Victoria’s level 4 COVID-19 restrictions last year forced a swift transition to online learning. The first wave gave a brief but sobering foretaste of the challenges that it will face teachers, students and families. In response, Knox School, an independent K-12 co-educational school in Melbourne’s eastern suburbs, used existing relationships with academics at Monash University to examine what teachers had learned from those early experiences.
Online focus groups with 50 teachers at all levels of the school have found thatthree key areas of change: teacher agency; Cooperation with the school community; and the well-being of the teacher. This is the final reader submission in a three-part series draws from the experiences of middle manager Melodie Matheson and examines how the teacher’s wellbeing has had a transformative influence on her leadership.
The fight for work-life balance
Online learning during lockdown created tension for teachers. Many worked to perform their professional duties in a manner that reflected their personal beliefs of an effective and personally satisfying practice, while at the same time trying to find time to “switch off” from a seemingly relentless workload. An effective balance between these tensions was required, otherwise the teachers’ wellbeing would easily become collateral damage in the process. This balance was critical to the health, happiness, and productivity of teachers.
Middle leaders who support teachers’ wellbeing
During this time of intense change, feedback from the focus groups showed that student wellbeing was understandably becoming a key concern for educators. Yet executives within the Knox School, like Melody, recognized the connection between the well-being of students and teachers. “Well-being has become a top priority for both staff and students,” she says.
A new timetable was created to lighten up the academic week. The five-day week was reorganized as follows: Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday focused on teaching, including subject areas and curriculum development. Wednesday became a day devoted solely to student wellbeing and was renamed Wellbeing Wednesday. Melody explained. “The creation of a feel-good Wednesday allowed students to work largely asynchronously while being assisted with wellness and physical activities explored by pastoral groups.
“Circumstances called for a wellbeing program that met the needs of students in the home learning environment. Therefore, pastoral leaders were expected to create, resource, and implement teachings and activities on wellbeing within a tight timeframe from the few resources they already had. As a middle manager, I had to walk a fine line in assisting staff to manage programs that target student wellbeing while being aware of the impact this initiative had on staff wellbeing.
Cooperation and clear communication
Melody reflects how reducing teacher stress depends on trusting relationships and productive collaboration between colleagues and between parents and teachers. Clear communication enabled both a sense of mutual responsibility for initiatives and mutual patience in implementing these innovations.
“An entire school initiative was very ambitious and required clear communication on several levels. This included trial and error of new technology, collaboration in implementing the initiative, and patience to ensure that it caught on in the community.
“From this experience I have learned that courage in leadership, clear communication and the consistency of purpose and action are respected by my colleagues. The employees put their trust in me and forgave me when things seemed imposed or didn’t go according to plan. ”
Forward with the well-being of the teachers
Through their actions, the leadership reaffirmed the idea that the competence of teachers depends on a continuous cycle of reflective practice, rather than an endless pursuit of perfection. For Melody, these considerations were transformative to her leadership.
The experience has raised my awareness of prioritizing relationships with employees, using collaborative approaches, providing clear and consistent communication, and showing courage and celebrating. Constantly showing that you are approachable and that you take care of your colleagues creates a solid basis of trust and familiarity. Open demands and genuine appreciation of each contribution creates an environment of respect and collegiality in which collaboration and creativity can flourish.
“Clear communication and frequent return to the common goal provide a clear direction,” adds Melodie. “Having the courage to show and celebrate, to lead, refine and replicate initiatives, models for employees that we all learn, and provide a safe environment for them to experiment and explore their own directions. Offering asynchronous professional development time – along with clear goals and examples – gives employees both space and guidance to develop their own initiatives. ‘
For Melody to become critically aware of the importance of the teacher’s wellbeing, the ideas of gratitude, kindness, and contribution were positioned as inherent goals of her leadership. Now, as she progresses, she wants to keep that learning alive.
“In the future, I will endeavor to continuously cultivate collegial relationships, value cooperation, communicate clearly, show courage and keep asynchronous and collaborative time in balance. Pursuing this approach will help increase a teacher’s sense of belonging, purposefulness, autonomy, and mastery, all of which contribute to their wellbeing. ‘
The teacher would also like to hear what happened in other schools. If you’d like to share your story with readers, contact the team at Teachereditorial@acer.org
Sumber : https://www.teachermagazine.com/au_en/articles/learning-from-lockdown-teacher-wellbeing