Four Practical Steps to Help Teachers Flourish

Jun 19, 2024

As an educator of over 20+ years, I've seen firsthand the challenges the profession faces and how these challenges can impact wellbeing and retention. Through both positive and negative experiences, I've identified four practical steps that schools can take to help teachers not just survive, but truly flourish in their vocation.

When implemented effectively, these strategies create thriving learning environments for both students and teachers.

Connecting with Colleagues

One of the most important factors is developing strong, supportive connections with other staff members. Early in my career, I was fortunate enough to be mentored by Karyn Tillman, a highly  experienced teacher who took me under her wing. She trusted me to take on responsibilities beyond my experience level and provided guidance that boosted my confidence as a new teacher. This experience showed me the benefits of collaboration.

I encourage schools to foster regular, structured opportunities for collaboration - whether through team teaching, co-planning units of work, or simply taking time to share ideas and challenges over lunch. When I moved to a school lacking collaboration, I felt isolated and overwhelmed. Stories from teachers today still reflect these feelings of isolation, highlighting the need for schools to prioritise relationship-building among staff. 

Collaborating for Impact

In addition to informal connections, collaborating on larger-scale projects, initiatives and reforms is crucial. Whether implementing new curriculum guidelines, planning school productions or assessing student work as a faculty, working as an interdependent team achieves far greater impact and consistent outcomes than individual efforts ever could. 

From experience developing new syllabus documents and supporting large student cohorts, I understand the benefits of sharing knowledge and workload. Some school cultures prioritise unhealthy competition over cooperation, as I discovered moving from a collaborative to a toxic faculty environment. This only increases stress and burnout. Schools must encourage cooperation to reduce pressures on teachers.

Building a Supportive Community 

Developing a strong sense of community among staff where teachers feel respected, supported and able to support one another is also key. When I was fortunate enough to lead a year level cohort for several years, I felt energised thanks to the collaborative spirit and teamwork at my school. As an educational leader, I've learned the importance of clearly communicating your faculty or school's shared vision, values and strategic goals. This helps unite staff towards common student and organisational outcomes, empowering teachers in their important work.

Cultivating a Positive Culture 

Finally, schools must cultivate an environment where teachers feel trusted, respected and 

empowered to continually learn and grow in their practice. An encouraging culture of collaboration, feedback, learning and wellbeing makes all the difference. Leaders play a pivotal role in shaping the unity of the entire staff and supporting grassroots initiatives that foster these qualities of a positive culture. When teachers are thriving, students equally benefit from learning in a nurturing environment conducive to growth for all.

Please remember that you don't have to go it alone - prioritising connections with colleagues, collaborating on initiatives, and cultivating a positive culture will not only reduce stress but allow you to do your best work for students.

If you'd like to hear more tips and strategies for teacher wellbeing and learn from the experiences of others, be sure to check out my Teach & Flourish podcast. New episodes are released each Wednesday with discussions on all things teacher self-care, classroom strategies, leadership and more. You can find them on Spotify, Apple Podcasts or wherever you get your podcasts.