Education Matters - News impacting schools, teachers and students
  •      

Landscapes designed to maximise play value

Jeavons Landscape Architects assist school communities to achieve high-quality outdoor environments for play and recreation, teaching and learning, and for social inclusion.

Our thoughtful designs respond to the school community and to the environment. We collaborate with students, staff and parents and prepare landscape master plans and detailed designs to solve complex landscape planning and site design issues.

We work with inter-disciplinary teams of educators, architects, and other designers.

Our award-winning, landscape architectural practice has more than 25 years’ experience and we work in urban and rural settings all over Australia. We enjoy working with:

• Primary schools (State, Independent and Catholic);
• Special schools;
• Secondary schools;
• Integrated campuses;
• Early Learning Centres on school sites; and,
• Existing schools and greenfield sites.

Our specialist skills include the following:

• Design of play settings to maximise play value, usability and inclusion;
• Design of outdoor learning spaces;
• Collaboration with children and adults;
• Design of sustainable, natural landscapes;
• Design for access and inclusion; and,
• Preparation of high quality technical drawings and specifications.

We also work in early childhood centres, children’s hubs, pre-schools and child care centres, therapeutic and sensory gardens, parks and playgrounds, and other community settings.

Telephone (03) 9387 7337, email mary@jeavons.net.au or visit our website www.jeavons.net.au for more information.

 

jeavons-web

Federal Government considering funding final two years of Gonski

During a visit to Tasmania Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said the Federal Government is considering funding the final two years of Gonski education reforms.

On his way to a radio interview in the town of Launceston the Prime Minister was confronted by protesters calling for the government to fund the full six-year implementation of Gonski funding which spurred ABC Northern Tasmania’s Leon Compton to ask whether the Government would commit.

“Well this is all being considered by the Government in the context of a very tight Budget,” Turnbull said. “Let me just say to you that the Federal support for education right across the board is increasing and it will increase in the future.

“But you know the challenge is managing it in an affordable way. So I don’t want to pre-empt what [Education Minister] Simon Birmingham would say on that but I would encourage you to talk to Simon, the new Education Minister about this and you know all I can say to you that, look my life was transformed by great teachers.

“I have got a lifelong commitment to education and supporting education and supporting means tested scholarships and things of that kind. David Gonski, by the way, happens to be a very old friend of mine, we have literally known each other, and I regret to say nearly fifty years, which is a bit frightening.

“But what David was saying was that we need more resources into education and it needs to be needs-based and you know, everybody agrees on that. The question, the debate is about how you address those needs and how do you ensure that money goes to where it is most needed and where it is going to have the most effect and how do you get the best educational outcome bang for the taxpayer buck? That is the question.”

The new Prime Minister’s slant is much different from former Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s blanket refusal to consider extending Gonski funding, giving the education sector renewed hope that the importance of needs-based funding will be recognised by the Federal Government.

The Australian Education Union (AEU), which has previously committed to make The Gonski Review and needs-based funding one of the key issues in the 2016 election, has welcomed new Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s announcement.

“The Federal Government must deliver the full six years of Gonski funding and we will be waiting to see how the new PM, and Education Minister Simon Birmingham, progress this issue,” Federal AEU President Correna Haythorpe said.

“Schools that have got Gonski funding are already using it to make a positive difference for their students.”

EM-Website-2

Casio XJ-UT310WN Ultra Short-Throw Projector

casio-web
Lamp-free projectors are muscling in on the installation market and for good reason. With the promise of a 20,000-hour lifetime on the light source, in all likelihood you’ll be replacing the projector before you’re replacing the ‘lamp’.

Casio may not be the first name you think of in projection but it’s most certainly the first name in lamp-free projection, having pioneered the use of a laser and LED hybrid light source since 2010. In fact, its entire Japanese-manufactured range is lamp free.

While more-vaunted competitors are releasing their first generation ‘laser’ projectors, Casio is into its fifth generation. Which bring us to the subject of this review, the 3100-lumen XJ-UT310WN – Casio’s first lamp-free Ultra Short-throw data projector. And even before it’s unpacked, there’s no ambiguity as to where this product is aimed: classrooms and business meeting rooms.

But before we spark up the XJ-UT310WN, let’s have a quick recap on Casio’s laser/LED hybrid light source.

LASER & LIGHT SHOW

The hybrid laser and LED light source is based on a red LED and a blue laser. Apart from providing blue light, a fluorescent element converts blue laser light into green light. The red, blue and green colours combine to form white light.

The advantages of ‘laser’ are compelling in the sub 4000-lumen market. They run cooler and can be switched on and off without a major hit on life expectancy. These types of light sources are also greener (no mercury to dispose of in old bulbs). What’s more, adding a laser into the light source provides superior brightness to an LED-only alternative, which currently remain quite feeble.

