Honouring Wounds and Healing Forward: Teacher Health in Relation to the COVID-19 Pandemic

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Teacher health has been researched for decades, particularly with regards to teacher stress and burnout. The COVID-19 pandemic further amplified stress levels for many teachers around the world. The purpose of the research detailed in this dissertation was to gain understanding and meaning regarding the nuances of teachers’ experiences of health in relation to the pandemic as well as to identify what can be done to better support teachers moving forward. Additionally, this research recognized the teacher as an individual who plays many roles in their life, where interaction with systems result in circumstances that can influence health. The research question used to guide this inquiry was: How might we understand teachers’ experiences of health and wellness in relation to the pandemic? An interpretive approach that embraced reflexive thematic analysis was used to further understanding and meaning regarding teacher health, and to offer ideas and possible solutions to move forward. Furthermore, the researcher’s approach to inquiry involved a complexity thinking theoretical lens. One-on-one, conversational interviews were conducted with eight primary-level teachers from a large school board in western Canada, which offered an opportunity to thoroughly explore the nuances of teachers’ experiences of health. Data analysis was conducted using reflexive thematic analysis that involved working to identify patterns and what stood out in interviews through ongoing engagement with the data. The themes and interpretations that were realized from this work acknowledge that teachers are wounded, that they have been neglected, and that their health is affected by their interactions with systems and system levels specific to context, using Bronfenbrenner’s nested systems (1979) to support this understanding. Additionally, to heal teachers, coordinated and flexible trans-systematic care is required. Furthermore, teachers’ experiences and suffering need to be recognized and heard at all system levels as a first step towards effectively caring for teachers. It is proposed that to work to heal teachers’ wounds moving forward, multiple layers and levels of support and care are necessary for in-service teachers as well as pre-service teachers, as a proactive approach to supporting future teachers.
teacher health, COVID-19 pandemic, complexity thinking, teacher wounds, interpretivism, comprehensive school health
Taylor, L. M. (2024). Honouring wounds and healing forward: teacher health in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic (Doctoral thesis, University of Calgary, Calgary, Canada). Retrieved from https://prism.ucalgary.ca.