Most school administrators understand the importance of mental health awareness in educational establishments, that’s why we’ve gathered tips for school administrators. To this end, there are usually procedures in place to help students to feel more comfortable, which ultimately helps them to succeed.
However, administrators often overlook the fact that adults also have to deal with anxiety – and in an industry where as many as four out of five teachers will suffer from work-related stress over the course of the academic year, it’s important to try to reduce worry among colleagues.
Thankfully, there are several ways administrators can help to lessen anxiety among teachers, including the following:
1. Be as transparent as you can.
When you receive an invitation to a meeting with a school administrator without being forewarned of the topic, this can naturally cause anxiety.
When a meeting invitation suddenly lands in an inbox or calendar with no explanation as to why, the anxious brain will tend to go into overdrive, thinking things like:
- Am I about to be fired?
- What have I done wrong?
- Am I capable of performing this role?
- Have I upset anybody?
The best thing to do is to clearly state the purpose of all meetings, to avoid your teachers slumping into a downward spiral of ‘worst-case scenario’ type thinking. Even if the meeting is to reprimand a member of staff, your teachers deserve to understand this so that they can have the time to prepare their case or work on their apologies if needs be.
2. Tell teachers when you intend to observe their classes.
Even if you have a great working relationship with your teachers, chances are that an unannounced visit to observe or audit their classroom could have a negative effect and may induce anxiety. If it’s possible, drop your teachers an email or let them know in the staff room that you’ll be along to observe their lessons at some point during the next day or two. This will allow them to prepare themselves for your arrival, which means they’ll be at ease when you walk through the door. When you arrive, be certain to make eye contact, wave or offer a friendly “hello” to try to make things a little less staid. After all, you want to see your teachers performing in as natural an environment as possible – and being informal can help facilitate this.
3. Don’t say “we need to chat later.”
Avoid passing a colleague and saying things like “we need to talk later” or “I need to see you about something”, as this is just another way of creating anxiety via an unknown agenda. Don’t leave your teachers in a spiral of ‘worst-case scenario’. Say what you have to say there and then or leave it for another time. Your teachers already have a heavy enough workload without getting anxious about being summoned to see the administrator.
4. Don’t be afraid to praise your teachers
If you see a teacher performing well, be sure to let them know. This can be as simple as a brief email, a quick word in the hall or a thank you card for going above and beyond the call of duty. Teachers are used to hearing negative things from parents and administrators alike, and it’s amazing how much a small bit of positivity can do for staff morale.
5. Develop a culture of trust in your school
If you can demonstrate that you care about your staff, they will be more at ease in your presence. This means getting involved with things like Teacher Appreciation Week and making a point of listening to your teachers. This will have a huge impact on their attitude towards the workplace, which in turn influences the entire culture of the school. Happy teachers are more likely to put more effort into their roles, which in turn makes for a more successful establishment.