All up, you have a superior total cost of ownership (TCO) proposition, when you factor in lower power consumption and lower maintenance costs. To put that quoted 20,000-hour figure into perspective: in a typical school scenario (200 school days, five hours a day = 1000 hours use per annum) you’re looking at up to 20 years of service. Little wonder, then, that the education sector, in particular, is demanding ‘laser’.

The projection engine is DLP, with a Texas Instruments Digital Micromirror Device. This is a WXGA unit (1280 by 800 pixels) in a 16:10 aspect ratio. A small angled window on the top protects the final projection mirror which reflects the image upwards towards the screen.

Or downwards. Casio supplies the projector as standard with a wall-mount (see image). This keeps the projector up out of harm’s way and has the added advantage of reducing the amount of dust settling on the light window. In fact, dust is largely eliminated as a problem thanks to a closed structure and three-stage filter construction – that’s right, no more filter changes.

The main digital video connection is the single HDMI input. It also has two D-Sub25 inputs, and an S-Video socket for legacy gear. You can also connect the projector to a computer using the USB-B port to transfer image and movie files to the projector for display, or to mirror a computer screen. Audio inputs feed a 16W built-in loudspeaker, plus there’s a microphone socket so it can be used as a mini PA–a handy inclusion for classrooms, conference rooms and smaller lecture theatres.

In addition to Ethernet, the projector comes with a Wi-Fi dongle which plugs into a USB port. Or you can use this for USB storage for documents and pictures to be displayed by the projector.

READY FOR THE CLOSE UP

Since I only had the unit for a short time I didn’t use the wall-mount, but it went nicely on a low bench near my screen. Even though ultra-short- throw projectors are notoriously fiddly to place precisely, the XJ-UT310WN’s light weight made for easy handling and fine tuning.
The focus and evenness of brightness over the whole screen were excellent. Focus was easily set using the slider control..
There was really nothing more to the set-up, other than software installation. You can install your own start-up logo if you like, and running the projector as a display over the network or USB requires you to run applications on your computer.

ECO FRIENDLY

With the XJ-UT310WN plugged in via HDMI, and with my computer’s screen resolution set to that of the projector the results were very good indeed. If you run your PC at another resolution – say full HD – then the projector’s scaling is perfectly acceptable, although there’s an unavoidable trade-off in sharpness.

I did most of my testing with the default brightness setting, straight out of the box. I was later pleasantly surprised to learn that the default brightness setting was Eco Mode. Actually, there are five levels of Eco but even in Bright Eco mode the fan noise is whisper quiet and the brightness of the image is quite impressive – even under office fluoros. I’d go as far to say that in all but the most extreme circumstances, Eco at the highest level should be sufficient. The unit’s Dynamic Brightness control automatically adjusts the brightness to suit the lighting conditions, which goes some way to saving power.

“tap an icon on the screen and draw on the tablet display in four different colours. A second later they appear on the projected image”
There are a bunch of cool network features that worked smoothly, at least as far as I took them in the time I had with the unit. You can install software on your Windows or Mac computer to feed a screen over the network. You can also control the projector using a web browser interface from any computer on your network. And of course the unit can be managed via a Crestron control system.

One useful screen allows you to upload various files – photos, documents and videos (same as for USB) – to the projector’s internal memory. You can display these by choosing ‘Viewer’ as the input and then follow a menu to access them.

INTERACTIVITY: APP FUN

With Ultra Short-throw projectors there’s a growing expectation of some level of interactivity. In fact, for a projector pitched at the classroom, interactivity is all-but assumed. Most projectors in this space will use pens or finger touch. Casio has pursued an entirely different, app-based approach. Download the free ‘C-Assist’ app from Google Play or the iOS Appstore and you’re away. I had the Android version working quite happily on my tablet. Currently, the main facilities are for presenting files – PDFs and JPEG photos, for example – on the screen, mirroring the tablet’s camera, or displaying web pages. When you bring these up you can tap an icon on the screen and draw on the tablet display in four different colours. A second later they appear on the projected image. You can even save them for re-use.

The app approach to interactivity frees the presenter and it also means the XJ-UT310WN can be teamed with any screen rather than a whiteboard.

UP & AT ‘EM

Upon power up, the projector flashed up a logo after just six seconds, and by 10 seconds it was displaying the image from the HDMI input. At full brightness. There was no need to wait for it to warm up to the correct colour–10secondsand you’re right to go. Two presses of the power key and it switches off instantly, fan and all. If you change your mind, hit the key again and start it up straightaway, back to your picture in 10 seconds.

The unit is rated to use up to 230W maximum, or as low as 110W in the most parsimonious ‘Eco’ mode. Since the light source is effectively good for the life of the projector, your running costs are all-but limited to power usage – less than five cents per hour according to my calculations.

