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Managing Student Well-being Needs to Start With a Deep Dive Into the Well-being of Our Educators


In our previous blog, we touched upon leading by example. However, much of the work teachers do affect or framed by their schools. So, in today's blog, we will explore how to best support and enable teachers to be the example we, as a community, need them to be. For teachers to successfully manage student well-being in their classroom, we need to start by taking a deeper look into the well-being of our teachers and truly understand what underlying factors affect this.

Teachers are the backbone of our society. They help shape the people who will lead our world in the future. They often function as a confidant and a parent-like role for children and young adults for most of their day. They are one of the most present role models to students at their most impressionable age.

Dr. Christina Whalen wrote in her blog, "Taking care of educators' well-being may be one of the best things that schools can do for students because the people who are spending the most time with students and taking care of them must also be taking care of themselves."

Taking care of our educators has always been crucial. Nevertheless, the pandemic emphasized this even further - and the need for support has increased. In a report by The Canadian Teachers' Federation, 97% of teachers said their mental, emotional, and physical workload increased while job demands grew during the 2020-2021 school year. So, what can schools do for the well-being of their educators? We listed three game-changers:

  1. Ask how teachers are doing, and then truly listen. We need to put teacher voices front and center. A teacher quote from Teach Plus Prioritizing People reports stuck with us: "Over this year, we have been told how unprecedented and surreal the experience has been, yet there have been almost no moments where someone has asked me how I am doing. It would be helpful if schools did more than acknowledge the collective stress and prioritized supporting." This can be done in many ways, but there are many benefits to systematically finding the school's starting point, identifying trends, and measuring progress.
  2. Give teachers the tools they deserve to help support student well-being and mental health. Teachers are reporting that one of the most taxing factors emphasized by the pandemic is the worry about how their students are coping mentally. How are they overcoming hurdles presented by remote learning? What are the long-term effects of not seeing their classmates and teachers? Whom can students confide in, and what can teachers do to check in with them when needed? Teachers' role in supporting their students, both academically and in attaining an array of life skills, has grown. Teachers feel the burden of this task, and schools must shift focus from learning results to understanding, supporting, and leveraging what affects those results – student well-being.
  3. Allocate development resources to the most pressing issues from a well-being perspective. Resources in most schools are scarce, and allocating them to the most pressing issues might sound like a no-brainer. The tricky part is understanding which areas are most pressing when looking at the teacher and student well-being. This is where you can make use of systematically measuring both. By gathering data on well-being, the same way we do with grades and absences, you can get ahead of the game by finding and understanding the factors you need to focus on. The brilliant thing about taking a data-driven approach to well-being is that you also have an automatic way of measuring progress and a tool for reporting the outcome of your development efforts.

Helena Mustelin

Head of CX and Product
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