How To Change Teacher Burnout And Wellbeing In Catholic Schools?

Jonathan Doyle Catholic Speaker

We recently sat down with Jonathan Doyle to talk about his work over almost thirty years addressing the topic of teacher burnout, resilience and wellbeing in Catholic schools. This interview offers Catholic principals and educational leaders some insights into the major issue of teacher burnout and wellbeing and what Catholic leaders can do to start making a difference.

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    What are the major issues that Catholic principals deal with in the area of burnout and teacher wellbeing?

    Catholic Teacher Burnout Stress - Catholic Education Burnout Stress
    Teachers face mental health challenges, exhaustion, and burnout, affecting their personal lives

    Burnout, staff turnover, stress and poor wellbeing are massive issues for the Catholic education sector and for so many principals. Most new teachers leave the profession within five years. Many teachers are struggling with poor mental health, exhaustion and burnout which then spills over into their personal lives. Catholic principals and leaders are what Pope John Paul II called, ‘people of goodwill.’ They have a desire to give their teachers both practical and philosophical tools to better manage their stress and professional overload.

    Next to student enrolments and finances, teacher resilience and wellbeing are crucial to modern Catholic principals and leaders. The ability to attract, retain and motivate teachers is just crucial at the moment. It is hard to get good teachers and it is hard to keep them. If the staff cohort is happy and feels respected and cared for then a school can be a very positive place. The opposite is also very true.

    What motivates Catholic principals and leaders to seek out services like yours?

    I think they hear the undercurrent. They can tell if staff are miserable, resistant or in constant conflict with each other and with students and parents. I think they can also look at raw metrics like staff turnover and see the problem is real. They can also deal with issues like staff burnout, depression, increasing sick days etc. I think the chance to help their staff flourish and do better is something they really do care about. They want to succeed as leaders and to do that they need to build a happy and positive staff community.

    Why haven’t they been able to solve their problems before? What is standing in their way?

    Catholic Schools and Educators are always busy moving from different crisis to crisis
    Catholic schools are always busy, handling one problem after another

    Most of the time Catholic schools are intensely busy places moving from issue to issue or crisis to crisis. I think principals can often sense that staff are unhappy but they are not sure exactly how to address it. They need to be handed a clear solution that frames the problem and offers an easy solution.

    Principals are builders, they like to build successful school communities that win the appreciation and support of parents and other external stakeholders like bishops or head office education leaders. Often, what is standing in the way is the sense of perceived complexity. Mental health, resilience and wellbeing for Catholic teachers is a multi-faceted challenge. I think there can be some paralysis by analysis. Principals want to take action but they are not sure what to do first or what is the optimal solution.

    What goals and aspirations do Catholic principals and leaders have in this area of teacher wellbeing? What is important to them?

    Catholic Principal Teacher Goals New Programs
    Effective Catholic leaders actively engage in activities to enhance the school's reputation.

    Principals value being seen as good leaders. They value the positive feedback of parents or staff or others, as they should. They want to be seen as proactive and doing things to make things better. Some principals get engaged by new buildings, some get engaged with new programs and curriculum.  The least effective principals are just the ones that stay stuck and stationary. Effective Catholic leaders want to be seen to be doing things and growing the school’s reputation. They want the staff and students and parents to be happy and appreciative of their efforts. To be fair, many of them really do care a lot about what they are trying to do. They do care about their school community and they want it to be a healthy place.

    What do you offer Catholic schools? What do they get when they book you to speak?

    They get hope! We aim to inspire people with the belief that things can change, we trade in hope and possibility. And we help people move from learned helplessness to making decisions about how to direct their own story. People come away inspired and with renewed optimism that they are actually in the right place, that they are not alone and that there are practical and spiritual things they can do to reclaim their personal and professional lives.

    What makes your approach unique or different from others? How does your offering stand out from competitors?

    Jonathan Doyle Engaging a Room Full of Catholic Educators and Leaders
    Jonathan Doyle engaging a room full of Catholic educators and leaders

    What makes us different is the fusion between faith-based principals and high level personal development, peak performance and business skills. Also, most speakers and trainers in this space are boring. We are highly engaging. We care about the people in the room and want them to win. But, in general, what makes us different is that we mix deep Catholic faith with cutting edge principals on personal development and optimized individual and team performance.

    If you could speak to Catholic principals and leaders about staff burnout and resilience what would you want to say?

    “Dear Principal,

    You know that your teachers are dealing with a very complex and demanding educational landscape. They are dealing with so many pressures from student mental health issues to family issues to the impact of technology as well as more pressures and demands regarding curriculum and government mandates. If you don’t support them then things will get worse and you will see more sick days, more staff leaving and more conflict and stress among the current staff community. Why not book one of the Catholic educational speakers in the world to come in and inspire and support your teachers and start a process of renewal and better wellbeing today!

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    Jonathan Doyle


    I’m on a mission to liberate the potential of the incredible people that make up your organisation, school, or business.

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