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How can Organisations help Teachers Foster Personal Relationships?

In January 2023, I published a research report about the impact of relationships on teaching and found that 80.6% of teachers and former teachers of the nearly 3,000 surveyed felt teaching has or had a negative impact on their personal relationships.

Kat Cauchi relationships

This is just one of the many startling figures you will find in the full research report. This issue is clearly significant, but it isn’t getting enough attention and it needs a spotlight shining down on it if things are to improve. 

As part of my report, I spoke with a few experts, Wellbeing in Education Expert and Founder of HealthyToolkit, Andrew Cowley ; Clinical Psychologist and youHQ Wellbeing Director Alistair Baillie; and Psychologist, Psychosexual Therapist, and CORST Professional Standards Manager, Jo Coker. 

They shared concerns about:

  • Lack of healthy boundaries
  • Teachers providing increased pastoral care (without being properly equipped to do so)
  • Lack of work-life balance
  • Excessive workload
  • High accountability
  • Poor self-care
  • High emotional investment
  • Lack of support systems
  • Toxicity in the workplace

What can organisations do about it?

Only 27.8% of teachers surveyed felt their organisation provided support to help them foster personal relationships, for example, by providing support for mental health and wellbeing that in turn positively impacts on personal relationships. This figure should be much, much higher. 

There are lots of things leaders can implement to better support teachers, but here are just seven for your school to get started with right now. 

  1. Actively monitor staff mental health, wellbeing and stress so you can see what the factors are and actively address them.
  2. Have wellbeing policies and involve staff in creating them and include fostering personal relationships as part of this.
  3. Ditch data-related performance targets etc. All these things cause extra stress of accountability for teachers.
  4. Work with staff on a workload policy: look at ways to minimise work, streamline daily activities, make marking simpler etc.
  5. Look to and learn from other organisations/professions with comparable time and emotional commitment requirements (i.e., public services) where things are working well in this area.
  6. Create an open culture where staff feel able to talk about their mental health and stresses openly without fear of stigma or being told they are being ‘too negative,’ not being a ‘team player,’ etc.
  7. Actively model this culture. If senior leaders are open, teachers are more likely to be too.

For advice individuals can take to support their own individual personal relationships; along with teachers’ experiences, and reasons for impact read the full report. You may also want to listen to my interview on Teachers Talk Radio discussing the findings of the report and what the needed next steps are with Educator and Data Scientist Caroline Keep

Let’s take action to help teachers foster personal relationships for improved mental health and wellbeing, better retention and recruitment, and to value them as individuals outside of ‘the teacher.’

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The author

Kat Cauchi is the community engagement manager at NetSupport, editor of R.I.S.E. Magazine, host of the Of Primary Importance podcast and product manager of ReallySchool. She is also a member of the Global Equality Collective, a Technocamps Girls in STEM role model, an innovate role model and a Global EdTech author. She won the Nexus Education 2022 ‘Classroom and Curriculum Improvement’ award for her blog about her journey into the world of EdTech and why she wants more young people (especially girls) to get into STEAM. Kat was also shortlisted in the We Are Tech Women #TechWomen100 Awards. Kat is a former primary school teacher, who has also worked as a Higher-Level Teaching Assistant, Teaching Assistant and Nursery Nurse.

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