Friday, March 6, 2009

Teacher Wellness 

A first year teacher begins his new job with much energy and enthusiasm. He is doing what he has dreamed of doing for so long - teaching. However, part way through the year he starts to have anxiety attacks. His roles of teacher, coach, disciplinarian, friend and sometimes fund raiser have resulted in physical and emotional exhaustion.

While these examples illustrate different scenarios, the situations are all too common among teachers I have spoken with during pro-d day sessions I present on teacher wellness. Changes in the current education system have created a change in working conditions for teachers across Canada and the United States. Unfortunately, many educators believe that these ongoing changes have created not only stressful working conditions, but a stress epidemic.

Healthy and well employees are also more productive employees. Teacher wellness might be the missing link in the strategic planning process of education reform and could assist in the transformation and revitalization of both the school system and individual teachers. There are many definitions of wellness: an integration of body, mind and spirit;

A way of life which we design to enjoy the highest level of health and well-being possible; or a link between our physical, social, spiritual, intellectual, occupational and emotional selves. What I have discovered as I attempt to balance my roles of teacher, student, consultant, wife and mom, is that it doesn't really matter what definition I choose to work with - what does matter is how I choose to put my 'teacher wellness plan into action'.

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