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A Question of Sustainability: A Survey of Waldorf Teacher' Self-Care Practices

Author: 
Lauren Struckmeyer

Abstract:

In 2010, an informal study was conducted at one Waldorf School, surveying eleven teachers on their perceptions of how Waldorf education had affected their lives. The findings showed that physical health had decreased in more than half of the particpants since they began teaching.
Through a mixed method survey, the researcher sought to confirm or negate the aforementioned study with a larger sample population of 48 certified Waldorf teachers, preschool through grade 12. The survey inquired how teaching had affected their self-care habits of exercise, sleep, nutrition and inner development. They were also asked if and how teaching had affected their home life and parenting, what they would like to change about their current self-care habits, what support they would need from family, colleagues, administration and teacher training to change their self-care, as well as perceived sustainability of their teaching career with current self-care practices.
Findings showed that all four components of self-care had changed since beginning teaching, both positively and negatively, and to varying degrees. Responses showed a polarity of participants either feeling very supported by all support groups, or needing more practical, organizational, and emotional support.. Teachers’ responses showed they perceive lack of time, mostly from workload and hours of teaching, as well as money, to be the major factors that affect their self-care practices. Participants expressed that these factors may also affect the sustainability of their careers, though a large percentage of respondents reported they feel they will sustain a career as a Waldorf teacher.
Further directions for research pertaining to this topic suggested by the researcher include widening the sample population to a more realistic representation of teachers and from diverse regions of the United States; exploration of job satisfaction and stress and 4 action based research on mentoring initiatives; action based research at a Waldorf school where looping grades has been established.