This year has been incredibly challenging for teachers with the added layers of the pandemic, schools going in and out of lockdown and remote learning.

In June, the Ministry of Education announced a $32 million programme to establish 40 new curriculum leads to work with schools, acknowledging the need for more of a focus in the education system on wellbeing.

Below in an article published on Newshub.co.nz, where our CEO reflects on teacher wellbeing and the importance of supporting our teachers through these uncertain times.

Opinion: The wellbeing of our teachers is our collective responsibility

When you fly somewhere (remember doing that?) you’re always shown a safety demonstration either by the cabin crew or on a video screen. One of the key features of these demonstrations is the use of an oxygen mask, instructing you to attach your own mask before fitting a mask to a child.

This got me thinking: the same example needs to be applied to teachers when it comes to their wellbeing. A teacher’s first priority – and by virtue of the fact, ours – should be to increase their own levels of wellbeing so they have the resilience and strength to help their students.

Researcher and teacher Suskya Goodall recently spoke on the EPisodes podcast with Jimmy Bowens, where she discussed the value of wellbeing among teachers being the foundation of better education outcomes for students. She reflected on the lessons she has learnt about teachers and leaders and the importance of them finding ‘balance’ in their lives.

As part of her educational doctorate, Suskya has helped clarify our understanding of ‘wellbeing’. While acknowledging that there is no globally-shared definition of the word, she said a simple definition of ‘wellbeing’ is: “Feeling good, and functioning well”.

“‘Feeling good’ is about positive emotion in the present, while ‘functioning well’ is more about the long term, and sustainable practices around meaning, purpose and life satisfaction,” she said.

She went on to speak supportively of Sir Mason Durie’s model, Te Whare Tapa Whā. It’s based on the idea of a house with four walls, each representing a dimension of wellbeing: physical, mental and emotional, social, and spiritual.

“The idea is that it’s these four dimensions that hold up the roof,” she said.

“All of the walls are necessary, and in balance.”

A similar point was raised by Sue Roffey, in her research paper, where she pointed out how professional development is often focused on academic curriculum targets rather than the equally important pillars of learning to be and learning to live together.

“For the sake of our children and society in the future we need to keep the conversation about wellbeing top of the agenda,” explains Roffey.

So whose responsibility is teacher wellbeing, anyway?

You can read the rest of the article here.

Thanks Alex, we agree it is up to all of us, as a community, to encourage wellbeing and support our teachers as much as possible through these challenging times. At EP we are proud that we can continue to innovate to support teacher’s requests and hope we can continue to help teachers both inside and outside the classroom.