The education sector has become increasingly saturated with technologies designed to aid the learning process. Yet, while there are plenty of learning technologies that are made to enhance students’ school experience, what about teachers and teaching staff – the unsung heroes of education?
There are very few educational technologies on the market that are designed with the express purpose of enhancing teacher wellbeing. At a time when there is a fundamental challenge in recruiting and retaining teaching staff, it raises the question – what more can we do to better support them and why hasn’t edtech, which has proved invaluable in other areas of teaching and learning – been utilised effectively to cater to these needs?
The ‘trickle-down’ effect
Understandably, supporting students lies at the heart of education, but it can also be argued that the damaging impact on the wellbeing of teaching staff is just as important to the student experience given the trickle-down effect on lesson planning, enthusiasm and commitment to the job. A recent study by University College London found that one in 20 teachers in England report a long-lasting mental health problem and that wellbeing hasn’t improved over the last three decades, highlighting the centrality of teachers’ stress on the current retention crisis.
Technology has advanced exponentially in recent years, giving us the means of extracting and assessing various data and insights to improve processes across all sectors. It’s important we take this same approach and apply it to schools to ensure they have the appropriate tools to identify the challenges teachers are facing to help implement effective action plans to improve staff wellbeing, and subsequently the overall teaching and learning experience.
The anonymity of digital platforms is a natural ally for mental wellbeing support, as teaching staff will be far more comfortable sharing their personal insights and experience – and once the problem areas are properly identified, solutions can more easily be determined.
According to the Health and Safety Executive, teaching staff and education professionals are reported to have the worst rates of work-related stress, depression and anxiety. There needs to be more focus on why this is the case and how this can be improved. Being able to recruit and retain teachers is vital for our education system, and clearly to achieve this, drastic changes need to be made to their working environment. A lack of funding is, of course, a barrier to implementing the necessary process, but by utilising the right technology, this can be achieved effectively at a relatively low cost.
Implementing a tech support network
Through an online platform, teachers have the ability to voice concerns anonymously, in a way that gives them the confidence to speak openly and honestly, knowing that their opinions will be heard and addressed, significantly helping their mental wellbeing. If, for example, a teacher feels nervous about raising a concern due to potential repercussions or feeling uncomfortable sharing views publicly, it will likely impact their job satisfaction, which will undoubtedly impact their mental health. As such, providing staff with an intuitive online platform allows them to voice their opinion in a safe and secure environment.
Certainly, most can agree that something more must be done. Teachers are vital to the very fabric of our society and we can’t afford to dismiss their mental and physical health. We can’t afford to ignore the issue, and technology seems the logical place to start.
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