Teachers’ wellbeing and mental health: an #ELTchat summary

Following an #ELTchat on the topic of well-being and mental health on 7 March, I am sharing this summary by #ELTchat slow-burn moderator, Matthew Noble, which has just been published.  It has been beautifully rendered as a series of sketchnotes. One example is shown below.  The chat took place on the same day as my webinar for International House, which I wrote about on my previous post. Fellow #ELTchat Moderator, Angelos Bollas, noticed that he could not attend the webinar and suggested the topic for that evening’s chat. Please check out the full summary on Matthew’s blog.  Cheers, Angelos and Matt.

Matthew Noble sketchnote img_e9417


  1. It’s worth going to Matthew Noble’s blog Muddles into Maxims to see the whole “sketchpad”..it is SO well done – and “sticky” in that the details are easy to remember. Great job.

    Topic – of course crucial.

    Phil, I teachAdult ESL – LINC – Language Instruction to Newcomers to Canada. I went to a Government sponsored PD Conference on Friday – kudos to the organizers. There was much great information and sharing relevant to our learners – many of whom are refugees, some victims of torture, most dealing with feeling of loss and diminuation, facing the challenges of building a new life. Throughout the introductory remarks and the panel speakers’ presentations the message was we instructors/teachers play an important role in helping newcomers adapt – not just teaching them language. We welcome them to the class, their classmates become their friends, we help them deal with the emotional dificulties of being a newcomer, having left everything that defined them behind. Our welcoming smiles and support may even help prevent the further development of mental issues. We need to educate ourselves about the signs of distress, recognise isolating behaviour, note changes in mood and appearance. Try to notice changes, head off decline into deeper mental problems. Make adjustments, adapt expectations.

    As I listened I felt there was such a huge disconnect between how we are suppsed to deal with our learners – and how the powers thst be deal with us. We all have mental issues to one degree or another. Teaching is wonderful – but demanding and stressful. Add to this the imposition of a stringent non differentiated, “one size fits all” programs that we are forced to implement, geared at data collection and teacher accountability rather than learning, and you have a recipe for trouble.
    In our case there is no compunction about demanding unpaid teacher time and minimising the huge stress the unproven experiment is causing ESL teachers (to the point that a great many simply quit, others have gone on stress leave).

    I asked (ask) that WE also be treated with the same empathy we are asked to use with our learners. Not only because it is the right thing to do – treat teachers with respect, courtesy, consideration, compassion – but at the end of the day if you don’t take care of your resource people – who will be there to support the newcomers?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi eslclaudie. Thanks for the comment. You’re right that the sketchpad is so well done and that’s why I have redirected people to Matthew’s blog. I’ve shared it because it fits in with my ongoing series of posts about this topic and because I was heavily involved in the chat. I think there is, indeed, often a disconnect between the support expected to be shown to our learners and that given or available to ESL/EFL teachers. In my previous post I gave to the background to a webinar I gave on this topic a couple of weeks ago. In it I highlight the term ‘human resources’ and the difficulty with that phrase. A resource is something that is used for a purpose, only has value when it is in use, and is disposed of the moment it ceases to be used.

      Liked by 1 person

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