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Lessons you look forward to (and the ones you dread) and an Update on Wellbeing...

22 September 2020

It’s been a somewhat sneezy return to school  🤧, with illnesses sweeping through children and teachers as they spend time in close proximity for the first time in six months. It hasn’t been helped by insufficient capacity in the COVID-testing system.

Last week on Monday (14th), 4% of you said you were isolating at home for COVID-related reasons. On Thursday, 1-in-10 schools were not fully open, with at least one year group or class needing to isolate at home.

We also know you’re finding school completely exhausting, with your feet being the body part that’s hurting most! Make sure you’re resting them in the evenings (if you can)!

1. Not All Dread

Still, you remain a positive bunch 😊. When asked how many lessons you were looking forward to this week, 62% of you said all or almost all of them! This is a higher figure than when we have asked in the past (though that was always in February when the sheen had perhaps worn off some of your classes!)

That said, levels of lessons that you are ‘dreading’ are very similar to last February – which is a notoriously difficult time of year. Whilst less experienced teachers tend to dread more lessons, it is notable that almost 1-in-10 very experienced teachers were dreading four or more lessons in the coming week.

2. Teacher Wellbeing During Lockdown

Today, over on the Datalab website, we are publishing a series of blogposts describing how teachers coped with lockdown earlier in the year. You will remember that we asked you about your work-related anxiety A LOT during the last academic year for a research project. Here are 4 facts we learnt about teacher wellbeing:

1. Headteachers have been suffering very high work-related anxiety since mid-March and we risk losing them from the profession. During lockdown, work-related anxiety fell somewhat for state-school teachers overall, but headteachers experienced high anxiety as they dealt with an endless stream of complex administrative and pastoral issues.

Given there is no end in the complexity of managing schools, we now face a serious risk that headteachers will leave the profession – particularly those with sufficient pension pots to retire early. Do try to check-in with your own headteacher to see how they are doing.

2. After the first few occasions, going into school during a pandemic wasn’t that anxiety-inducing. But ‘live’ video teaching was! Using your answers over the summer term, we went back and looked at your level of anxiety against the days when you said you had gone back into school.

At first, going into school was associated with high anxiety, but, over time, it subsided as teachers became familiar with new routines. Instead, teachers who were either pre-recording videos or delivering ‘live’ lessons were the ones experiencing the most anxiety during lockdown, which explains why the anxiety of private school teachers rose over this period as they were doing the most online-video teaching.

3. Women with children at home saw the largest rise in work-related anxiety during lockdown. Overall, women tend to report higher anxiety but even when we controlled for pre COVID-19 anxiety levels (and age/school sector) we found that their increase in anxiety was greater than for men. All teachers with their own children at home saw their anxiety levels rise more than teachers without children. However, it was mothers rather than fathers who saw their anxiety rise the most.

4. When asked, you felt that the impact of lockdown on your psychological health was negative… …but this wasn’t reflected in our longitudinal mental wellbeing scales. Two-thirds of you ‘agreed’ that the COVID-19 outbreak had an negative impact on your psychological health, a response which is typical of other population groups. However, at Teacher Tapp we had measures of your mental wellbeing from October 2019 and could see that, overall, it hadn’t changed so much. Your mental wellbeing had improved on some questions (having more energy to spare, feeling relaxed, thinking clearly, feeling loved) and deteriorated on other questions (feeling useful, feeling optimistic about the future, being interested in new things) – but, in the round, was very similar.

And those of you who had the poorest mental wellbeing prior to lockdown saw the greatest improvement in both your work-related anxiety and broader mental well-being.

Do go to the Datalab blogs today to read more…

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