LONG VIEW

Perhaps the most extraordinary thing about this projector is that once installed, you don’t really have to think about it again for a decade or so. No maintenance… not even a filter replacement.

And it’s this total lack of maintenance that will prove very compelling to its intended classroom/meeting room market where it distinguishes itself as a strong, bright performer with a suite of innovative audio, video and BYOD interactivity features.

________________________________________
SPECIFICATIONS:
Display Tech: 1 x 16.5mm Digital Micromirror Device Resolution: 1280 x 800 pixel (WXGA)
Light Source: Casio Laser & LED hybrid
Lamp life: Up to 20,000 hours
Brightness: 3100 lumens
Image Size: 50 – 110 inches
Inputs: 1 x HDMI, 1 x composite video, 1 x S-Video,
2 x RGBHV/YCbCr/YPbPr (D-SUB15), 1 x USB-A (for Wi-Fi dongle), 1 x USB-B, 3 x stereo audio, 1 x mic Outputs: 1 x RGBHV (D-Sub15), 1 x stereo audio Control: 1 x Ethernet, 1 x RS-232C, 1 x Micro USB-B Dimensions (W x H x D): 415mm x 153mm x 333mm Weight: 5.7kg
________________________________________
MORE INFO
Shriro Australia: 1300 768 112
Web: www.casioprojector.shriro.com.au

Workload, tipping points and sustainable work-life balance: The OH&S challenges for educators

