As Educators around the world are transitioning back to onsite learning I have been reflecting on the enormous load our Educators have carried over the past few months and what has caught my attention is the role of struggle within wellbeing.

Just prior to lockdown I was teaching a group of students whom you would consider to be really struggling.  Success for these young people at school looked very different from most other contexts.  Simply arriving at school was deemed a win and staying regulated long enough to do any form of work was a success.

What was interesting was that at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic I watched attendance, engagement, and performance increase in this group of students.  As the rest of the world went into chaos these students seemed to be experiencing a lift in wellbeing.  Was it that home was now more unstable than usual thus school now more appealing?  Or was it something else?

As I packed up my desk in this particular context I could not help but ponder the lift that I had witnessed.  I wondered that as young people for whom struggle and chaos was a part of everyday life, were they now taking some sort of comfort in the rest of the world “joining them” now that fear and unsettledness that was more congruent with their day to day experience of the world?

A few weeks later I was digging into some data around the wellbeing of Educators taken during this same time period.  What struck me about this data was that it somewhat reflected the scene I had watched play out in my classroom.  It appears that it is possible for educators to thrive despite struggle, and it is possible for them to not experience wellbeing even in the absence of struggle.  Curiously Educators who classified themselves as really struggling showed an increase from pre-COVID-19 across multiple wellbeing indicators, notably, they felt an increase in psychological safety. While 77.4% of Educators reported that their levels of struggle had increased our data suggests that if schools can improve the knowledge, tools, and support available to educators to help them care for their wellbeing that experiences of struggle can build resilience.

I’ll be interviewing Dr. Peggy Kern from the University of Melbourne’s Graduate School of Education on Thursday 18th of June at 4.00 on Zoom.  We will share the key findings of this report and along with ideas to put immediately into action to support those working in our schools to support their wellbeing.

If you’d like to join us, you can register for free by clicking here

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