“How are you? Are you well?”
For most teachers and perhaps most adults, the answer is more often than not “Fine, thank you.” With the current teacher recruitment and retention ‘crisis’, it seems that this isn’t always true.
Although teachers are constantly surrounded by people, teaching can be a lonely and stressful profession, especially if you find it difficult to talk about your worries and concerns. With such pressure to look out for and ‘be there’ for the children, we can struggle to remember to look after ourselves, sometimes to the point that we are no longer ‘ok’. If this is you, remember this: it’s ok not to be ‘ok’.
Teachers are constantly reminded to focus on Next Steps. If you are feeling less than ‘ok’, it’s time to consider your next steps.
Let’s think 5-a-day. What does the term ‘5-a-day’ bring to mind?
- The minimum portions of fruit that you should aim to consume?
- The number of children who have lost their jumper or “forgotten” their homework?
- The reminders you give for using full stops?
What about the number of things that you make time to do for yourself?
@MartynReah's #teacher5aday trend kicked off in 2014, building on research such as the New Economics Foundation (NEF) Centre for Wellbeing ‘5 Steps to Wellbeing’. #teacher5aday is aimed at both school staff and pupil well-being but is also relevant to any career.
The main message: take time to look after yourself and your well-being by connecting, exercising, noticing, learning and giving. After all, you can only do your best if you are feeling at your best.
Here are some ideas of things you can do for the Teacher 5-a-Day:
Connect: Call your best friend, your parents or your grandmother who lives alone. Tell colleagues early on if you are feeling pressured, and ask for their help and advice. Talk to someone close to you about your day (moans, celebrations and all) – offload and share, so you don’t have to keep it to yourself.
Exercise: Go for a walk at lunch time. Run and do star jumps with the kids at break time. Join a fitness class the evening before ‘PPA day’ and leave work until tomorrow. Download a yoga or meditation app to unwind before bedtime.
Notice: Look after your colleagues and support them. Write down your feelings and look for patterns so that you can try to address them. Take photos of things that make you smile and keep them in a scrapbook for when you are feeling low.
Learn: Use your connections to learn a new skill – ask your friend who plays the guitar to give you a lesson. Share resources and best practice with colleagues. Discuss your CPD aspirations with leadership teams. Try the ‘every day is a lesson’ mindset and find something new (however small) in each day.
Give: Smile at the tired parent of four, who has forgotten to sign the permission slip. Thank the office administrator for forwarding that important email. Make a cup of tea for the cleaner who works equally as hard as you. If you’re feeling particularly ambitious, send a gift to a fellow teacher using #teacher5adaybuddyboxes. Perhaps most importantly, give yourself some credit; you’re doing brilliantly and you are making a difference, every day.
For the past three years, this mindset has inspired teachers to pledge their own well-being promises to themselves. Stuck for your own ideas of what to pledge or where to begin? There is an entire community of like-minded teaching staff on Twitter, using the trends #teacher5aday and the 5 principles of well-being:
#connect #exercise #notice #learn #give
There is also a YouTube community, where you can learn from and contribute to a selection of well-being videos.
How can we help?
If you would like to continue learning, our CPD Library is full of resources to help take away some of the challenges you face inside and outside the classroom. Visit the CPD catalogue or contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Coming soon for staff and pupils: Our Relaxation resource takes you through a series of simple breathing and relaxation exercises to give you some time out and help you get back on track.