Dr Lisa-Maria Müller – Education Research Manager
Since the start of the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, teachers have worked tirelessly to help students access online learning, organised food parcels for their students, dealt with escalating safeguarding issues because of lockdown, assured keyworker provision, all whilst taking care of their own families. And they have been paying the price for their unwavering commitment in the shape of a mental health and wellbeing crisis that demands our urgent attention.
The emotional toll of caring for others
The impact of workload
‘…Teaching workload has increased. Colleagues are setting work online, teaching live lessons via Teams and also in school all at the same time. Workload has increased hugely. Learners and staff are largely left to develop their own
strategies for dealing with what is essentially an ongoing trauma situation and this is enormously worrying.’
Factors leading to an increase in stress and workload and what we can do about them
‘I need there to never again be an announcement about what I will have to do in my setting without the relevant guidance also being published, ideally beforehand. Late evening guidance published days after a headline statement has ruined my ability to plan, to present a safe, knowledgeable face to parents and to sleep.’
Live teaching only
Focusing too much on ‘catch-up’ instead of recovery
‘[…] we need a general understanding that this group of pupils, from [ages] 2.5-19, will be different from others; not worse, not better, just different. We also need a new narrative that academic success is not synonymous with life success. These pupils cannot be judged as individuals based on their academic results alone.’
Recommendations for government to improve teacher wellbeing
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- Bride BE (2007) Prevalence of secondary traumatic stress among social workers. Social Work 52(1): 63–70.
- Child Bereavement UK (2018) Summary research report: Improving bereavement support in schools. Available at: https://www.childbereavementuk.org/Handlers/Download.ashx?IDMF=fa7a443b-636d4238-af12-accedec84419 (accessed 26 January 2022).
- Figley CR (1995). Compassion fatigue: Coping with secondary traumatic stress disorder in those who treat the traumatized. Brunner/Mazel.
- Greany T, Thomson P, Martindale N, Cousin S (2021) Leading in Lockdown. Research on School Leaders’ Work, Wellbeing and Career Intentions.
- Hensel JM, Ruiz C, Finney C et al (2015) Meta-analysis of risk factors for secondary traumatic stress in therapeutic work with trauma victims. Journal of Traumatic Stress 28(2): 83–91.
- Müller L-M and Goldenberg G (2020) Education in times of crisis: The potential implications of school closures for teachers and students. A review of research evidence on school closures and international approaches to education during the COVID-19 pandemic. Available at: https://my.chartered.college/wpcontent/uploads/2020/05/ CCTReport150520_FINAL.pdf (accessed 26 January 2022).
- Müller LM and Goldenberg G (2020b) Education in times of crisis: Teachers’ views on distance learning and school reopening plans during COVID-19: Analysis of responses from an online survey and focus groups. Chartered College of Teaching. Available at: https://my.chartered.college/resources/publications/ (accessed on 26 January 2022).
- Müller LM and Goldenberg G (2021) Education in times of crisis: Effective approaches to distance learning: A review of research evidence on supporting all students’ learning, wellbeing and engagement. Chartered College of Teaching. Available at: https://my.chartered.college/wpcontent/uploads/2021/02/MullerGoldenbergFEB21_FINAL-1.pdf (Accessed on 26 January 2022).
- Müller LM and Goldenberg G (2021b) Education in times of crisis: Effective approaches to distance learning, Sharing teachers’ expertise and experiences. https://my.chartered.college/wpcontent/uploads/2021/11/MullerGoldenberg_FULL_NOV21.pdf (Accessed on 26 January 2022).
- Müller LM and Goldenberg G (2021c) Education in times of crisis: Effective approaches to distance learning, Sharing teachers’ expertise and experiences. Report summary. Available from: https://my.chartered.college/wp-content/uploads/2021/11/MullerGoldenbergSUMMARY_NOV21.pdf (Accessed 26 January 2022).
- Pfefferbaum RL, Fairbrother G, Brandt EN et al. (2004a) Teachers in the aftermath of terrorism: A case study of one New York City school. Family and Community Health 27: 250–259.
- Wolmer L, Hamiel D, Barchas JD et al. (2011) Teacher-delivered resilience-focused intervention in schools with traumatized children following the second Lebanon War. Journal of Traumatic Stress 24:309–316.
- Zhang J, Zhang Y, Du C et al. (2016) Prevalence and risk factors of posttraumatic stress disorder among teachers 3 months after the Lushan earthquake: A cross-sectional study. Medicine 95(29). DOI: 10.1097/MD.0000000000004298.