3 Ways Character Strengths Enhance Teacher Wellbeing

Work overload?

Have you been asked to pivot at work?! Quite frankly I am sick of that word! Some days I don’t want to try something new, I want to stick with what is tried and tested and usually works. But these are not usual times, perhaps unprecedented you may have heard, over and over again! That doesn’t mean that the constant change is easy. Change in itself is daunting, it can be exhausting. So now more than ever we need to draw on evidence based strategies to help us. Here is where character strengths shine.

How can Strengths help?

Character Strengths are a constant in this ever changing world. Remember that Professor Martin Seligman refers to character strengths as ..”Our backbone to flourishing.” These are our superpowers. There are numerous benefits to our wellbeing from character strength but let’s consider three which are of particular relevance to teachers:

  1. Strengths energise us. They represent who we really are and are easy to use. When we are juggling so many competing demands they can be our go to source to give us a boost.
  2. Strengths build relationships and reframe how we see others. Stuck with the same 30 little people day in day out? Strengths offer us a way to connect with each student in our class (and colleague). The student frustrating you with their bossiness or constant jokes may be high on leadership or humour. By acknowledging that strength in them it builds your relationship. You can then discuss how they may be overplaying their strength and need to dial it down and dial up that teamwork you saw them showing in sport.
  3. Strengths provide us with some control in the craziness.  This increased autonomy enhances intrinsic motivation. So although there may be a lot you can not control you can always choose which strength to use on a particular day or for a certain task. Do you need to draw on your humour to get you through – wear some crazy glasses for the day? Could you leave some quick notes of kindness for colleagues? Could you walk mindfully through the playground utilising your self-regulation strength?