There’s a long list of things that contribute to the effectiveness of classroom learning: strong teachers, relevant curriculum, technology, resources, the school environment, the mix of students, parental involvement, administrative support, and learning styles. But teacher wellness isn’t something that’s often mentioned.
And it should be:
“Teachers and other school staff who experience exhaustion and burnout related to their work are likely to have a number of negative physical and psychological symptoms and consequences,” states a 2019 University of Maryland report titled “School Mental Health Is Not Just for Students: Why Teacher and School Staff Wellness Matters.” Those symptoms can include increased illness or fatigue, aches and pains, increased absenteeism, feeling “shut down,” a sense of cynicism or pessimism, and difficulty making decisions. Despite the high percentage of teacher stress, however, only about 25 percent of schools offer stress-management training to their staffs, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Division of Adolescent and School Health.
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As a kindergarten teacher in Baltimore City, Danna Thomas felt overwhelmed by the challenges faced by her students, including mental illness, abuse, and trauma – and knew that her stress affected her teaching in negative ways. “I felt so unsupported, especially emotionally unsupported, and I felt like I had to do something,” she told Johns Hopkins Magazine. So in 2015, she founded the Happy Teacher Revolution, a global network meant to provide the self-care, support and training that teachers need.
In a perfect world, no teacher would go without proper self-care, staff support, and stress-management training. But school districts typically are strapped for resources and put their budgetary priorities on, understandably, the classroom itself, and student outcomes. So teachers become responsible for their own training and professional development, even when it comes to wellness and stress.
Dominican University online offers 20 Self-Care and Wellness courses, including four specifically targeted to educators themselves:
Interested? To get more information or browse more course curriculum for Dominican University Online, visit the website here.
Photo credit: M-imagephotography via iStock