As teachers, we juggle lesson planning, curriculum development, student assessment, and administrative tasks while doing all we can to give engaging and effective language classes. It’s no surprise that our mental health often takes a toll, and it’s crucial to find a balance between our professional responsibilities and personal well-being.
I’m delighted that so many excellent teachers and coaches have shared their experiences in dealing with these challenges in this edition’s Focus, which concentrates on mental health in ELT. The selection is varied, and each article highlights mental health’s impact on teachers and students. By recognizing and addressing these challenges, we can create a nurturing and supportive environment that fosters both language acquisition and overall well-being.
We each have our own individual style of teaching. And regardless of our preferred pedagogical approach we will, to a greater or lesser extent, bring something of ourselves into the classroom. While I do my best to approach my work with a high level of professionalism, I find that incorporating humour into my teaching practice helps create an enjoyable classroom environment, and this is to the benefit of my learners. While I’ve been trained to take a student-centred approach, students are also interested in the person behind the teacher. I find the occasional funny anecdote, joke, or lighthearted exchange with my learners can help when the pressures of work start to build up. By embracing humour, we can create a positive atmosphere conducive to learning.
As ELT professionals, we must also recognize the importance of building support networks. Colleagues, mentors, and professional communities can provide valuable insights, advice, and encouragement. Sharing experiences and challenges with like-minded individuals fosters a sense of belonging and reminds us that we are not alone in our struggles. This is one of the joys of being part of ETAS, and for me personally one of the great pleasures of being a part of our fantastic – and ever-expanding – Publications Team.
Teachers are notorious for putting their students’ needs before their own. However, we do all need some down time. In discussing the challenges of the recent pandemic with colleagues at the recent ETAS conference, several teachers spoke freely of the need for us to prioritize our own mental health. This is clearly essential for long-term well-being, and there’s only so far we can push ourselves without something giving. Engaging in self-care activities, such as exercise, mindfulness, hobbies, and spending time with loved ones, helps recharge both our physical and emotional batteries. By taking care of ourselves, we create a more empathetic and resilient teaching community.
By addressing critical current issues in ELT with a focus on mental health, we can create an environment where teachers thrive, and students flourish. So let‘s embrace humour, cultivate support networks, and prioritize self-care. Together, we can foster a nurturing community that recognizes the well-being of all teachers and learners. And let’s continue to give great classes while also paying attention to our own mental health and happiness.
In my editorial, I referenced our highly dedicated Publications Team. After several years of excellent service, Hannah McCulloch has now stepped down as Publications Chair following a move out of ELT. Throughout her tenure, Hannah was committed to fostering inclusivity and collaboration within the teaching community. She firmly believed in providing a platform for diverse voices and perspectives, and helped to make the ETAS Journal a space where contributors from all backgrounds can contribute and thrive. Carol Waites has now taken on the role, and we couldn’t hope for a better replacement for Hannah. Carol’s keen editorial eye, coupled with her profound practical experience in training writing skills, make her the ideal candidate for this vital role. Carol has also taken on the role of Deputy Editor, along with Leanne Hayes, whose contribution to the Journal has helped ensure the level of professionalism established by Hannah and her predecessors.
If you would like to be a part of this great team of ELT professionals, we are currently looking for a new Resources Editor and someone to take on the Ask Alex column. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more details.