All teachers know that the demands of the job can make it tough on your wellbeing, and putting aside time to look after yourself is rarely first on the to-do list. But there are so many reasons why maintaining wellbeing can – and should – be a top priority. A healthy, happy mental state is essential in ensuring your teacher life – and the rest of your life – is the most fulfilling and successful one that it can be. Your students and your loved-ones will thank you for it too.
We asked four teachers for their tips and life-hacks for improved wellbeing.
Friday night football
Scott Stanyer, secondary school associate assistant headteacher, Luton
For me, it’s Friday night football with my colleagues. Five-a-side, every week. It’s invaluable, especially after a hard week. The deputy head teacher, two assistant head teachers, heads of departments, NQTs, trainee teachers, female, male, a 50-year-old, a 21-year-old – we’re all there. And we have the best games of football you could believe!
It breaks down those hierarchical relationships, because in that moment, the person on the other team whom I’m about to tackle is not the deputy head, he’s the opposition. It’s all about the elimination of “them and us”, when it comes to leadership. This doesn’t mean they have to play football, but they have to be approachable. It adds a real human touch to a profession that inevitably requires some element of hierarchy.
For me, personally, exercise is a really important outlet. My best ideas have come when I’ve gone for a run. I’ll come in the next day, saying we need to do this and that, and my colleagues will know I’ve been out running!
Remember your reason why
Andrea Bean, primary school deputy head, Cheshire
Always remember your ‘Reason Why’. There will always be really hard times and huge challenges, but holding onto why you came into the profession in the first place will connect you to the positives and drive you through the hurdles.
I always ensure that those cards, gifts, messages from children, parents or colleagues are kept safe to pick out when I need a pick-me-up or a smile. I keep a note on my desk and one at the front of my diary. That way, I have a constant reminder that what I’m doing makes a difference and that encourages me to keep going.
Have some fun
Russ Atkinson, secondary school principal, Northumberland
I firmly believe that a happy and well-rested workforce is a much more productive workforce. So make sure you’re doing things for yourself outside of work that make you happy. Find The Thing. For me, that’s cycling. I make sure I find time to cycle, because if I don’t, then I’m not going to be as happy as I could be.
One of the things we try to work on, as a staff, is creating a happy school and having a bit of fun. The kids are, so why can’t you? You can have a really fun time with the students. A school should be a happy place to be!
We do monthly wellbeing activities, where members of staff can win gifts by being selected in a random draw. We also have a recommendation system, where people can nominate each other to win the wellbeing award. This month, for example, someone won an M&S ‘Dine in for £10’ voucher. This kind of thing makes us feel valued and reminds us that we are allowed to have fun and happiness in our lives!
Relationships with colleagues and students
Emma Lawrence, assistant head of sixth form, Hertfordshire
I love my Friday evening running group. Jogging through the beautiful hills near my school is a reminder that it’s a great area and a wonderful place to work. The group is a way to see colleagues from other departments and year groups, which I find really valuable. Most of my stress comes from inside my own small work bubble, so it’s good for me to remember that everyone has their own worries, completely different from mine.
I’d also recommend gravitating towards the members of staff that are most positive. I’m very lucky to have a head of department that oozes positive energy and fights my corner, which makes a huge difference. Spending time with these colleagues makes me feel happier and more valued.
Also, always try to see the students as human beings and build a relationship with them. Talk to them. The incidental chats that I have with pupils are one of the best parts of my job and massively improve my wellbeing.
How we can help
Sometimes the small things can make a huge difference to our wellbeing. We also believe that implementing the right processes in your school – and the right tools to support them – has a huge effect when it comes to improving wellbeing across the board, whatever your role. To find out more, get in touch with us now.