Our Primary recruitment consultant and former KS1 Primary Teacher, Annie Davis, explains the necessary actions to be implemented to ensure school staff wellbeing remains a priority.
Looking back on my time in the classroom, it's clear to see that I actually prioritised my wellbeing, happiness and mental health as a teacher. Again being a teacher, I learnt most of these wellbeing ideas from my own personal experience which I am very excited to share!
1. Limit the time spent on one activity.
During my tenure as a Primary teacher, I knew of colleagues who would spend hours upon hours trying to complete the myriad of tasks we teachers face. I myself would be found in the early hours of the morning completing the usual mix of marking, planning and data inputting that is required of every teacher. I wanted to give my students my all so they would have the best lessons and the best feedback possible.
Looking back, I would sometimes spend too much time on one lesson, so I became short sighted to the fact I had a weeks-worth of lessons to plan!
After realising this was probably not the best tactic, I decided to limit the time on each task in order to complete more lesson plans to a good quality rather than just having one amazing lesson plan and the rest all average. It's not easy by any standard and there times when a little extra planning is required but all in all my priorities were in place and because I wasn't so drained and stressed, the students got the very best out of me!
2. Not every day is going to be a good one.
We all have bad days; sometimes a lesson does not go entirely to plan or you can be dealing with poor concentration or bad behaviour. There was this one lesson when a student with EBSD, who had been fantastically behaved prior to this, decided to walk out of my classroom in full view of the executive head who was observing! This one incident resulted in additional worries and doubts about my capabilities as a Primary Teacher even though this incident was a complete one off.
Rather than worry about this one shortcoming, my actions as a teacher were sensationally put into perspective by the child's parent who, at the end of the year, wrote me a beautiful letter saying how I had developed such a fantastic relationship with him, how my support was thoroughly appreciated and that I had made such a positive difference to her son as a teacher.
When you are teacher having one of those bad days, take a moment to think, have you made a difference as a teacher? Have you always tried to do everything you can by your students? If the answer to both these questions is yes, then you're doing amazingly well! Both good and bad days come in waves so it won't be long until your back to feeling on top again.
3. You can't complete everything.
Week in week out, we have a mountain of work that needs completing from data entry, student reports and the dreaded Primary SATS. This workload is enough to stretch anyone. At times I would often isolate myself in the hopes of having the necessary space in order to complete everything on my to-do list.
I've learnt that as a teacher you are never going to finish everything and the only way I did not develop an unhealthy mind-set is to think about what I have achieved in rather than what's been left on the back burner. I was also advised, as a trainee teacher, to make something known as a "ta-daa" list when, upon completing a task, I would find a way to reward myself by saying "ta-daa!"
4. Make Time For You!
I'm pretty sure you have all heard this piece of advice more than once. But seriously, it is advice that is so worth sharing and undertaking.
After a long and draining day, I would often find myself taking solace in my second passion, music. Once a week on a Thursday I would leave school at a reasonable time and head to Reading to participate in a local steel pan group rehearsal. I absolutely love playing music since it helps me to forget all of my pent up stresses and worries and just enjoy the moment.
Also, I was lucky enough to take up yoga which was provided by my former school. Yoga was so calming and exercising is a well-known way to relieve stress.
Make the time to indulge yourself in a hobby whether that be sport, music, dancing or just simply relaxing by reading a book or watching some tele. It gives you that all important mental break that enables you to feel refreshed and ready to take on any additional work you have to do.
I urge all of you to try and implement these wellbeing ideas ready for when you return to the classroom in September. Even if they seem difficult to follow when you are really busy, I can guarantee that it will make all the difference!
If you are looking for additional tips on improving your wellbeing as a teacher, please head to the following sites.
- Teacher Toolkits 5 Point Wellbeing Plan
- Education Support Partnership
- Head Teacher Update
- Why Is Wellbeing For Teachers Important