August marks the start of the international school year, and this year, the coronavirus pandemic means tough decisions for heads of schools, policymakers and parents to manage the return to the classroom safely.
School plays a vital role in children’s development and mental wellbeing. In addressing COVID-19, schools have been forced to adapt rapidly to an ever changing situation, with school closures, longer vacations and moving learning to online platforms. These requirements have further disadvantaged children with mental health concerns, additional learning needs and physical disabilities, in addition to placing strains on lower income families. The challenge of managing at home learning effectively has been tough for all, and particularly families with both parents working or where there are multiple children.
Teachers also play a crucial role in students learning and well being. It is estimated that around 63 million teachers worldwide have been working hard to attempt to ensure their students continue to learn throughout this period, often under challenging circumstances. As many schools look at re-opening, teachers will be on the front line in making this successful.
The immigration policies have made it hard, if not impossible, for teachers to return home over the summer or visit their loved ones. Other new recruits have just moved to Japan but have found themselves quarantined. Managing re-opening to ensure the safety of both teachers and students is a top priority, but additionally providing teachers with the tools to manage this year’s additional stresses; engage in vital self care; and recognize when colleagues or students are not doing well will also be crucial.
Below are some tips to help teachers promote their wellbeing.
- Provide resources and workshops to learn about stress, burnout, and anxiety.
- Learn about cultural adjustment.
- Connect with resources that support some of the many positive psychology-based interventions, (e.g. mindfulness, grounding activities, journaling, breathing exercises, or muscle relaxation techniques).
- Encourage good work-life balance.
- Develop networks and spend time communicating with other teachers.
- Try to find time for regular exercise that you enjoy
- Keep a routine and make sure workloads aren’t overburdening.
- Take time out, whether it be to meditate or just disconnect from thinking about work by watching Netflix!
TELL also has additional resources to help teachers and parents support children.