How do you define teacher wellbeing?

I was on a work phone call yesterday during my holidays and was asked if I had time to complete a document. My response was that as I was on holidays I had plenty of time to complete the task. For many teachers this would not be good for their wellbeing. For me this will help my wellbeing next term as a large task will have been completed and that will enable me to concentrate on students on Monday morning as term begins. 

It is interesting when you discuss wellbeing with teachers as everyone has a different definition of wellbeing. So if you are responsible for staff staff wellbeing there is a need to understand trigger points in your own context. 

It's Christmas! This can create a lot of stress in term 2 even with well meaning events being planned. The staff Christmas do. In some schools there is a compulsory Christmas lunch on the last day of term. The well meaning planner is thinking of how lovely it is for the community to sit down together to celebrate the end of term before people spend time with friends and families. The well meaning planner may not have considered: the parents who just want to use that afternoon to quickly do some Christmas shopping, the carer who would rather just have those 60 minutes to look after their own needs, the teacher who struggles eating food they have not prepared and the people who love teaching but when the bell rings socialising is the last thing they want to do. Staff voice at this time of year is very important to ensure wellbeing is supported. 

Wellbeing is very individual. If you have worked in a toxic school environment then enforced socialisation can be a trial and deplete your personal wellbeing reserves. In those situations then finding supportive networks outside of your setting is important. In a toxic school survival is key to finding an escape route. People will be supportive and tell you how much you are learning. It might be hard to believe and hold onto your wellbeing. Planning personal wellbeing events to nourish you as a person is pivotal. Just a lunchtime walk with a colleague can get you through some difficult times. 

What about the colleague who has a long commute? They might relish that drive and see it as their personal thinking office, a place to plan and reflect on each school day. It's about knowing your staff and building trust. 

What about the colleague with young children who sends emails at 3 a.m? This might be a way for them to get quiet time or it might be they haven't spotted working patterns. 

In a school where there are positive working relationships wellbeing is mutually supportive as people can share without fear. Wellbeing is a collective responsibility. If you are not thriving then it is highly likely others are on the same journey. If issues are shared then wellbeing plans can be thought through. 

If you have survived a wellbeing nightmare school - remember what it felt like and help make sure your new setting helps the whole community to flourish. 


  1. A very interesting article, thank you. I have spent a lot of the summer and last half term thinking about staff well being and also bonding.

    1. Some people want to keep work separate from other parts of their lives so team bonding out of school hours hinders their wellbeing. That mix of activities and input is important


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