Australia has a significant mental health issue, and many schools as workplaces are unfortunately part of the problem not the solution, writes Phil Riley. The workload of Australian principals is rapidly approaching a tipping point, beyond which the job will become unsustainable. Many may feel they have already reached it. If principals’ work is becoming unsustainable then so is teachers’ work. The Australian Principal Health and Wellbeing Survey has pointed out some of the reasons why . But let’s start this discussion with some recent evidence, both good and bad, that gives some context to the issues. • Mental health threats are an educators’ most common occupational risk. • PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) calculated that the cost of not addressing mental health issues in Australian workplaces amounts to $10.9 billion in annually: two Gonski’s every year! • As educators make up the largest professional workforce in the country they represent a significant proportion of the $10.9 billion. • Safe Work Australia reported, “The number of compensation claims for mental disorders lodged due to work-related mental stress substantially underestimates the size of the problem.” The reason for this is because in many industries, probably including most education settings, putting in a claim risks career suicide. So sensible people don’t do it. They may be suffering but they are not stupid. • PwC found workers compensation claims represent just over 1% of the $10.9 billion! • So employers suggesting that 2-3% reductions in successful workers compensation claims against education employers are evidence that things are improving is misinformed. It is a distraction from the very real issues facing educators. • Far more troubling evidence than the relatively static workers compensation claims comes from the Teachers Health Fund, the industry health insurer. In November, 2014, the CEO, Brad Joyce, reported “the need for mental health services from members almost doubled over the past five years.” The evidence of problems is clear. Australia has a significant mental health issue, and many schools, as workplaces are unfortunately part of the problem not the solution. On all dimensions of health and wellbeing principals score significantly lower than the general population on all positive dimensions and significantly higher on all negative dimensions. While there is no data yet on Australian teachers’ scores on the same dimensions, similar studies conducted suggest that there is no reason to suggest they would score much differently from principals. You would probably like some good news now. Well there is some. PwC found that every “dollar spent on effective workplace mental health actions may generate $2.30 in benefits the organisation”1. So addressing the issues is a no-brainer. Doing so will free up significant levels of funding that could go to schools for educational purposes: a win-win scenario. But what to do? The Australian Psychological Society has been working on this and released an important report in 2013. The Psychologically Healthy Workplace has six basic conditions that have to be met. As you read through them see if you can judge how well your workplace setting measures up. If you see shortfalls, what might be done to address them successfully? Supportive leadership • Perceived organisational support. The key word here is “perceived”. When employees perceive they are supported positive benefit for all follows. If they don’t perceive it, there are two potential issues: a) There may not be adequate support, or b) There may not be adequate communication about the support that is being provided but not being perceived. • Supervisory support is concrete and specific. It shows the employee that their work is noticed, and valued by the organisation leaders. Relational and technical support provide employees with the feeling of security that enables them to back their own judgement knowing they have a place to retreat to if they overstretch. • Supportive leadership that is neither over-directive or laissez-faire. This is tricky in a school situation as all educators are all leaders of students, perhaps also teaching teams as well as followers in the organisation. So how they are treated is likely to be how they treat others. Everyone has a more senior person to report to, including the principal. • Emotional intelligence. Made popular by Dan Goleman 20 years ago, this goes directly to reading others and “walking in their shoes”. When leaders are trying to understand both the impact of their leadership and “how the troops are travelling” benefit for all ensues. • Empathy, relates to emotional intelligence. Leaders need both to really be effective. When they are employees are more able to roll with the punches of a demanding job such as teaching • Roll-modelling, is what educators do all the time. • Delegation. In psychologically health workplaces delegation is a structured way to help the organisation function, not just giving people you don’t like, jobs you would rather not do. In unhealthy work environments, delegation often comes with either criticism of the task, or lack of support/resources to complete the task successfully. • Proactive management of at-risk staff (for teachers read at-risk students). Basically everyone is watching how you handle those difficult relationships: watching to see if the actors’ dignity remains and that decisions are based on careful judgements made in everyone’s best interests. Employee engagement • The extent to which you feel involved in your job, have a say in what should happen, and some control over what actually happens. • Much of employee engagement rests on the alignment between personal and organisational views and values. Increasing accountability and prescription in education has produced a values tension for many veteran teachers who began their careers under very different value systems to now. The result has been increased attrition from teaching in the USA as veteran teachers disengage from the work. Role clarity • Understand work objectives, and their links to individual and organisational objectives. • Clear guidance about expected roles and how these translate to actual behaviours associated with the job. For example, does everyone in your work setting know how the goals of the organisation translate into daily action, or are they supposed to work that out for themselves? Learning, development and growth opportunities • Access to appropriate professional development, with opportunities to expand knowledge, skills and abilities and apply competencies gained. Appraisal and recognition • Appropriate rewards for contribution to the workplace. This does not mean performance pay. Teaching is a collaborative exercise and performance pay tends to induce competition between employees for limited resources, rather than promote collaboration toward long-term organisational goals. • Recognition of achievement of professional and personal milestones • Quality of performance assessment and feedback. Australia is well known in the organisational literature for not providing good feedback to employees. Our culture of “the tall poppy” means we tend to avoid rather than point out obvious success, and feel uncomfortable pointing out obvious under performance, because we don’t like to be seen as “dobbers”. So for Australian managers the easiest thing to do is provide little or no feedback, making performance reviews more of a time-wasting exercise than true provocations toward growth and identifying real opportunities to support employee growth. Work-life balance • Acknowledgement of employee’s responsibilities and lives outside work. • Provides help to manage these multiple demands. Benefits of a psychologically healthy workplace A psychologically healthy workplace fosters employee health and well-being while enhancing organisational performance, thereby benefiting both employees and the organisation. Benefits to employees • Increased job satisfaction; • Higher morale; • Better physical and mental health; • Enhanced motivation; and, • Improved ability to manage stress. Benefits to the organisation • Improved quality, performance and productivity; • Reduced absenteeism, presenteeism and turnover; • Fewer accidents and injuries; • Better able to attract and retain top-quality employees; • Improved customer service and satisfaction; and, • Lower healthcare costs. What can individuals do? School education will always be an intense job emotionally because education workers deal with parents’ most precious hopes and deepest fears, wrapped up in the futures of their children. No amount of resourcing will change that. So it is important to recognise that educators’ occupational risks are more likely psychological. In particular, the risk is burnout. The American Psychological Association has a comprehensive website that outlines the differences between stress and burnout. The main causes are work-related, but there are also lifestyle issues, and personality traits contribute too. You will note that many of the symptoms listed below are the opposite of the components of a psychologically healthy workplace. Work-related causes of burnout • Feeling like you have little or no control over your work; • Lack of recognition or rewards for good work; • Unclear or overly demanding job expectations; • Doing work that’s monotonous or unchallenging; and, • Working in a chaotic or high-pressure environment. Lifestyle causes of burnout • Working too much, without enough time for relaxing and socializing; • Being expected to be too many things to too many people; • Taking on too many responsibilities, without enough help from others; • Not getting enough sleep; and, • Lack of close, supportive relationships. Personality traits can contribute to burnout • Perfectionistic tendencies; nothing is ever good enough; • Pessimistic view of yourself and the world; • The need to be in control; reluctance to delegate to others; and, • High-achieving, Type A personality. The signs and symptoms of burnout fall into three categories. They are a good checklist to use for yourself and your colleagues. It is important to remember that burnout is the number one occupational risk for educators and should not be seen as a failure if it happens. It is common. It is also good to remember that burnout is a gradual process. This signs are subtle at first, but get easier to recognise with time. Early detection means it is easier to deal with because the symptoms are less severe. Physical signs and symptoms of burnout • Feeling tired and drained most of the time; • Lowered immunity, feeling sick a lot; • Frequent headaches, back pain, muscle aches; and, • Change in appetite or sleep habits. Emotional signs and symptoms of burnout • Sense of failure and self-doubt; • Feeling helpless, trapped, and defeated; • Detachment, feeling alone in the world; • Loss of motivation; • Increasingly cynical and negative outlook; and, • Decreased satisfaction and sense of accomplishment. Behavioral signs and symptoms of burnout • Withdrawing from responsibilities; • Isolating yourself from others; • Procrastinating, taking longer to get things done; • Using food, drugs, or alcohol to cope; • Taking out your frustrations on others; and, • Skipping work or coming in late and leaving early. Burnout prevention tips • Start the day with a relaxing ritual. Rather than jumping out of bed as soon as you wake up, spend at least 15 minutes meditating, writing in your journal, doing gentle stretches, or reading something that inspires you. • Adopt healthy eating, exercising, and sleeping habits. When you eat right, engage in regular physical activity, and get plenty of rest, you have the energy and resilience to deal with life’s hassles and demands. • Set boundaries. Don’t overextend yourself. Learn how to say “no” to requests on your time. If you find this difficult, remind yourself that saying “no” allows you to say “yes” to the things that you truly want to do. • Take a daily break from technology. Set a time each day when you completely disconnect. Put away your laptop, turn off your phone, and stop checking email. • Nourish your creative side. Creativity is a powerful antidote to burnout. Try something new, start a fun project, or resume a favorite hobby. Choose activities that have nothing to do with work. • Learn how to manage stress. When you’re on the road to burnout, you may feel helpless. But you have a lot more control over stress than you may think. Learning how to manage stress can help you regain your balance. If we do not change what we do from day to day we should not achieve different occupational health outcomes. This means changing work habits: (re)evaluating work practices, keeping the important ones, but letting go of the unimportant. “The chains of habit are too light to be felt until they are too heavy to be broken.” It is time for all educators to act individually and collectively to change work practices that contribute to burnout. By looking after their own health, they will also be looking after the profession. The children of Australia will be the beneficiaries.   Philip Riley, PhD, Associate Professor of Educational Leadership Principal Researcher, Principal Health and Wellbeing Survey Institute for Positive Psychology and Education, ACU Philip.riley@principalhealth.org Philip.riley@acu.edu.au Phil Riley, a former school principal, spent 16 years in schools before moving the tertiary sector. He researches the overlapping space of psychology, education and leadership. Phil has produced more than 150 publications and peer reviewed conference presentations and been awarded over $6 million in research funding. In 2010 Phil was recognised by Monash University with an inaugural Monash Researcher Accelerator award, which funded the first two years of The Australian Principal Health and Wellbeing Survey. He has since won the Dean’s award for Excellence by an Early Career Researcher, and the award for Excellence in Innovation and External Collaboration, at Monash in 2011. He moved to ACU in 2014. References [1] www.principalhealth.org [2]PricewaterhouseCoopers Australia. http://www.headsup.org.au/creating-a-mentally-healthy-workplace/the-business-case [3]Safe Work Australia [4]Teachers Health Fund CEO Brad Joyce (Nov, 2014) [5] http://www.psychology.org.au/inpsych/2014/december/phwp/ [6]Goleman, D. (1995). Emotional intelligence. New York: Bantam Books, Inc. [7]Noddings, N. (2007). When school reform goes wrong. New York: Teachers College Press. [8] Henry, A. (2005). Leadership revelations – An Australian perspective: Reflections from outstanding leaders. North Ryde: CCH Australia [9] http://www.apaexcellence.org/resources/creatingahealthyworkplace/benefits/ [10] http://www.helpguide.org/articles/stress/preventing-burnout.htm [11] Warren Buffet distilled the words of Samuel Johnson to come up with this quote. http://quoteinvestigator.com/2013/07/13/chains-of-habit/ health-web]]>

