Supporting Teacher Mental Health with Danna Thomas, Ep. 90 Buzzing with Ms. B: The Coaching Podcast

Image of woman holding notebook with a stressed look on her face. The words

Teachers are under a lot of pressure. Many are experiencing burnout and don't feel supported by their colleagues, administration, or other education stakeholders.

Instructional coaches can play a role in supporting teacher mental health by providing emotional support, building relationships, and connecting teachers with resources. They can also provide ongoing professional development opportunities for teachers to learn how to manage stress.

On this episode of The Coaching Podcast, Danna Thomas of Happy Teacher Revolution joins me to discuss coach and teacher mental health. We share ideas and tools that can help you support mental health awareness on your campus.

Stress is Contagious

Supporting teacher mental health is a relatively new field of research. During the podcast, Danna shares information about the emerging research showing teachers' mental health affects their students' performance in school. 

This means if we're not supporting the mental health and well-being of our teachers, we're not supporting our students. When teachers take care of their mental health they are better able to teach students. That's why Danna started Happy Teacher Revolution. She wanted to start a movement to support the well-being of teachers and empower them to stay in the classroom.

Why are teachers so unhappy?

During the show, we talk about why so many teachers are unhappy and thinking about leaving the profession. One reason Danna believes teachers are dissatisfied is that they are required to be flexible, but lack autonomy. Things change all the time in schools and often without any warning. It can be very stressful and make teachers feel like they have no control.

Danna says teaching is more complicated now because there are so many layers to the pandemic. Grief, trauma, and social issues are affecting both students and staff. Teachers are also working more from home and it can be hard to set boundaries.

Teacher and Instructional Coach Mental Health

Danna shares some things on the show that teachers and coaches can do to prioritize their mental health. 

1. Schedule well-being activities

If it's not on your calendar, it won't happen. Be sure to add self-care to your schedule. Danna suggests noticing how hard or easy it is to keep these appointments.

2. Find opportunities to disconnect and detach from a place of love

We all need time to ourselves. Try to find time to disconnect from work emails or let go of that to-do list.

3. Code-switching

Danna explains that having a physical cue to move from professional to personal life is helpful for some people. It can be taking off your work lanyard or changing clothes when you get home.

4. Don't wait until your battery is empty

Make time for yourself. Don't let your battery get to emergency levels before taking care of your mental health.

Supporting Teacher Mental Health

During the episode, Danna shares things that instructional coaches can do to help teachers prioritize self-care. Here are a few of the suggestions she shared during our chat.

Build relationships

When coaches build relationships with teachers they feel listened to and that's huge! Take time to talk to teachers and show them that you're interested in them.

Advocate for evidence-based professional development that supports teachers' mental well-being

For programs to be implemented effectively, the administration needs to believe in them. Coaches can help teachers by advocating for programs that support teacher mental health.

Danna also suggests checking out Happy Teacher Revolution to learn more about what they offer and how it can help you support teachers. 

Coaching and Teacher Well-Being

This episode has lots of information and tips to help coaches support teachers' mental health. If you want to hear all the detail, be sure to listen to the entire episode.

Once you've listened, think about what you already have in place to support your teachers' mental well-being. Identify something you can do to make your campus an even more supportive place. I would love to hear your ideas. You can share them on my Instagram.

If you're looking for resources to support teachers' social-emotional learning, check out my TpT resource SEL Tools for Instructional Coaches & Admin. It's full of ideas and strategies that coaches can use to help teachers process and communicate their emotions. 

Happy Coaching!

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Podcast produced by Fernie Ceniceros of Crowd & Town Creative
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