How Teachers’ Mental Health Affects Students’ Academic Progressadmin
Increased awareness and discussion around ensuring the mental wellbeing of young children during the current crisis. Teachers, who play the roles of educator, mentors, guide, and caretaker, are largely side-lined in this conversation.
With the shift in teaching modes and methods, the role of teaching has widened. It’s no longer concerned with just theoretical and practical learning, but they have to instill healthy habits and pandemic-appropriate behavior in pupils.
As we all know, educators’ mental health is one of the biggest factors in a student’s academic growth, as the mental health of teachers and students are interconnected, thus directly affecting their learning and outcomes accordingly.
However, caregiving can be challenging sometimes, especially when the caregiver is also dealing with stress and grief. The issue a teacher faces emotionally is, increased attention as their mental and emotional health is important in ensuring the availability of the right kind of support for students who are vulnerable and need critical assistance.
We always talk about the stress of students and their mental health, but we never glance at how teachers are dealing with their mental stress and what can be done to overcome this problem.
To get more clarity on this, India Today interacted with a few schools and their counsellors to understand the ways that schools lend a helping hand as well as train teachers to handle their emotional well-being and manage support for their students.
CAUSES BEHIND TEACHERS’ MENTAL STRESS
The word mental stress itself denotes ample meanings and we always talk about it but never find out the reason. So, to deal with mental stress, firstly, make sure one must find the answer to the question of ‘WHAT’.
Teachers have been observing a lot of anxiety and stress in students at all levels in the post-pandemic classrooms.
“Schools must focus on a stress-free, non-judgmental and supportive environment where teachers use a personalized approach to understand the level of each student and make a customized study plan.,” said Sanyogita Sharma – Director, Manav Rachna International School.
“I think schools have become extremely competitive. Parental expectations have sky-rocketed and school management wants the teachers to deliver on all fronts so that the school ranks high and becomes the parent’s first choice,” Poonam Kochitty, Principal, Seth Anandram Jaipuria School, Lucknow.
In this whole cycle, the teachers are usually held accountable. They are hard-pressed to deliver and, as a result, experience immense stress.
A STEP-BY-STEP PROCESS
“First of all, schools must create a culture where, despite high expectations, teachers feel a sense of achievement and happiness from the work they do. Every staff must feel valued and appreciated,” she added.
“In the journey of growth, mistakes will be there. Schools must allow for such errors and not make an issue out of it. Communication should be positive and open and when responsibilities are delegated, the teachers feel empowered and develop a sense of ownership,” she further added.
HOW CAN SCHOOLS REDUCE MENTAL STRESS?
1. Employee Assistance Program
“Schools must offer all its teachers an employee assistance program that can run proactive and preventive programs to deal with stress management and other work/personal concerns that hamper productivity,” said Noora Sinha, Head- of Wellbeing and Counselling at Shiv Nadar School Noida.
2. Regular well-being session
Additionally, schools can have regular well-being sessions with in-house counsellors or externals to help teachers identify their stress and provide strategies for stress management.
3. Constant support from seniors
Regular checks by their reporting managers or heads also provide a sense of support and allow openness, providing a safe space to talk about stress without it being seen as professionally incompetent.
4. Motivational spirit
Within the school, giving teachers the autonomy to work and distributed leadership allows for work satisfaction and therefore lowered stress.
Within constraints, ensuring that teachers have a fair workload and time to plan and do other “invisible” tasks.
5. Fun-loving activities
Yoga forms a part of everyday practice; and Music, Dance, Visual Arts, Sports, Reading, and Creative Writing have been given a place of prominence that students participate in with great gusto.
6. Social gatherings
Lastly, occasional informal gatherings, celebrations, playing games, and having a tea or coffee meeting can be a huge stress buster. Being a support system for each staff during good times and tough ones can win their loyalty and trust and help build a happy stress-free school.
HOW HAS COVID-19 IMPACTED TEACHERS’ MENTAL HEALTH?
The pandemic had disrupted the education system across the world and everyone was caught unprepared for a different way of learning. Though schools shifted to online teaching, the teachers made constant efforts to ensure that learning does not stop for any child.
Students miss out on social and emotional development, which happens only by attending school with their peers and being with their teachers in person.
WHAT BEST WE CAN DO NOW?
The hardships, uncertainty, and pain they felt at home made it even more difficult for the teachers and students to cope. Hence, post-Covid-19, it’s the need of the hour to:
- Make everyone feel valuable and be shown the faith that they can accomplish and achieve anything with correct planning and work.
Create a motivating and supportive environment for teachers where, besides the learning workshops, we create recreational, team-building, and social networking experiences for all of them.
Published on: 19th September 2022