Wellness has taken centrestage across the country and a mega strike by primary and secondary teachers has brought to light the wellbeing of teachers. Workload, salaries and classroom sizes have been adding mounting pressures on high school teachers, but others are finding their recharge button together.
Half-price Fitbits, smoothie making competitions, puzzle corners and a time-out zone are how one Rotorua school is caring for teachers amid the education crisis.
For the staff and by the staff, Rotorua Girls' High School (RGHS) teachers have taken their wellbeing into their own hands with a wellness committee.
The committee was suggested to the staff by principal Sarah Davies at the start of the year when she began her position.
Committee chairwoman and school nurse Shirley Tickelpenny said staff morale was at an all-time low last year and the improvement this year was obvious.
"We needed to do something," she said.
The committee organised a puzzle corner in the staffroom, a time-out room with couches and books, a walking group and subsidised Fitbits.
The staff were working together to walk the distance of New Zealand with World Walking and had already clocked more than 2.3 million steps together.
But it did not stop there. Tickelpenny said the staff were now initiating fun activities, like smoothie making competitions, a stark difference to the lack of motivation or interest in doing things last year.
"There's a different hum," she said.
More students need expert mental health help
School bans pupils from having mobile phones
The school, like others in the district, provided counselling for teachers who had the choice of either the school counsellor or referral to external counselling.
Tickelpenny said there had been no referrals in Term 1 which was a "huge difference" to last year, though she did not disclose specific numbers due to the number of teachers.
Principal Sarah Davis said staff wellbeing trickled down into what was being provided to students and she had noticed "a great lift".
"We've had a lot more laughter," she said.
But these were small steps which could not compete with wider concerns such as workload, pay and resources.
"It still doesn't fix the really serious issues the teaching profession has at the moment."
John Paul College teachers had also been shown how to unwind and could book a half-hour session with a masseuse who came to school every Friday, morning tea shouts and an "extra mile" award with a bottle of wine prize.
Principal Patrick Walsh said the lack of pay increase had diminished morale and teachers gave feedback of feeling tired and burnt out and the school Board of Trustees stepped in.
An empty staffroom signalled teachers working through their breaks and Walsh said free fruit and soup on Mondays and morning teas twice a term were attempts to help staff to reset and be with colleagues.
Reporoa College principal Brendan Carroll said small gestures were crucial to show teachers they were valued, appreciated and recognised.
"Their wellbeing affects their ability to function," he said.
The school had a teacher appreciation draw every Friday with a free coffee and a social club of events for staff to attend out of school hours, such as a catch-up at the pub.
Teaching Council NZ website stated a focus on teacher wellbeing helped with dealing with the demands of teaching.
"Focusing on wellbeing gives teachers the strength and optimism to challenge and change the way they work without burning out or giving up."
Ministry of Education deputy secretary Ellen MacGregor-Reid said an Education Professionals' Wellbeing Framework was being developed by the ministry and sectors, including NZEI and PPTA.
The aim was to better support teachers and principals, and raise awareness of wellbeing resources, she said.
"At the same time, the Government has a comprehensive work programme that will address many aspects of teacher workload and wellbeing.
"This includes the development of a long-term strategy for the education workforce, the joint taskforce on reducing compliance, a review of curriculum, progress and achievement, and the review of NCEA."
Leaders of the NZEI and PPTA unions met with the Ministry of Education on Thursday to discuss how to address issues raised by teachers.
PPTA spokeswoman Liz Robinson said there would be no strikes next week but could not give further detail.
Minister Chris Hipkins had earlier invited the PPTA and NZEI to talks with him and ministry officials today to discuss the "many, varied and complex" issues being raised by the teachers.
"The Government is committed to taking action to address those concerns progressively over time," he said on Tuesday.
The PPTA began their rolling strike this week, with Year 9s off on Tuesday.
The schedule for year groups
Year 9: June 4
Year 10: June 11
Year 11: June 25
Year 12: July 2
There will be no school for high school students in the Bay of Plenty on June 18.