The past year has been particularly demanding of educators’ mental and emotional energy, which has had a direct impact on their mental health. Educator well-being is an often overlooked aspect of school health, but supporting teachers’ mental health is critical to their physical health, job satisfaction, teaching effectiveness, and even their ability to support students’ wellness needs.
There are many ways your school or district can support educator mental health, and doing so can be beneficial to your entire school community. Here are five ways to support mental health for the educators in your school or district:
- Have Regular Check-Ins and Talk About Well-Being
Teachers may have a hard time opening up about their struggles when they are overwhelmed with their responsibilities at work and in their personal life, but it’s important that they feel comfortable doing so. To ensure teachers feel heard and supported, have regular check-in conversations about anything that might be challenging them. Open conversations about mental health and well-being remove the stigma and promote positive mental health.
- Implement an SEL Professional Development Program
Your school or district may have a social and emotional learning curriculum for your students, but it’s important to also provide educators with SEL resources. Implementing an SEL professional development program helps educators better support students and student SEL curriculum, and it also provides valuable SEL skills to bring into their own lives.
- Support Educators’ Many Responsibilities With Technology Tools
The best educational technologies benefit both the students and educators who use them. For example, a learning management system may make it easier for students to find class materials and complete assignments online, but it also supports teachers’ many responsibilities by streamlining attendance, managing assignments, and tracking grades. A safety management solution like Gaggle can also support educators’ responsibility to look out for students who are struggling mentally, emotionally, or socially. Using technology to simplify the many duties an educator holds helps to decrease stress and promote a better work-life balance.
- Find Ways to Maintain Relationships, Especially During Virtual Learning
Maintaining the connections between colleagues at your school or district is critical to building an inclusive and motivated team. During periods of virtual learning, it is particularly important to provide opportunities for teachers to connect with one another and share their experiences—separately from their teaching agenda. Some ways to do this include starting a book club (choose a book for PD!), creating a weekly or monthly virtual happy hour, or utilizing a social media-like platform to form a greater sense of community.
- Celebrate Educators Regularly
Teacher appreciation week doesn’t just have to be once a year. Consider a regular celebration of educators at your school or district to acknowledge their hard work, innovation, and success. When celebrating educators, don’t just praise them to their colleagues—broadcast their accomplishments to students and parents in your school community as well. When educators feel appreciated, they are more likely to feel satisfied with their jobs, leading to lower levels of stress.
These strategies can be useful during both virtual and in-person learning to support educator mental health and well-being. Those who feel supported are essential to building a team of motivated educators who feel respected and a school community focused on the mental health and well-being of all.
To learn more about this important topic, watch our Student Wellness Series: Educator Well-Being webinar. Access the on-demand recording now to hear from clinical psychologist Dr. Lisa Strohman, Dr. Eric Eshbach from the Pennsylvania Principals Association, and Steve Lehman from Northern York County School District.