Wellbeing has always been at the heart of the work I focus on with schools. Thankfully, wellbeing, mental health, and its links to healthy behaviour are now being actively promoted in schools.
However, how can we promote, model and create wellbeing for children if we’re rundown and joyless ourselves? It’s simply not possible. For me, sound mental health is inextricably linked with good listening.
First of all, listen to your own self. Are you constantly running yourself or the children you teach down? Do you have people you can talk to in a constructive way? Or do you tend to gather with others and slide into mutual moaning?
Only when an individual can express their thoughts and feelings in a safe, respectful environment and have these thoughts acknowledged, can they work on their own issues. Make regular time in one-to-one catch-ups – or staff meeting circle times – to talk and to be listened to, in order to promote effective wellbeing.
Remember to make time for yourself outside of your job. It is tempting to give up hobbies and interests, especially when you are tired or there are endless tasks to be completed. However, a life outside work can help you to keep perspective and empathy for others. I believe that only when adults have made time for themselves can they find the time to help others.
Above all, we need to keep a sense of humour, as a happy school has laughter coming from the staffroom as well as the classrooms. Laughter creates resilience and helps us find the energy and joy to move forward. Regular circle time (one of my tips) creates weekly shared laughter which reminds teachers why they got into teaching in the first place.
My five top tips below are simple and quick strategies to start the whole process of meeting children’s needs. They reflect a model I devised many years ago called The Five Wells for Wellbeing. The National College of School Leadership (NCSL) promoted it and I still present it at many head teacher’s conferences. Quite simply, it focuses on replenishing our Spiritual, Physical, Intellectual, Creative and Emotional energies, and is known as the SPICE of Life model