Workload, tipping points and sustainable work-life balance: The OH&S challenges for educators

Australia has a significant mental health issue, and many schools as workplaces are unfortunately part of the problem not the solution, writes Phil Riley.

The workload of Australian principals is rapidly approaching a tipping point, beyond which the job will become unsustainable. Many may feel they have already reached it. If principals’ work is becoming unsustainable then so is teachers’ work. The Australian Principal Health and Wellbeing Survey has pointed out some of the reasons why . But let’s start this discussion with some recent evidence, both good and bad, that gives some context to the issues.

• Mental health threats are an educators’ most common occupational risk.
• PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) calculated that the cost of not addressing mental health issues in Australian workplaces amounts to $10.9 billion in annually: two Gonski’s every year!
• As educators make up the largest professional workforce in the country they represent a significant proportion of the $10.9 billion.
• Safe Work Australia reported, “The number of compensation claims for mental disorders lodged due to work-related mental stress substantially underestimates the size of the problem.” The reason for this is because in many industries, probably including most education settings, putting in a claim risks career suicide. So sensible people don’t do it. They may be suffering but they are not stupid.
• PwC found workers compensation claims represent just over 1% of the $10.9 billion!
• So employers suggesting that 2-3% reductions in successful workers compensation claims against education employers are evidence that things are improving is misinformed. It is a distraction from the very real issues facing educators.
• Far more troubling evidence than the relatively static workers compensation claims comes from the Teachers Health Fund, the industry health insurer. In November, 2014, the CEO, Brad Joyce, reported “the need for mental health services from members almost doubled over the past five years.”

