‘We are not in this alone’ – Teachers form Reflective Circles to combat stress
Not an advert for a new sci-fi movie, but an interesting study, reported recently in The Conversation by Anne
Southall, Fiona Gardner and Lindy Baxter of LaTrobe University in Victoria, Australia. They report the results of a three-year
trial in which teachers tried out a collaborative strategy to combat stress that has been used widely in the health service. School
leaders, teachers and support staff met regularly to discuss on their work in Reflective Circles. Forty staff from primary and specialist schools met regularly to share their concerns and emotional responses to the challenges of
school life. In small groups of colleagues, they explored different perspectives on professional and personal issues. Southall and colleagues explain that the focus was on ‘building relationships and self-awareness rather than on content and curriculum, or
accountability and performance’. Being able to acknowledge and talk through the emotional side of teaching as well as exploring particular problems in a supportive atmosphere proved beneficial in combating the build-up of stress that had been generated by teaching during Covid restrictions. Further details of the Reflective Circles model of critical reflection are signposted from the article and suggest promising avenues of peer support for student teachers as well as experienced members of staff.