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  • Tiffany Beason, PhD

A Call to Action to Support Educator Well-Being

Tiffany Beason, PhD

Director of Cultural Responsiveness and Equity



We are nearly two months into the new year, a point where many educators are likely pursuing goals related to self-care. Promotion of educator well-being, including both self-care practices and school-level well-being supports, helps advance school mental health. Educators provide academic, emotional, and social support to students, and they benefit from supports to be well while they fill the metaphorical cups of students. However, many educators are experiencing fatigue due to school organizational climate concerns and barriers to being well at work. Factors such as balancing competing academic and social and emotional learning needs of students, inadequate administrative or district support, negative school climate, and systematic racism and oppression, are some common organizational barriers to educator well-being.


Some schools and districts, with good intention, implement programming to support educator well-being without first conducting assessments to better understand what educators need and want to be well. It benefits everyone when schools prioritize educator voice and input in the process of supporting their well-being. There is a new resource that helps schools do this. The National Center for School Mental Health recently launched the Organizational Well-Being Inventory – Schools Version (OWBI-S; access at: www.theSHAPEsystem.com), an assessment tool that collects information about school well-being. There are 8 domains assessed, including self-care; professional quality of life; diversity, equity, inclusion, and access (DEIA); and professional development and recognition, among others. Educator responses can be used to guide prioritization of well-being related programmatic and policy changes.


Schools are encouraged to examine the OWBI-S results across all domains, including the domain focused on DEIA. DEIA results can inform processes to identify and address inequities that impact organizational well-being.  


As we approach the end of Black History Month, and lean into this topic of educator well-being, I am reminded of a quote from a Black American, womanist, and queer scholar in history, Audre Lorde. She stated, “Caring for myself is not self-indulgence; it is self-preservation and that is act of political warfare.” This quote highlights that our work to take care of ourselves is necessarily an act of resistance when we are in environments or systems that undermine our well-being or humanity. It is a reminder to each of us to prioritize our well-being by intentionally leaning in to our care for self. It is also a call to action for organizations, including schools, to prioritize policies and practices that foster organizational transformation to promote well-being for all.

 

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