The evidence of problems is clear. Australia has a significant mental health issue, and many schools, as workplaces are unfortunately part of the problem not the solution. On all dimensions of health and wellbeing principals score significantly lower than the general population on all positive dimensions and significantly higher on all negative dimensions. While there is no data yet on Australian teachers’ scores on the same dimensions, similar studies conducted suggest that there is no reason to suggest they would score much differently from principals.

You would probably like some good news now. Well there is some. PwC found that every “dollar spent on effective workplace mental health actions may generate $2.30 in benefits the organisation”1. So addressing the issues is a no-brainer. Doing so will free up significant levels of funding that could go to schools for educational purposes: a win-win scenario. But what to do? The Australian Psychological Society has been working on this and released an important report in 2013.

The Psychologically Healthy Workplace has six basic conditions that have to be met. As you read through them see if you can judge how well your workplace setting measures up. If you see shortfalls, what might be done to address them successfully?

Supportive leadership

• Perceived organisational support. The key word here is “perceived”. When employees perceive they are supported positive benefit for all follows. If they don’t perceive it, there are two potential issues: a) There may not be adequate support, or b) There may not be adequate communication about the support that is being provided but not being perceived.
• Supervisory support is concrete and specific. It shows the employee that their work is noticed, and valued by the organisation leaders. Relational and technical support provide employees with the feeling of security that enables them to back their own judgement knowing they have a place to retreat to if they overstretch.
• Supportive leadership that is neither over-directive or laissez-faire. This is tricky in a school situation as all educators are all leaders of students, perhaps also teaching teams as well as followers in the organisation. So how they are treated is likely to be how they treat others. Everyone has a more senior person to report to, including the principal.
• Emotional intelligence. Made popular by Dan Goleman 20 years ago, this goes directly to reading others and “walking in their shoes”. When leaders are trying to understand both the impact of their leadership and “how the troops are travelling” benefit for all ensues.
• Empathy, relates to emotional intelligence. Leaders need both to really be effective. When they are employees are more able to roll with the punches of a demanding job such as teaching
• Roll-modelling, is what educators do all the time.
• Delegation. In psychologically health workplaces delegation is a structured way to help the organisation function, not just giving people you don’t like, jobs you would rather not do. In unhealthy work environments, delegation often comes with either criticism of the task, or lack of support/resources to complete the task successfully.
• Proactive management of at-risk staff (for teachers read at-risk students). Basically everyone is watching how you handle those difficult relationships: watching to see if the actors’ dignity remains and that decisions are based on careful judgements made in everyone’s best interests.

Employee engagement

• The extent to which you feel involved in your job, have a say in what should happen, and some control over what actually happens.
• Much of employee engagement rests on the alignment between personal and organisational views and values. Increasing accountability and prescription in education has produced a values tension for many veteran teachers who began their careers under very different value systems to now. The result has been increased attrition from teaching in the USA as veteran teachers disengage from the work.

Role clarity

• Understand work objectives, and their links to individual and organisational objectives.
• Clear guidance about expected roles and how these translate to actual behaviours associated with the job. For example, does everyone in your work setting know how the goals of the organisation translate into daily action, or are they supposed to work that out for themselves?

Learning, development and growth opportunities

• Access to appropriate professional development, with opportunities to expand knowledge, skills and abilities and apply competencies gained.

Appraisal and recognition

• Appropriate rewards for contribution to the workplace. This does not mean performance pay. Teaching is a collaborative exercise and performance pay tends to induce competition between employees for limited resources, rather than promote collaboration toward long-term organisational goals.
• Recognition of achievement of professional and personal milestones
• Quality of performance assessment and feedback. Australia is well known in the organisational literature for not providing good feedback to employees. Our culture of “the tall poppy” means we tend to avoid rather than point out obvious success, and feel uncomfortable pointing out obvious under performance, because we don’t like to be seen as “dobbers”. So for Australian managers the easiest thing to do is provide little or no feedback, making performance reviews more of a time-wasting exercise than true provocations toward growth and identifying real opportunities to support employee growth.

Work-life balance

• Acknowledgement of employee’s responsibilities and lives outside work.
• Provides help to manage these multiple demands.

Benefits of a psychologically healthy workplace

A psychologically healthy workplace fosters employee health and well-being while enhancing organisational performance, thereby benefiting both employees and the organisation.

