The influence of professional development on educator well-being


Educators spend much of their work day concerned about children’s well-being. They brainstorm, plan, and create daily activities to ensure others are comfortable, happy, and healthy. But how often do educators tend to their own wellness? Teachers and caregivers need to be attentive to their own well-being, but often cannot find the time or resources to do so. 

So, how can educators be supported in realistic and effective ways? How can wellness be promoted in your center? One clear and realistic method is through professional development.  

Proper professional development (PD) opportunities are a necessary resource to ensure the wellness of educators and to encourage that well-being remains a priority. This means professional development, when provided, can affect educators in positive and life-changing ways. 

  1. Professional development allows educators to connect with those in the teaching community. 

Educators can often feel overwhelmed and alone when it comes to the responsibilities and experiences of providing educational care for children. PD opportunities can remind teachers they are a part of a unique and special community. Many friendships and lifelong professional relationships are created through PD workshops and sessions. This support affects an educator’s mindset and perspective. Feeling like they are not alone, that they are understood, and they are supported by others are important parts of an educator’s well-being. This is why it is important that staff have access to other educators. It may be hard to attend educational conferences and host in-person in-service days that involve other centers or daycare workers, but there are online options, like HiMama Academy. Even listening to a webinar like the ones provided by HiMama can help your staff feel connected with someone outside your center. 

  1. Professional development encourages the growth mind-set. 

Just as we encourage the growth mind-set in children, we should be encouraging it in adults also. An article published by The Harvard Business Review discusses the importance of being able to understand that talents can be developed. This is done through working hard, accepting suggestions, and having good strategies. The growth mind-set is also about accepting that not every day will be the way you planned and acknowledging that it may not go perfectly. Now that concept is not new for educators! Paint spilling everywhere, children disliking an activity you spent hours on, a transition exercise taking 30 minutes instead of 5 – these are realities of being a childcare professional. But professional development sessions that create safe spaces for teachers to brainstorm, share stories, and try new activities will encourage your staff to develop their talents. This new idea of success helps eliminate the frustration of failure. Create professional development options for your staff that allows them to try new things without feeling the pressure of being perfect. Focusing on the growth mind-set in your center will allow your educators to be happier and more comfortable as they do their job. 

  1. Professional development allows time for self-reflection. 

Self-reflection is a crucial component of wellness. Psychology Today explains that self-reflection starts with a tranquil mind. This is usually not the case for an educator while they are on the job. An aware mind, an active mind, a stimulated mind, a creative mind? Yes. But a tranquil mind? Maybe not. And that is not a teacher’s fault. To set the stage for self-reflection, you must try to clear your mind first. Sometimes that requires breathing exercises, soft music, a quiet room, or having guiding questions ready. After work, it is hard for teachers to find time to reflect as they are pulled in many directions or just plain exhausted. This is where a great PD session can help tremendously. Offer a PD activity that enables educators to take the time to reflect on their work with compassion. Create a safe space for your staff to breathe, meditate, or journal before they engage in true reflection. Show them that you care about their well-being by encouraging them to take necessary time to clear their heads and reflect. Providing a focus for self-reflection can also help guide educators and enable them to begin a realistic routine for their own lives apart from formal PD. 

  1. Professional development provides opportunities for teachers to stay up-to-date with best practices. 

Educators that can stay informed in the field with relevant strategies and effective methods feel happier, overall. It is often hard for teachers, on their own, to seek out professional studies and courses that will challenge them, but that does not mean they don’t desire to do so. Some educators do not know where to start when it comes to staying informed with timely articles and curriculum. HiMama Academy offers many options to help your staff stay on top of new developments in the field of ECE. Being aware of best education practices will positively impact staff and children. Educator wellness is influenced by how well they feel they are doing their job and how well-informed they are. As educators, they value learning and want to be at a center where their learning is also being valued. When your staff sees how being knowledgeable in the field impacts their own experience as well as the experience of children and their families, they will have a happier and healthier mindset. 

  1. Professional development fosters confidence in teachers. 

Teambuilding.com discusses the many benefits of professional development for educators, and one major result is growing confidence. When teachers have access to effective resources like the ones offered by HiMama Academy they feel equipped and capable. They have ways of developing into more well-rounded educators and know that they are becoming better facilitators, teachers, and employees.  PositivePsychology describes self-confidence as a large factor in a worker’s happiness. Self-confidence is linked to a person’s belief in their abilities, and this belief is connected to thoughts about their past performance and their assumptions about future performance. Professional development can help build self-confidence in teachers by giving them support, allowing them to communicate and collaborate with their professional community, and keeping them prepared. Confidence is often reflected in a happier and more fulfilled lifestyle. Individuals who are confident have a greater sense of self-worth and enjoy life more than those who struggle with self-doubt. 

Every educator should prioritize their wellness, but they need help to do so. Encouraging and supplying valuable professional development will affect a teacher’s well-being in positive ways. We all want our teachers to be as happy and healthy as the children we serve, and great PD is one way to achieve that goal. 

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