08 SES 11 B, Professional Development and Wellbeing of Teachers and Health Educators
Parallel Paper Session<br /> Chair: Peter Paulus
The purpose of this paper is to describe basic survey results on school community staffs’ occupational well-being connected to various aspects of the worker and work, working conditions, and to outline development needs in school communities in Finland and Estonia. Earlier studies have shown that teachers' work is considered mentally demanding (Wu et al., 2006; Bauer et al., 2007; Jin et al., 2008; Yang et al., 2009). For instance, according to Bauer et al. (2007), nearly 30% of German teachers suffer from significant mental health problems. In addition to negatively affecting one’s mental resources, work-related stress and excessive work-load also cause physical (Yang et al., 2009) and psychosomatic symptoms (e.g. headaches, insomnia) (Jin et al., 2008) on teachers. A high workload for teachers is a risk factor for e.g. the emergence of pains in the neck and upper limb area (Chiu & Lam, 2007). In addition to overloading caused by one’s work, working conditions are linked to work-related stress and the well-being of school staffs (Sveinsdottir et al., 2007; Konu et al., 2010). Several international and national studies have pointed out that maintenance of school buildings, ventilation of teaching premises, acoustics, teaching aids and furniture need more development (Putus 2010).
This study was based on the premise that the occupational well-being of school staff can be promoted through actions that maintain their ability to work. These actions are: promoting individuals’ health and resources; improving the functionality of the working community and organisation; developing professional competence and improving work and working conditions (Saaranen et al., 2006). The baseline results of the action research project that targeted the areas of ‘the worker and work’ (health, mental and physical workload, individual resources and the factors influencing them such as mentoring and rehabilitation) and working conditions (physical working environment including physical, biological and chemical factors and safety at work including working postures and equipment) are presented here, along with an outline of development needs of the Finnish and Estonian school communities. The goal of these baseline results was to produce descriptive research information that could be used in the development of occupational well-being in schools within this action research project. The research framework also allowed comparison between the results gathered from the Finnish schools with the data from the Estonian schools.
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