The subject of teacher wellbeing has been on the rise in recent years in conjunction with the publicised teaching crisis and ‘healthy body, healthy mind’ yoga and meditation craze. The wellbeing of teachers is a cause for concern but the majority of media focuses on the cause of poor teacher wellbeing being linked to the teaching crisis, when in actual fact student behaviour has a significant impact on teacher wellbeing which is completely isolated from the teaching crisis.
A recent health survey conducted by the Education Support Partnership found that out of 2000 education staff, over a quarter of mental health issues provoked through work were caused by student behaviour, with a 2010 survey stating that 70% of teachers had considered leaving the profession as a consequence of poor student behaviour.
There is an undeniable link between poor teacher wellbeing and bad behaviour in class, and this isn’t just a recent development, teachers are consistently identifying poor behaviour as one of the major stressors of the profession, alongside the effects of the teaching crisis.
Teaching is one of the top five occupations that are affected by work-related stress, the job itself is stressful as teachers are solely responsible for multiple children, and their academic success is a reflection on their ability as a teacher, not to mention on a day-to-day basis teachers are exposed to situations that invoke an array of emotions that they’re unable to self-regulate.
"Almost all surveys of teacher effectiveness report that classroom management skills are of primary importance in determining teaching success"
At a desk job, when we’re presented with a stressful situation we can take a moment for ourselves - either go outside, make a cup of tea, take an early lunch, make a phone call and let off steam. Instead for a teacher, they’re always on and performing.
When a child is acting out perhaps being verbally abusive, a teacher can’t walk away or react, they must stand their ground and attempt to get the situation under control so they can continue teaching the rest of their class. Not having an outlet for stress means that instead the pressure builds and mounts, and its circumstances such as these that lead to poor wellbeing, stress and burnout.
We can help to reduce the level of stress teachers feel as a result of poor student behaviour through preventative measures that help teachers establish good classroom management, as a well-managed classroom is 9 times out of 10, a well-behaved classroom.
How can effective classroom management promote teacher wellbeing?
Student behaviour is a core pillar of effective classroom management, and the benefits of an effectively managed classroom has a positive impact on teacher wellbeing. Generally, a well-behaved class will cause far less teacher stress as there are fewer class disruptions which helps to foster a positive learning environment.
When a classroom is the optimum learning environment students are more ready and willing to learn. Not to mention, it helps teachers to keep students on tasks and, the more time they’re are able to spend delivering the curriculum with an attentive class, means they’re able to rest assured they’re providing students with the information they need to succeed.
Ways to establish good behaviour through classroom management:
Outlining behavioural expectations for a class helps to instantly minimise the amount of disruptions that will be encountered because students are not only aware of how to act, but also, the sanctions that can incur as a result of negative behaviour.
When it comes to implementing strategies that promote good behaviour, it isn’t always down to the individual teacher - there are school-wide initiatives that can be put in place to help establish both good student behaviour and positive teacher wellbeing.
These can be things such as a behaviour policy and clear levels of actions that are taken as a result of negative behaviour. This helps ensure everyone is on the same page and knows how to behave, and also gives teachers peace of mind that they have support there if they need it.
Seating plans are one of the best preventative measures a teacher can take to ensure good classroom management. Seating students strategically, of course, includes catering for learning disabilities and sight and hearing impairments but it also means splitting up students who create distractions for the rest of your class. Speaking to previous teachers and observing students helps to paint a picture of where disruptive students should be sat for easy management.
It’s a common misconception that more praise is equal to happier students and better behaviour, in fact there is such a thing as overpraising. What’s more valuable in encouraging positive student behaviour is ensuring that the praise given is truly deserved and acknowledges positive behaviour. By doing this, students are motivated to receive praise and will follow suit of the students who are behaving well.
Regardless of the types of behaviour in the classroom, it’s paramount to remember that no matter how personal in may seem, bad behaviour from a student isn’t intended as a personal attack.
As a teacher, it’s important to learn how to detach personal emotions from the negative behaviour of students and to bear in mind that some of the most common reasons students misbehave is because of their own personal issues. One of the best things about classroom management is that it’s something that teachers can take control of themselves - the classroom is their domain and they can trial tactics and initiatives to help improve student behaviour.
A well-managed classroom is never going to eradicate teacher stress completely, but by paying it a decent amount of attention it can have a huge impact on wellbeing.