This multi-disciplinary study is situated in longstanding debates about wellbeing among UK schoolteachers, defined as teachers’ ability ‘to develop their potential, work productively and creatively, build strong and positive relationships with others, and contribute to their community’ (Day & Qing 2009:15). Through an original approach to studying teacher wellbeing, it examines the relationship between flexible working,
boundary management, reinterpretation of workspaces, and professional identity. Flexible working can cause overwork and stress (Bird 2019), which can be mitigated through effective boundary management and foster wellbeing (Creary & Locke 2021). For teachers, flexible working also involves a reinterpretation of workspace (Johnston et al. 2021) that can challenge professional identity (Fulton 2020), understood here as the capacity to align personal and professional priorities, which in turn supports wellbeing (McCallum et al. 2017).
The recent Covid-19 pandemic with large-scale enforced homeworking has raised pertinent questions about flexible working and wellbeing among teachers (Turner 2020). Teachers had to design and implement alternative pedagogic approaches, ranging from socially distanced classrooms, hybrid teaching, to 100%
virtual instruction (DfE 2020). On returning to school after lockdown, many found drastically different environments and routines. This adaptation to flexible working had to happen very quickly, increasing workrelated stress and affecting teacher wellbeing (Ofsted 2019). Yet, there has been no systematic study to date
of how these sudden and profound changes to teachers’ working arrangements affected their wellbeing. The aim of this study, therefore, is to address in the context of flexible working the following five research
1. How UK schoolteachers manage the work-nonwork boundary;
2. How they reinterpret working / teaching space(s);
3. How they maintain a meaningful professional identity;
4. How boundary management, spatial meanings, and professional identity impact their wellbeing; and
5. What lessons can be learned for future working arrangements that support teacher wellbeing.
This visually-led study examines how flexible working during the Covid-19 pandemic has affected UK schoolteachers' wellbeing. Our original approach, focusing on boundary management, the reinterpretation of physical workspaces, and professional identity, will develop a better understanding of teachers’ experiences of
flexible working and the effects on their wellbeing. Data will be collected using participant-led photography through which primary and secondary teachers can tell their stories of experiencing flexible working. The study will develop a novel conceptual framework and identify lessons that can be learned from these experiences to support teacher wellbeing in the future