As teachers, arguably, we’re exposed to more talks of ‘improvement’ than other professions. We abide by the goals set out for us in our school’s SIP, we push ourselves to improve so we can help our students achieve and we’re constantly teaching them how they can improve. Improvement is drilled into our very core and that’s not a bad thing, but it can become detrimental when taken to the extreme.
Pressures facing the teaching profession add to this ‘improvement culture’ we’ve created for ourselves. Demanding targets, increasing workloads and high expectations (from our seniors and ourselves) results in us setting unrealistic goals and resolutions, which although meant to help better us, only result in us getting closer to burnout. This is all heightened by the fact that we as teachers have two new year’s - the back to school new academic year, and the actual new year. Both of these fresh starts invite high hopes and added pressure, each an excuse for us to promise improvements either in our career or personal life, yet whether these resolutions actually materialise and benefit us is questionable.
Wellbeing has long been an area of concern for teachers - more and more are having to take time off from work due to mental health issues and there’s a general consensus across the nation that wellbeing and morale are low in education. There isn’t one particular reason for this but workload, high pressure, budget constraints and lack of teachers all contribute. A lot of these factors are out of our hands unfortunately, but that needn’t mean that we can’t improve our own wellbeing.
Working on improving your wellbeing needn’t coincide with a new year or present itself as a resolution, it should happen all year round and at any point you see an opportunity for improvement. The beauty of looking after yourself and your own wellbeing is that it has positive effects on your career and your students. Here are some ideas of resolutions or changes you can make either at the new year or at any point, to help improve your wellbeing:
Finish work on time
Learn to say no
Allocate time for you
Give yourself credit
Set aside time for CPD
Don’t let exercise slip
As teachers, we tend to be selfless, constantly putting the needs of others before us in a bid to help the students and our school. This is of course, a trait to be proud of, but we need reminding that because of the work we do and who we impact, we need to look after ourselves. Little changes such as the ones above can have a huge impact on your wellbeing when we stick to them which, in turn, can improve your mood at work and the quality of work you produce. Wellbeing shouldn’t be a fad, resolution or put on the back shelf - time should be made for it all year round.