In her article 'Pupil wellbeing – Teacher wellbeing: two sides of the same coin?', Sue Roffey makes a convincing case for schools and colleges giving greater emphasis to teacher wellbeing both because it brings benefits to the profession and because it improves academic outcomes for students.
The principle benefit to the profession is cited as improved retention. The pattern of up to 50% teachers leaving within 8 years is repeated in the UK, Australia, the USA and several other Western countries. Improved wellbeing and its associated benefits could be regarded as a significant contribution to reducing that high rate of attribution, this could represent a high return to the public purse as a consequence of a relatively small investment.
Roffey cites Murray. Harvey (2010) and found the academic achievements of students, were ‘unambiguously influenced’ by the quality of teacher – student relationships. Open, friendly and respectful relationships improved results with the added benefit that those professional interactions with pupils can simply make teachers feel good about their job. (Roffey pp14). With the average number of teacher interactions with students being 1000 per day (Holmes:2005),it is clear that teacher wellbeing has a breast and deep impact.
Replicating the medical model of studying illness more than health, it is much easier to discover research about what makes teachers unhappy, unwell and anxious to leave the profession, than factors that promise and sustain wellbeing. There are some universal principals though.
Wellbeing must be lead and modelled by senior leadership. This begins with the simple activity of acknowledging teachers for the work that they do, it raises their sense of effectiveness and wellbeing, someone has noticed. (Roffey: pp16)
To enhance the wellbeing of staff schools and colleges must create an environment where innovation is celebrated and it is safe for failure to be acknowledged and learnt from. Roffey quotes one respondent who stated 'There is more feeling of equality and comfort with staff, not only on a professional level but on a personal one' (Roffey: pp12).
In conclusion then, there are three lectures of teacher wellbeing, that are in the nature broadly alighted with the strategies that also engender student wellbeinf. Firstly, that staff feel valued and cared for; secondly that they believe the workload to be manageable in the content of a sustainable work- life balance; thirdly, that there is stimulation and enjoyment in their role.
None of these features is novel or surprising combined they offer significant benefits for individuals and the education community. As a sustained culture they prevent challenges for schools and colleges when perceived as being contradiction to the pressure for rapid results – based attainment. Roffey study of least offers a way of understanding that squares that circle
Pupil wellbeing - Teacher wellbeing: Two sides of the same coin? Susan Roffey (Education & Child Psychology Vol:29 No 4.2012).