Session 357: Healthy Living 4 Teachers

Thursday 8th June 2017


The paradox of leading a healthy lifestyle and being a teacher is evident to many educators who struggle to maintain a balance between the demands of the job opposed to keeping physically and emotionally fit. Is it possible to strike a healthy balance between the two? If so, what’s the secret?

Following on from the #UKEdChat Online Poll, this Twitter chat will explore how teachers can maintain healthy living. The session explored the following choices available that can impact on healthy living:

  1. Do/Should schools have a responsibility for teachers health? If so, how can they achieve this?
  2. Could schools support the leisure activities of their staff? Why? How?
  3. How can teachers incorporate exercise into a time pressured day?
  4. When time is an issue, how can teachers ensure they and their family get a balanced diet?
  5. Which hobbies lend themselves to the lifestyle of a teacher?
  6. We joined the profession in the knowledge that it is stressful and impacts on our health. Should we complain now?

The summary

Teachers are great at looking after, caring for, and ensuring the success of their students. The amount of time given for planning, marking, assessments etc. is substantial, and a lot of time is given before even stepping in front of a group of pupils. What is the negative downside of this? The health of teachers. Each and every one of them. This #UKEdChat session wanted to explore how teachers can take care of themselves, as well as exploring how schools can support staff.

The first question explored whether schools should have a responsibility for teachers health? If so, how can they achieve this? A popular comment was made immediately in that schools are communities, whose responsibility it is to look out for each other – no matter of status within the community, and although Headteachers should recognise that certain times of year can be particularly high stress for staff, teachers also need to remember the pressures other colleagues are put under by the systems worked in. Schools need to build a culture in school where is it OK to talk about teacher health and well-being. Leaders and managers needs to be truly approachable. It’s down to everyone within the community to understand the pressures everyone is under. As educators, we expect pupils to support their peers but it is rarely filtered through the staff hierarchy.

In considering the leisure activities that schools could support staff with, a reminder was given that there are still local authorities that offer employees discounts to leisure centres and to use those facilities and offers, but also to offer a range of activities that will tempt different staff. Another great example was shared in that a school would have a health and welfare week once a term and it was effective – improving relationships too. Other suggestions included: Providing after school opportunities for staff to engage in relaxing clubs such as aerobics, yoga, meditation; organise a staff running club; after school badminton for staff; promote clubs or leisure opportunities in the local area. Maintain links with leisure facilities and update staff when offers appear. Must be a choice. One person’s idea of leisure maybe another person’s idea of torture. However, it was acknowledged that TIME has got to be the number 1 factor.

For school leaders and managers, an important point was raised that they should be providing guidance on reasonable working hours and expectations. Teaching staff the basics of getting good sleep.

In terms of keeping physically fit, the session explored some exercise ideas which people use alongside their teaching practice. Common physical activities shared included: walking; running; cycling; going to the gym; dancing; swimming; yoga etc. But even little difference can make a big difference. Do you really need to park as close to the school door as possible? How far from school can you park, to allow you a good 5-10 minute walk each way every day? Again, with exercise, community and collaboration can be a great motivating factor, so schedule some group sessions with friends or colleagues, and you are more likely to attend these, as you will feel obliged not to let the group down. Remember, afterwards you will be glad you did it. Early morning or evening exercise! Make it habitual and not just a one off.

Diet. Yes, avoiding the sweets, chocolate and cakes needs to be done! Sorry! Many teachers also support a family as well, so planning is key here. Plan ahead, use online shopping, and plan the family menu for the week, involving all in the family. Make batches of food when have time and freeze – slow cookers are great in the winter – and in the summer, salad takes 5 mins! Additionally, do your food shop after a workout so a healthy lifestyle is on the mind.

Allowing oneself some time indulging in a hobby is a great way of getting your mind away from the job, and a hobby where you become absorbed is best, but don’t stress about it. Find a hobby or activity that relaxes you. See the archive below for a selection of hobbies shared during the session.


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The Editorial Account of UKEdChat, managed by editor-in-chief Colin Hill, with support from Martin Burrett from the UKEd Magazine. Pedagogy, Resources, Community.

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