Wellbeing of School Employees Overview
Seldon (2018) explained that teacher workload, stress and turnover can be linked to five systematic problems. These include: social immobility, lack of progress or advancement in the education system, administrative control of teaching, large class sizes, and a lack of opportunities for individualization (p. 54). While it may not be possible to remove all these barriers for teachers and school staff, a focus on wellbeing may alleviate the daily stress and burnout teachers feel. Workplace wellbeing is the “balance point between an individual’s resource pool (psychological, social or physical) and the challenges faced (psychological, social, or physical)” (Dodge et al., 2012, p. 230). While it may not be feasible to fix all of the problems faced by education professionals, this section aims to help teachers and school leaders increase the available psychological, social and physical resources for themselves and their teams in hope of improving wellbeing.
Grant and Spence (2010) developed the Wellbeing Engagement Matrix to illustrate the role that both wellbeing and engagement play in ensuring our school staff and leaders are both happy and healthy at work.
Our goal should be to help our school staff to flourish with a greater wellbeing, engagement and enjoyment at work. The interventions included in this section will help your school develop flourishing and happy educators, rather than languishing and distressed educators.
Factors that Influence School Employee Wellbeing
The wellbeing of our teachers, administrators, and school staff “is not solely the responsibility of individuals, but rather a collaborative concern shared across schooling sectors, universities, employing authorities, and professional associations” (Price and McCallum, 2015, p. 197) Price and McCallum (2015) applied Brofennbrenner’s (1979) ecological framework to address the various systems that influence educator wellbeing.
The macrosystem and exosystem consist of societal values and beliefs, legislative constraints, school organization, wages, hours, etc. Increasing teacher wages, reducing work hours, and shrinking class sizes would likely reduce some of the challenges teachers face, but these changes require large scale, and often legislative, change. While it is important to consider these variables in addressing educator wellbeing, this resource will focus on how to improve the mesosystem and microsystem- the whole school network and relationships and the individual capacities and working conditions of teachers and staff.
Bronfenbrenner, U. (1979). The ecology of human development: Experiments by nature and design. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
Dodge, R., Daly, A. P., Huyton, J., & Sanders, L. D. (2012). The challenge of defining wellbeing. International Journal of Wellbeing, 2(3), 222–235.
Grant, A. M., & Spence, G. B. (2010). Using coaching and positive psychology to promote a flourishing workforce: A model of goal-striving and mental health. In P. A. Linley, S. Harrington, & N. Garcea (Eds.), Oxford handbook of positive psychology and work (pp. 175–188). Oxford University Press.
Price, D., & McCallum, F. (2015). Ecological influences on teachers’ wellbeing and “fitness”. Asia- Pacific Journal of Teacher Education, 43(3), 195–209.
Seldon, A. (2018). The fourth education revolution. UK: The University of Buckingham Press.