Adventures in Wellbeing

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Wellbeing is a word that is everywhere in January following the implied excesses of Christmas but as a teacher, wellbeing matters everyday of every week of every month of each term of the academic year. 

As a middle leader it is my responsibility to ensure my team have all they need to be the amazing teachers I know them to be. I see it as my job to take good care of them so that they, in turn, can support the children that enter their classrooms as excited tutees or as eager students. For me, wellbeing goes hand in hand with knowing your staff and your students because if you know them and notice them, in your departments, in classrooms, in corridors, canteens and playgrounds and if you can find time amidst full days of lessons and learning schedules, of meetings and duties as well as the daily email onslaught you can pick up on important wellbeing issues and provide the support, care and attention required to keep staff and students happy or as happy as you can.

Wellbeing is a serious business and is indeed everyone’s responsibility. If we take care of each other, we build strong and happy schools. Then together we can sail the ship onwards together, and it will be a happy ship, with smiles and fun, with positivity and authentic care. If we work together, as a team, we keep the climate happy, focused and purposeful and moving ever forwards. We can then be the solid support, the foundation that our more challenging students need to stabilise them daily from the turbulence of hectic home lives and fraught friendships that await them at the school gates every evening. The happy stability helps them access and enjoy a positive, happy day as learners, as children or young adults and attends to their range of needs. 

Happy teachers and support staff in school teams will smile more and engage more if we are one team keeping an eye out for one another’s wellbeing. It won’t be a burden it’s just a thing that is done. As times in schools are ever more challenging here are five top tips for teachers and support staff to keep wellbeing at the top of the agenda.

1. Smile
Experiment with smiling more, smile at strangers you meet in school reception, at the colleagues you just don’t have time to talk to on the way to fulfil hectic schedules, smile at every student you pass and notice the difference when you do! No crocodile smiles please, smile like you mean it. 

Smiling can change mood as well as mindset not only of the smile-giver but also the smile-recipient. It’s a positive boost and an injection of joy all just by using muscles in your face more! Just think – you might have been the first person to have smiled at the that person all day and what a difference you will have made. So get a smile plastered on your face! Happy times lie ahead with smiles. If you need anymore encouragement to smile, it can also reduce blood pressure and reduce stress and anxiety levels which can’t be a bad thing! 

 Image thanks to http://www.pinterest.com 

2. Focus on the positive 
A busy day can be a ‘bonkers day’ in schools these days and if you read the news well there is little to be optimistic about so we have to seek out the positive for ourselves. If we are well, we can promote wellness and positivity but sometimes with ‘this and that’ coupled with inevitable ‘shenanigans’ of a school day it comes in short supply thus be hard to find. To combat this, I created magical moments  jars for my team and several other teachers , thanks to a brilliant idea from @musicmind to help us remember the good, brilliant and amazing things that happen daily that we struggle to remember. If you don’t have an empty jar or tin to hand it’s ok, you could just take five minutes to reflect upon your day, with a cuppa to hand of course, to think back and find one good thing per lesson or from your day. It might be as simple as a student opening a door for you, students not moaning about their new seating plan, some brilliant work from a class, praise or a thank you from a colleague or a returned smile. 

Good things happen everyday and we just need to remember these so note them down in your planner or on your phone (in the notes section) so you can look back at half term or at the end of each week and see all the good things that have happened which I’m sure will help us all start the forthcoming weekend holiday more easily and much more positively. Image thanks to http://www.likesuccess.com 

3. Get out of your classroom 

We get in early, we work hard and we don’t get time for a break.. apparently that’s teaching these days but it doesn’t have to be. I regularly walk up to the top end of school from my classroom during a break or lunchtime especially on a full teaching day so I get to visit a different space. I pop to reprographics or the main office, perhaps to the speak to a member of the site team or chief librarian so I speak to another adult and have a quick chat. After which I feel refreshed and ready to continue on with the demands of the day. Image via blog.soshace.com 

4. Get outside or look out of the window 

School weather is cool and fresh at this time of year , with a side of frost or midday sun if you’re lucky. Do find time to stop and look outside, and appreciate your view. There is a whole world outside of your school building just waiting to be admired so get out there! Do it first thing, throughout the day or perhaps just as you are heading back to the car but get outside and pause to look around, beyond the school and breathe it in. 

