This week's blog is a guest post from Daniela Falecki, the founder of Teacher Wellbeing. She specializes in using Positive Psychology to build teacher capacity and resilience. She has more than 20 years’ experience across all sectors of education. She's a Senior Associate for the Positivity Institute and lectures at Western Sydney University.
Did you know teachers can have up to 1,000 interpersonal contacts a day? So, if you feel like the world has emotionally vomited on you at the end of each day, it probably has. Given that teaching is all about relationships, being able to manage our own well-being is very important for connecting with students and helping them learn.
As a teacher for more than 20 years, I know all too well the ups and downs we experience on a day to day basis and the need for us to better support our own well-being. I know what it's like to have students demand your attention, parents demand your time and the system demand your paperwork. So, where is the time for us? And how can we better support our own well-being in simple and practical ways?
What is well-being?
Well-being is complex and dynamic. It's not something you can hold, but is more like a sunset, where we see it, feel it, share it, and then it goes. It's understanding the natural ebb and flow of life and recognizing how we can move WITH it instead of feeling like things are being thrown AT us.
There are 5 domains to well-being:
1. Cognitive well-being – how we think
2. Emotional well-being – how we cope
3. Social well-being – how we connect with others
4. Physical well-being – how we move, sleep and eat
5. Spiritual well-being – how we connect to our values and beliefs of meaning and purpose
A quick quiz.
Answer these 5 questions. For each "yes," give yourself one point.
In the last 24 hours have you:
1. Stopped to track the good things that happened in the day?
2. Taken 5-10 minutes to do something for yourself that you love?
3. Had a positive connection or felt connected in a positive way to another person?
4. Performed 30 min or more of exercise or eaten healthy food?
5. Reflected on the bigger purpose of why you do what you do or the legacy you leave each day?
Did you score 5 out of 5? Well done. You've charged your inner battery, so you're ready to be well in the world.
If you scored less than this (like most people), choose one domain and play with some actions steps that would strengthen this area. If we would hesitate to arrive at work without charging our phone or computer battery, then we also shouldn't arrive at work each morning without charging our inner battery.
Small changes can add up.
Start small and then repeat, repeat, repeat. For example, start a gratitude journal, download a mindfulness app (and use it), perform a random act of kindness, or share the positive feedback you just received with a colleague.
In my work with thousands of teachers across Australia, I have seen that with specific, evidence-based tools, well-being can be strengthened, teachers can flourish, and school communities can thrive. The application of Positive Psychology interventions in schools shows us that teacher burnout, stress and languishing can be prevented and even reversed.
For more details about how to strengthen each of the well-being domains for staff in schools, check out www.teacher-wellbeing.com.au.
All the best,