Module 3 – How can we help mitigate stress in the workplace?
Schools are complex institutions. In the time that I have been a classroom teacher (20 years!), I have witnessed incredible change to our role as educators, and in schools themselves. I found it really interesting listening to Jennie Bales the other night in one of our online meetings regarding our upcoming assessment. We have to consider the drivers of change and the future educational agenda. We have to consider 21st century integrated learning and the skills that our students need for 21st century education and how we develop 21st century globally competent individuals. I know all of this…but then Jennie said that we’re already a quarter of the way into this 21st century! I then thought about how much has actually changed since I started teaching in 2001. No wonder schools sometimes feel like a pressure cooker! Every single colleague I work with is stressed. Including me! So how do I mitigate some of that stress on my colleagues as a leader in the schools?
Well, I think that if we lead from the middle, we can incorporate and offer incredible support to our classroom teachers. We can be leaders of information and digital literacy, offering support in the implementation of digital literacies, the ethical use of information and assist with the sourcing and evaluation of information.
Reinsel Soulen (2020) offers some practical advice for supporting first-year teachers, but there is so much that lends itself to the leadership approaches a Teacher Librarian (TL) could offer. She suggests that as instructional leaders we can develop collaborative partnerships and be professional development facilitators. If we can offer library programs that offer guidance on instructional design to integrate critical thinking, technology and information skills by working with classroom teachers, we are offering a service that assists in establishing learning objectives and goals, developing and designing assessment and implementing assessment strategies (AASL, 2009). I really believe that if we can offer such support, this does in turn ‘lighten the load’ on teachers and with this shared support, we can also offer some teachers who are overwhelmed with their workload, emotional and practical support. By offering support like this, it can empower teachers (Reinsel Soulen, 2020), and also build trusting relationships and bonds with the classroom teacher. It is this positive collegiality that can offer a supportive space for classroom teachers, and assist in bridging the gap between library and the classroom. This will provide a positive impact upon teaching and learning and improve the pedagogical practices for both the classroom teacher and the learning outcomes of the students (Lipscombe et al., 2020).
And if else fails fails, a warm smile, encouraging words and a cup of tea can work wonders in helping those who are stressed….never underestimate the power of a good cup of tea!
American Association of School Librarians (AASL). 2009. Empowering Learners: Guidelines for School Library Programs. Chicago. ALA.
Lipscombe, K., Grice, C., Tindall-Ford, S., & DeNobile, J. (2020). Middle leading in Australian schools: professional standards, positions and professional development. School Leadership & Management 40 (5).
Reinsel Soulen, R. (2020). The continuum of care. Knowledge Quest, 48(4). 36 -42.