Benefits to employees
• Increased job satisfaction;
• Higher morale;
• Better physical and mental health;
• Enhanced motivation; and,
• Improved ability to manage stress.

Benefits to the organisation
• Improved quality, performance and productivity;
• Reduced absenteeism, presenteeism and turnover;
• Fewer accidents and injuries;
• Better able to attract and retain top-quality employees;
• Improved customer service and satisfaction; and,
• Lower healthcare costs.

What can individuals do?

School education will always be an intense job emotionally because education workers deal with parents’ most precious hopes and deepest fears, wrapped up in the futures of their children. No amount of resourcing will change that. So it is important to recognise that educators’ occupational risks are more likely psychological. In particular, the risk is burnout. The American Psychological Association has a comprehensive website that outlines the differences between stress and burnout. The main causes are work-related, but there are also lifestyle issues, and personality traits contribute too. You will note that many of the symptoms listed below are the opposite of the components of a psychologically healthy workplace.

Work-related causes of burnout

• Feeling like you have little or no control over your work;
• Lack of recognition or rewards for good work;
• Unclear or overly demanding job expectations;
• Doing work that’s monotonous or unchallenging; and,
• Working in a chaotic or high-pressure environment.

Lifestyle causes of burnout

• Working too much, without enough time for relaxing and socializing;
• Being expected to be too many things to too many people;
• Taking on too many responsibilities, without enough help from others;
• Not getting enough sleep; and,
• Lack of close, supportive relationships.

Personality traits can contribute to burnout

• Perfectionistic tendencies; nothing is ever good enough;
• Pessimistic view of yourself and the world;
• The need to be in control; reluctance to delegate to others; and,
• High-achieving, Type A personality.

The signs and symptoms of burnout fall into three categories. They are a good checklist to use for yourself and your colleagues. It is important to remember that burnout is the number one occupational risk for educators and should not be seen as a failure if it happens. It is common. It is also good to remember that burnout is a gradual process. This signs are subtle at first, but get easier to recognise with time. Early detection means it is easier to deal with because the symptoms are less severe.

Physical signs and symptoms of burnout

• Feeling tired and drained most of the time;
• Lowered immunity, feeling sick a lot;
• Frequent headaches, back pain, muscle aches; and,
• Change in appetite or sleep habits.

Emotional signs and symptoms of burnout

• Sense of failure and self-doubt;
• Feeling helpless, trapped, and defeated;
• Detachment, feeling alone in the world;
• Loss of motivation;
• Increasingly cynical and negative outlook; and,
• Decreased satisfaction and sense of accomplishment.

Behavioral signs and symptoms of burnout

• Withdrawing from responsibilities;
• Isolating yourself from others;
• Procrastinating, taking longer to get things done;
• Using food, drugs, or alcohol to cope;
• Taking out your frustrations on others; and,
• Skipping work or coming in late and leaving early.

Burnout prevention tips

• Start the day with a relaxing ritual. Rather than jumping out of bed as soon as you wake up, spend at least 15 minutes meditating, writing in your journal, doing gentle stretches, or reading something that inspires you.
• Adopt healthy eating, exercising, and sleeping habits. When you eat right, engage in regular physical activity, and get plenty of rest, you have the energy and resilience to deal with life’s hassles and demands.
• Set boundaries. Don’t overextend yourself. Learn how to say “no” to requests on your time. If you find this difficult, remind yourself that saying “no” allows you to say “yes” to the things that you truly want to do.
• Take a daily break from technology. Set a time each day when you completely disconnect. Put away your laptop, turn off your phone, and stop checking email.
• Nourish your creative side. Creativity is a powerful antidote to burnout. Try something new, start a fun project, or resume a favorite hobby. Choose activities that have nothing to do with work.
• Learn how to manage stress. When you’re on the road to burnout, you may feel helpless. But you have a lot more control over stress than you may think. Learning how to manage stress can help you regain your balance.

If we do not change what we do from day to day we should not achieve different occupational health outcomes. This means changing work habits: (re)evaluating work practices, keeping the important ones, but letting go of the unimportant. “The chains of habit are too light to be felt until they are too heavy to be broken.” It is time for all educators to act individually and collectively to change work practices that contribute to burnout. By looking after their own health, they will also be looking after the profession. The children of Australia will be the beneficiaries.

 

Philip Riley, PhD, Associate Professor of Educational Leadership
Principal Researcher, Principal Health and Wellbeing Survey
Institute for Positive Psychology and Education, ACU
Philip.riley@principalhealth.org
Philip.riley@acu.edu.au

Phil Riley, a former school principal, spent 16 years in schools before moving the tertiary sector. He researches the overlapping space of psychology, education and leadership. Phil has produced more than 150 publications and peer reviewed conference presentations and been awarded over $6 million in research funding. In 2010 Phil was recognised by Monash University with an inaugural Monash Researcher Accelerator award, which funded the first two years of The Australian Principal Health and Wellbeing Survey. He has since won the Dean’s award for Excellence by an Early Career Researcher, and the award for Excellence in Innovation and External Collaboration, at Monash in 2011. He moved to ACU in 2014.

