At the start of November, our academy trust had a training day; we were invited to choose from a range of workshops ranging from challenging behaviour and prayer spaces, to science experiments and wellbeing. It was a really good event which gave us some valuable ideas we could take away and use in our own practice.
I was lucky enough to attend two wellbeing sessions. One was run by teachers from a local school and modelled how to spread kindness and happiness through both students and staff, whilst the other was run by one of our school improvement partners and was discussing if there was an unequal balance between our wellbeing and workload.
Staff wellbeing is an issue often discussed both in schools and online. ‘Wellbeing’ can sometimes seem like a buzzword rather than a way to approach teaching if not catered for properly; it isn’t just a yoga staff meeting or some biscuits in the staffroom (though the second is definitely still appreciated!). This was something discussed in the workshop about work/life balance.
It was pointed out that we nearly always say work/life balance, but why shouldn’t we be saying life/work balance instead? Teaching is a job which requires us to put a lot of ourselves in to the role. As a group of professionals, we often find the lines blurred: we take work home; we work late; we spend our own money on work. It is absolutely okay for us to put ourselves first and not feel guilty about it. So why, often, do we end up feeling this way?
This session helped us look at ourselves and what areas of life we felt we might be letting slip and needed some work using the ‘Wheel of Life‘.
We were also encouraged to make a promise to ourselves to focus on in the future in order to be in charge of our own wellbeing (see mine below!). I felt so refreshed afterwards with a new perspective!
The second session focused on tackling this through wellbeing being promoted in school by a constant atmosphere of happiness and kindness.
First, Dani and Robyn – the teachers running the session – suggested using a ‘happiness calendar’ to keep track of different days in the year when there is a special event. Now, these do often involve food (which as we all know, can sometimes be a perk!) so it might be worth coming up with some of your own ‘happiness days’. Too many of those and your wellbeing might take more of a decline as your waistline creeps up!
Second (and one I’m sure you’ve all seen over Twitter and Facebook!) is the concept ‘you’ve been mugged’. Fill a mug with treats, put it on their desk and…run! It’s the perfect way to perk someone up – especially if you know they’ve had a particularly tricky week or day.
They also have a ‘Kindness Club‘ where children promote happiness and kindness to others through small acts, such as leaving motivational or inspirational messages in books for other children to find!
After this workshop, two colleagues and I decided to set up a ‘Kindness Crew’ in our school. Year 6 children applied to be involved and are focusing on doing kind acts for both staff, and children. They are also creating opportunities for other children to be kind too! So far our crew have:
- Made kindness advent calendars for each class (which looked beautiful thanks to Mrs Wathen!)
- Baked gingerbread for National Gingerbread Day (thanks Mrs Salter!)
- Hidden motivational messages inside books for children to find
The feedback we have already have from both staff and children has been fantastic!
We’re really looking forward to the next ideas our Kindness Crew come up with and seeing the impact it has over the year.