See the stunning silhouette of the school building against a exquisite skyline, see the frost starting to creep slowly across the path, and if you’re lucky you might see the school cat or fox depending on the time of day and noise levels of course. And whilst looking out of the window, away from the pc screen, or whilst outside take a photo with your mind, and breathe. Images taken by Crista Hazell

5. Do something for someone else

Teacherfolk are notoriously busy, but find the time to do something for someone else. It might be to make a cuppa for a colleague, sneak a chocolate bar in to their pigeon hole, to ask if anything is required from the staff room or reprographics, or if you can help someone with a specific task. It could even taking the time to say a belated ‘thank you’ to a colleague. It doesn’t have to be a huge act of kindness because the simplest of acts such as calling in on someone in their classroom to check they are ok face to face, can mean the world to the recipient because it means you have noticed, noticed them and that you care. Image thanks to http://www.myloveforwords.com 

None of these top tips are rocket science but a timely reminder can be a good thing. Image thanks to empresaytalento.blogspot.com 

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New Year Adventures in my Classroom

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After a fortnight of recharging, sleeping in and taking my dog for long walks, the early morning wake up call on Tuesday morning was a bit of a shock to say the least. I’d had the unsettled sleep with the usual teacher worries and the five period day that loomed as well as the ticking of the night time clock, was causing me a little concern. Like every teacher after the holidays I wanted to go back to school refreshed and smiley but it didn’t look like it was going to happen as half past midnight ticked by.

When the alarm’s startled buzz rang in to the early morning air I couldn’t quite see the five period solid teaching day ahead of me through the frozen bleariness, but soon enough suited, heels on and defrosting the car with the gentle buzz of Radio 2 providing some welcome warmth on the journey to school I was slowly beginning to wake up. 

Pausing over some green tea and porridge for breakfast (my New Year’s Resolution to have breakfast & drink less coffee ) in my classroom whilst awaiting the computer in my chilly classroom to power up and start its whirring allowing me to kick off the day. After the usual updates I was granted access to the joys of SIMS and email. 

It’s fair to say that I’ve fallen immediately back in love with teaching, and my classes. I didn’t fall out of love with it I should add, but the five classes I taught yesterday and four I had today were utterly fantastic. My delightful year 7 tutor group were the first to come skipping to my classroom early to share their adventures and fun from the Christmas break; their gifts, their favourite times and their shenanigans in the frost. From caravan sleep overs, bike rides to chocolate eating contests and some very lazy mornings we have been listening intently and reliving each other’s fun times in my classroom. Its such a treat that they are willingly sharing with one another. There are more stories to share, more smiles and laughter to be had over the coming days and I’m truly grateful that the students know how lucky they are to have received the gifts, the time and the love from their families especially when there are so many stories across the world and even in our doorsteps where children’s experiences are tragically very different.  

As if the day couldn’t get any better the five classes I taught were full of more laughter, smiles, joy and excitement as the students came bubbbling in grinning at my welcome back to 2017. I greeted them with some ‘fun with grammar’ namely the Future Tense creating New Years Resolutions recycling language learned as well some reading and translation too. Students worked hard individually and in pairs focusing on the range of challenges set, digging deep and delighting myself as well as their peers with their originality and hopes and dreams for 2017 and all in French too! What a treat! 

I’ve been really impressed with the energy, positivity, focus and creativity of the students in the nine lessons and five year groups I’ve taught so far throughout the last two days, long may it continue! It can be challenging coming back after such an exciting break, getting routines right and remembering the basics, making those connections with students and building on strengthening relationships as well as getting back down to the business of learning but they have been ace, really brilliant and a real pleasure to teach. And just in case I needed to fall back in love with my job again, they just helped me do it. Teaching truly is the best job in the world. Happy times indeed. Image via memegenerator.net