Lynn is the Editor at Teacher Toolkit. With 20 years of primary teaching and SLT experience, she has been an Assistant Head, Lead Mentor for ITT and SENCO. She loves to write and also has her own SEMH and staff mental health blog: www.positiveyoungmind.com. Lynn…
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Has teaching work-life balance affected your personal relationships?
Education Support’s UK (Teacher Wellbeing Index 2021), found 72% of school staff described themselves as stressed.
NetSupport has published an independent research report on the impact of teaching on personal relationships.
Why are relationships so important?
The report states, ‘As humans, we have this innate desire for connection. These connections benefit us in many ways: they give us a sense of belonging, joy, stability, support, challenge, and growth. So, if good relationships positively impact our mental health and wellbeing, understandably when relationships break down, we see negative impacts.’
This report sets out to discover the impact of teaching on personal relationships.
Finding out, for example, how many teachers are affected, what kind of relationships are impacted, the causes of this negative impact, and what if any kind of workplace support is in place for teachers.
There has previously been a lack of accessible data in this area. Kat Cauchi (R.I.S.E magazine) decided to find out more information on this important topic through social media.
The research sample was gleaned from Twitter and totalled 2939 respondents who took part in an anonymous survey. This was triangulated with other polls and articles including the Teacher Toolkit article, ‘Why are England’s Teachers Stressed?’.
- 80.6 per cent of respondents stated that teaching has negatively impacted on their personal relationships.
- Of those 80.6 per cent of respondents, 54.3 per cent cited that teaching had negatively impacted on a combination of their partner, friends and family relationships.
- Of those 80.6 per cent of respondents, 52.3 per cent cited work-life balance as the main negative impact. Other impacts included stress, anxiety and exhaustion.
- Of those 80.6 per cent of respondents, 66.7 per cent felt unable to prioritise and maintain personal relationships whilst teaching.
- 54.9 per cent of respondents stated that their setting does not give them support in areas such as mental health.
- 69.8 per cent of respondents have considered leaving teaching or taking time out due to a negative impact on personal relationships.
There were also six consistent reasons for stress while teaching cited in this survey (with the two largest causes being excessive workload and work-life balance):
- excessive workload
- pupil/student behaviour
- unreasonable demands from managers
- work/life balance
- lack of trust from management
The Twitter surveys show that many teachers have experienced or are experiencing a negative impact on their personal relationships from teaching, most commonly from key stressors such as excessive workload, unreasonable expectations from management, poor work-life balance etc.
Disappointingly, fewer than half of teachers feel supported by their schools with their relationships which causes the problem to continue to grow and, in some cases, can cause relationship breakdowns or teachers having to take time off or leave the profession altogether.
Teachers need support from their schools, but what they receive is out of their control, so what is in their control can help them get a better balance between work and relationships.
Personal relationship support
The report suggests some ideas of things to do to prioritise and maintain personal relationships:
- Block out time for family/friends/partners.
- Communication is everything.
- Be more aware of your feelings and behaviour so you can get the right support.
- Ask for help, whether from your school, a trusted friend/colleague/family member
or an external service.
- Set aside time for yourself.
- Practise saying ‘no’ to extra work you don’t have time for.
- Talk about it.
- Thank people for their support and show your gratitude.
- Try not to be defensive to a partner. Explain instead why you need to undertake work and make a compromise on when you can make time for your partner.
There are further ideas within the report for schools and individuals to prioritise this area, as well as personal accounts and support from specialists and practising teachers.
It is clear that a lot more needs to be done in our schools to support work-life balance and wellbeing to enable staff to maintain positive personal relationships outside of school.
Download the full paper
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