually greater than any buzzword.
Over the past 18 months, extensive focus has been placed on staff wellbeing. It seems after decades of battling with excessive workloads and unattainable overtime, educationalists and policy makers have come to the utopian conclusion “teachers are humans too”. That they aren’t pieced together on an assembly line, that they have lives beyond the classroom and that the intensity of teaching is having an impact on the lives and yes, wellbeing of individuals.
Recently research suggests that a concoction of OFSTED inspections, parentocracy & lack of support from senior leadership is making teaching increasingly challenging for teachers. To improve morale, create a driven and motivated staff community, senior leaders are trialling many methods to improve staff wellbeing. Coffee mornings, free parking even ‘colleague of the term’ awards have been used to make teachers and teaching a happier place.
What is staff wellbeing?
To answer this, you have to ask yourself ‘what isn’t staff wellbeing?’ If wellbeing is about helping staff find a way to manage workload & offer empathy and understanding. Harbouring new ‘Support plans’ or more CPD doesn’t mean wellbeing. Yes, teaching requires overtime but not out of choice per say. But because otherwise they can’t fulfil the requirements of their job or simply to keep their jobs. It’s sad because all teachers want to do is make a difference & be a difference. Yet with incredible personal sacrifice. They just want to be able to have a work-life balance, to whatever extent is possible in this day and age.
I fondly remember a Clare who was in SLT and who has not taught in 5 years. She created a copious data spreadsheet for Shazia (NQT) to complete in her ‘gain time’. Clare is also leading next weeks CPD in Staff wellbeing and work-life balance. That profound level of hypocrisy is what alienates staff.
What is wellbeing? – This is not an exclusive list as I don’t want to start another Edutwitter listgate scandal. The same scandal that I believe Tom Rogers deserves great respect for. Handled it like a true champion. We do, however, need to differentiate between what is & what is not wellbeing.
If anything, wellbeing is a cultural shift. Teachers are an incredible resource. They can truly change lives. They need protecting. Wellbeing is protecting these teachers.
By Shuaib Khan