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Stress Management and Self-awareness Building in Teacher Professional Development

Stress management plays a key role in classroom management and practices and impacts teacher and student well-being and retention.

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While teacher well-being is finding its way into teacher training materials focusing on improving student well-being, it is still narrowly presented as the interplay between teachers role, motivation, and factors that influence them. Only one training resource so far (Happy Teacher) has provided strategies to help teachers in refugee contexts increase their well-being through stress management. This resource, while useful, is out of touch with many of the factors effecting teacher and student well-being and is difficult to contextualize across contexts. This is a gap in programming, leaving an essential life skill important to teaching, leadership, conflict resolution, and community building being left out.

Stress management comes in two forms, proactive and reactive strategies. Proactive strategies would be changing the stressor and reactive strategies would be changing the way someone responds to a stressor. I would position self awareness building as an important part of changing the way a refugee teacher responds to stress, which could potentially change the schools climate, disciplinary practices, classroom management, and improve the learning outcomes as well as  teacher and student retention. 

Some main questions:

1. What role does stress management play in teachers responses to incidents within their classroom.

2. How can stress management support teachers in their TPD process? 

3. Are teachers  more likely to employ more inclusive and learner centered pedagogies if they have stronger stress management abilities?

4. What role does stress management and self-awareness play in teachers willingness to utilize different questioning techniques? 

Looking at self-awareness building, when learning conflict resolution (negotiation and mediation) one of the first steps is building your awareness of yourself, your reactions, needs, and anger triggers. Once you can recognize how you express your primary and secondary emotions, as well as needs, you begin to recognize them in others. This builds empathy, re-humanizes those you are in conflict with, and can have a transformative effect on conflicts, changing them from destructive to constructive. 

Being able to employ such understandings in the classroom, re-humanizing your students and being able to recognize both your own needs as a teacher as well as your students needs creates a space for proactive preventive strategies to be employed to improve the school climate for both teachers and students. 

What does peace building look like? Peace education should be viewed as a pedagogy and utilized as life skills. Re-socialization is an important part of the refugee education experience that can either empower or hinder children's futures.

 Teacher Well-being: Healing Classrooms http://healingclassrooms.org/2/4/1.html

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