Why wellness works when it comes to teacher performance.

If you want to get the best out of really great teachers and ensure that they are inspiring the minds of students in online lessons, we know that you have to see them as fully rounded people who need holistic support and care. That’s why we developed the Evolve programme, which is our teacher wellness product and it’s available to all our teachers 24/7 anywhere in the world.

At many schools, the long run the management practice of teachers at schools often is too short term. This results in unhappy and uninspired teachers who leave the profession. Ultimately, this deprives students of the quality of teaching they need and deserve.

As the online education sector is still new, we have the opportunity to pioneer fresh ways to manage online teachers in a better and more sustainable way.

In order to achieve this, it will help us to understand why school teachers are unhappy with the way they’re managed by traditional education institutions – so we don’t end up making the same mistakes again.

The traditional teaching profession isn’t structured in a way that maximises a fulfilling and sustainable career for teachers. Poll after poll and survey after survey of school teachers from around the world show, as does teacher turnover data across many countries, as the statistics below demonstrate.

The Long Goodbye:

A major Gallup survey of school teachers at primary and secondary level in the USA found that 57% of full-time teachers are ‘not engaged’ at work, resulting in them being absent for 781,921 more days of work per year than their more engaged colleagues. Another 13% of teachers are ‘actively disengaged’, resulting in 1,521,101 additional days of work lost due to asbenteeism – more than double that of their ‘actively engaged’ colleagues!

This disengagement has a bottom line cost for the organisations employing these teachers. Also, it has a cost on the performance of their students. According to a study by the Paris School of Economics, school teacher absence has a statistically negative impact on student test scores, because the disruption to learning caused by using substitutes – regardless of how good they are – is equivalent to using teachers who are in the bottom 15% of the profession for performance.

By comparison, our Positive Feedback Index is 1.4 and our Teacher Performance Index is 9.65, which show that our teachers are very engaged with students in online classes, while our Attendance & Scheduling Efficiency Index is 99.95%. [Positive Feedback Index = The amount of classes taught for each positive student feedback received. Teacher Performance Index = Average monthly teacher client performance rating out of 10.]

Farewell, My Lovely:

Not only are many school teachers disengaged from their work, they are leaving the profession in large numbers every year.

In the USA, Gallup found that 10% of school teachers leave after one year and 17% leave within five years, but it’s as high as 70% after the first year in urban districts!

Even amongst those who are still teaching, PDK International polled American school teachers and found that 50% say they have considered leaving the profession, while 61% of high school teachers say they have considered quitting the profession!

In the UK, 40,000 school teachers quit the profession in 2016 which represents 9% of the national teaching workforce. Not enough of them are being replaced. There is a shortfall of 30,000 classroom teachers and at secondary level 20% of teacher training vacancies are unfilled.

A lack of teachers means classes are getting bigger. Bigger classes are harder to control. Losing control stops teachers teaching. With less teaching time, students make less progress. And that can be catastrophic for teachers and their stress levels. It’s a vicious circle.

Trouble Is My Business:

The high numbers for teacher disengagement and turnover suggests there is something about the teaching profession that needs fixing.

In most teacher surveys, the second highest reason given by teachers for their disengagement and turnover was stress and burnout, while the third highest was feeling a lack of respect and feeling valued. [Consistently, the first is always the pay is too low relative to the workload and hours expected.]

Gallup found that 46% of American teachers report high levels of stress at work. This is similar to the stress experienced in high pressured professions such as physicians and nurses! It puts teaching joint top (with nursing) of the 14 professions surveyed for stress.

The American Federation of Teachers reports that 78% of teachers say they feel physically and emotionally exhausted at the end of the work-day.

The Education Support Partnership (ESP), a UK education mental health charity, reports that it has seen the number of teachers calling its confidential helpline rise over 35% in 12 months.

The high levels of stress experienced by teachers affects their enthusiasm for the profession and their longevity in the field.

A survey of 30,000 teachers found that 89% say they had been enthusiastic about teaching when they started the profession, but only 15% still feel enthusiastic at the time of the survey – a decline of 74%!

The Big Sleep:

Why are so many teachers feeling burnout?

The Teacher Burnout Survey an international survey of teachers, has uncovered that teaching is not structured in a way that enables teachers to live a healthy and balanced life – without which remaining in the profession becomes unsustainable for many teachers over the long term.

65% of teachers identified signs they were burning out in their jobs, while 85% diagnosed themselves as working ‘unsustainably’ with significantly increased health risks as a result. Over 75% of teachers complained of the health problems, which are associated with a failure to deal with stress.

Over 50% of teachers do ‘unsustainable’ weekly working-hours, while only 12% reported working hours close to a ‘normal’ working week. 57% of teachers surveyed, responded that they don’t have time for their own life because of the demands of their job.

74% of teachers report getting too little sleep. 43% of teachers sleep less than 6 hours a night, with many complaining of sleep problems due to the stress of their work. Getting less than 7 hours sleep a night is linked to numerous health problems including a lower life expectancy.

As a result, 58% of teachers say they are constantly tired and are waiting for the next holiday to catch up on rest.

Due to constant fatigue, 63% of teachers responded that they struggle to concentrate in class, which increases to 83% if stress is added as a reason too.

68% of teachers say that stress at work is a real problem for them, and causes them to be easily irritated in classes (and 36% of those say that the irritation goes with them back into their home life).

These causes of teacher burnout inevitably affect their engagement in class and their enthusiasm to remain in the profession.

These are very fixable problems. However they require a change in the management of teachers. These problems can’t be resolved by teachers alone. Education leadership needs to step up.

The Quest:

Birkbeck University of London’s research shows that people in a high-performance job can cope with stress if they have support and autonomy. People can cope with a very stressful job if they’ve got these, but if you take support away then things become very difficult for the individual and their performance declines.

Teachers’ wellbeing just isn’t enough of a priority for many education organisations and institutions. As the leadership in our sector, we all need to ensure that we create sustainable and healthy work environments for teachers.

UNESCO Insitute for Statistics research shows that a total of 68.8 million additional primary and secondary teaching positions are needed globally in order to achieve universal primary education by 2030. This will replace the teachers who leave the profession as well as bring in additional teachers to expand access to education. [UNESCO calculates these predictions by assuming a primary level class size of 40 pupils and a secondary level class size of 25 pupils.]

The pressure to hire more teachers to meet this target and offset attrition rates can lead to the recruitment of less qualified teachers or less than great teachers.

Given the lack of teachers relative to the global demand for them, teachers now have more choice about whom they decide to work for. They will look for employers providing a healthy work environment.

Providing a rewarding and healthy place to work for teachers will become a competitive advantage in attracting and keeping really great teachers!

We take supporting the health and wellness of our teachers seriously, which is why we provide all our teachers with access to our Evolve programme – a teacher wellness service available to our teachers:

Learn more about our Evolve programme by clicking here.

Learn more about how we can help you find, develop and manage Online English Teachers for your students.

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