References

[1] www.principalhealth.org

[2]PricewaterhouseCoopers Australia. http://www.headsup.org.au/creating-a-mentally-healthy-workplace/the-business-case

[3]Safe Work Australia

[4]Teachers Health Fund CEO Brad Joyce (Nov, 2014)

[5] http://www.psychology.org.au/inpsych/2014/december/phwp/

[6]Goleman, D. (1995). Emotional intelligence. New York: Bantam Books, Inc.

[7]Noddings, N. (2007). When school reform goes wrong. New York: Teachers College Press.

[8] Henry, A. (2005). Leadership revelations – An Australian perspective: Reflections from outstanding leaders. North Ryde: CCH Australia

[9] http://www.apaexcellence.org/resources/creatingahealthyworkplace/benefits/

[10] http://www.helpguide.org/articles/stress/preventing-burnout.htm

[11] Warren Buffet distilled the words of Samuel Johnson to come up with this quote. http://quoteinvestigator.com/2013/07/13/chains-of-habit/

health-web

Leaders in Positive Education

Western Australia’s North Woodvale Primary School are leaders in Positive Education which stems from Martin Seligman’s research that brings together the science of Positive Psychology with best practice and teaching. It encourages individuals, schools and communities to flourish. Rachael Robertson reports.

North Woodvale has adopted the Kids Matter Framework and utilises the School Drug Education and Road Safety (SDERA) resources to implement resilience education for all years (K-6).

You might be asking- why implement Positive Education in primary school? Well, I learnt that suicide is the leading cause of death for young Australians between the ages of 15-24. I also found that mental health difficulties will affect approximately 1 in 7 Australian primary school children. 1 in 7! With around 50% of mental health difficulties occurring before the age of 14, North Woodvale realised that we have the opportunity to make a difference by building positive mental health at a primary school level.

The Australian Curriculum General Capabilities for self-management found that if students are taught how to be resilient, they find it easier to manage themselves, relate to others, develop a sense of self-worth, resolve conflict and feel positive about themselves and the world around them.

North Woodvale created a Positive Education committee at the end of 2014. Our committee is diverse. It consists of administration, teachers, education assistants and a parent representative. I am the team leader of this committee and am passionate and excited about this initiative. We strive to give children the knowledge to deal with challenging of difficult situations. We want to equip them with the skills to be able to deal with struggles they may come across now, or later in life.

Design competition

At the beginning of 2015, I decided to run a new marketing campaign for Positive Education. I ran a design competition to create the school banner. After deliberating with the team, the slogan- ‘Think Happy, Be Happy’ was selected. Students were asked to create a poster that would reflect the statement making it relevant to them at North Woodvale. Student response was overwhelming with over 80 students submitting a poster. I used a Variety grant to print the design onto a banner. Due to the overwhelming response from students, the committee decided to select the best 5 illustrations and print them onto postcards and magnets that students could send to family and friends.

Grow Your Mind Day

I had the opportunity to work collaboratively with the staff and students from Geelong Grammar (GG) in a session titled – a living library of Positive Education in Action at the annual Positive Schools Mental Health and Wellbeing Conference. While covering key concepts such as mindfulness, gratitude and resilience, GG also shared the success of an annual ‘Grow Your Mind Day’. The day offered a range of activities focusing on student’s wellbeing. I was so inspired, I devised a plan and took it to my wonderful committee. The date was set for the end of term 3 and the planning and organising process has commenced. Teachers selected and were responsible for one activity on the day as students and parents moved around to different stations. The P & C association organised a lovely morning tea for the parents that attended.

The activities were fun, engaging and taught students the skills to deal with challenging situations. Activities ranged from creating mindful glitter jars in junior primary where students counted their breaths while the glitter dropped to the bottom, to positive chalk drawing, to creating flour filled stress balls in upper primary. I used a $250 grant from the West Australian Association for Mental Health enabling us to purchase resources for the day. We invited the fitness programs Aspire Kids and Crossfit Kids to come and conduct a whole school fitness session. Healthy body, healthy mind!

I contacted the West Coast Eagles and Perth Wildcats requesting players to come to come along as sports players are role models for students. They sent Rowan Powell from West Coast and Damian Martin and Jarrod Kenny from the Wildcats, who not only engaged students, staff and parents; they were motivational, discussing the hardships and joy of being a professional sports player.

We had an amazing atmosphere at our school as Channel 9’s ‘The Today Show’ came in the morning to present the weather.

posed-web