Getting the new academic year off to a positive start... and maintaining it throughout!
Robbie O Connell
We’re delighted to have Robbie contribute to theis blog piece about staff wellbeing. Robbie recently presented at our virtual CPD conference “Placing Wellbeing at the Heart of Schools“. He spoke about whole-school approaches to wellbeing, because as principal, it is crucial he takes all members of the school community into consideration. His talk was inspiring and we all wanted to work at his school after!
We all know that schools can be frenetic places to work, with teaching one of the top three most stressful occupations, therefore things that we can control such as our mindset, perspective and attitude are paramount in order to start the year on a positive note. As William Johnsen said “if it is to be, it’s up to me”. Let’s start as we mean to go on by taking control and ensuring we are thriving as opposed to merely surviving.
The following are some tips and ideas to assist you with the new academic year.
1. Choose your attitude each morning otherwise others will choose it for you.
Come to school with a positive attitude each and every day where possible, we are in control of and responsible for the attitude and energy we bring to our classrooms and indeed staffrooms. Also remember that thoughts and negative thoughts that may creep in are only thoughts, we on average have 60,000 thoughts a day and 80% are those thoughts are unhelpful. Ask yourself each morning am I in the right state or in a right state.
2. Before you step back into the classroom, take a positive inventory of your strengths, skills and best traits, along with the goals that you are working towards and those that you have already reached.
Write them down somewhere accessible so you can reignite your reasons to be optimistic in times of need. If stress and worry are blocking you from connecting to happy and positive thoughts, write down the negative ideas on a worry pad or reflective journal. Acknowledge your progress towards your goals with mini celebrations where you do things you enjoy.
Likewise, seek to find the best in each student; helping them to see their good qualities will boost their optimism, mindset and perseverance. Try subtle observation: in this technique you keep a list of your students’ names and each time one of them achieves something (a kind act or refraining from a bad habit, for example), you write it down. Later, when circulating around the room you can give specific praise for what you observed.
3. Practice gratitude and kindness
These dopamine boosters are two-way streets; you get a boost when you give or receive kindness and gratitude. Be alert to the small, thoughtful acts of others and express your appreciation for them. Doing things for other people is a large part of teaching, so make time to be in the company of friends and colleagues who are open in their appreciation and admiration for you, and do the same for them.
Start the term with habits that let students appreciate your kindness, have positive reward systems, connect with them and show you care.
We are often so involved in correcting students who are off-task or doing something wrong that we miss opportunities to catch them doing things right. When a child puts in extra effort, be sure to acknowledge it with a quick note to their parents or guardians. Letters from school can often be negative, so they will be grateful to receive good news. We all love a boost!
4. Prioritise – the 4 D’s of time management
1: DO IT -urgent
2: DEFER IT- not urgent
3: DELEGATE IT- should I be doing it?
4: DUMP IT- you have decided no action is required
Self management of time can be difficult – instead of “I haven’t the time” prioritise and say to yourself that the actions I’m doing now; I’m giving priority to over other actions.
5. Be mindful, slow down and have boundaries
Leave work at work, make use of the out of office feature on emails etc., make sure with regard to your family life that family members get the best of you and not the rest of you, the harsh reality is that we are all replaceable at work.
Be mindful of what is happening in the present moment and ignore what lies ahead.
Make sure to make an appointment with yourself a number of times during the week and have non negotiables for yourself, they may be a walk, a tv programme, a coffee etc.
6. The four agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz
Print off this poster and have it visible in as many places as possible, by following these four agreements you won’t go far wrong and you will have a fantastic year ahead.
7. Simply do your best
As per Maya Angelou’s famous quote which is one of my favourites;
“Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.”
Once we give our privileged positions as teachers our best, everything else will fall into place, all we can ask of anybody including ourselves is our best.
Best of luck everybody, wishing you all a fantastic year ahead, BEIR BUA & KEEP SMILING
Robbie O’ Connell
We think the podcast is an important listen for any teacher who has always wanted to be
part of a real conversation about teacher wellbeing, but especially teachers who have
struggled at any point with their own mental health, maintaining their own wellbeing, burnout,
overwhelm, imposter syndrome or a frustration with working within the modern education
Did you know that 74% of teachers do not feel confident with formative assessment teaching methodologies?
As we approach the new school year, this survey conducted by Rahoo Training in 2020, and its findings, should be at the forefront of a school leader’s mind.
Webinar 8th November 2023: How to Enhance the Teaching & Learning of Maths with Formative Assessment
“How to Enhance the Teaching & Learning of Maths with Formative Assessment” is 1 hour in duration including Q&A opportunities.
This webinar will be hosted by a Nadine Lyons, Maths Lead Practitioner at South View School Dubai.