There's no getting around it, being a teacher is tough. High levels of emotional investment, a large and varied workload, the need to adapt to rapidly changing and evolving daily situations and the constant pressure to do your best for your class, colleagues and stakeholders takes its toll. The statistics support this, indicating stress, depression or anxiety is more prevalent in public service industries, such as education and health and social care, with workload cited as the predominant cause.
But, it doesn't have to be like that. The power is in your hands.
A well known strategy within education is quality first teaching, emphasising high quality, inclusive teaching for all pupils in a class. But in order to achieve this, you need quality first teachers. You need teachers who are engaged, well-rested, enthusiastic, optimistic and resilient. How many of your policies and practices encourage this?
School psychology research tells us that a healthier, happier workforce results in more engaged, committed people; fewer sick days taken; and better employee retention, but knowing where to start can be daunting. Here's my advice: start with the teachers and the rest will follow.
That's where Keystone Coaching can help. With over 15 years' experience teaching, leading and mentoring in an outstanding primary school/ teaching school, I have a deep understanding of the unique pressures and demands of working in education and the steps you can take that will make a real difference to your team and pupils.
I provide the following services designed to improve employee mental health and wellbeing, create innovate and inspiring leaders, educate pupils on effective mental health and wellbeing strategies and provide individual, group or team coaching to further embed these programs.
Positive School Leadership
1. Positive Leaders
Our research-based sessions are designed to support leaders and managers to improve their self-awareness, understand the need for relational transparency and supportiveness, explore ethical behaviour and trustworthiness, develop balanced processing and communication, and to promote creativity and innovation to empower their teams.
2. Positive Policies
I can also help you to review your current whole school Mental Health and Wellbeing Policy and identify areas for development for your 3 year School Development Plan, and implement immediate actions for the short-term School Improvement Plan.
3. Positive Practices (AKA Burnout Prevention)
In addition, I can support you and your SLT to conduct a review of your school practices and processes to investigate and address areas where the job-demands are unnecessarily causing additional stress on your team, and identify and promote positive resources that can act as a buffer between your team and the demands of their roles.
To support the mental health, wellbeing and professional development of your teachers, I offer targeted training grounded in educational positive psychology. Sessions are tailored to the needs of your school and include, but are not limited to, following areas:
the benefits of proactively looking after their mental health and wellbeing.
burnout, how to protect yourself and the 5 R's of recovery.
identifying positive resources that can build resilience and help teachers cope with the demands of the job.
challenging automatic negative self-talk.
supporting teachers to reconnect with their love of teaching.
exploring positive ways teachers can manage their workload.
relationships and creating a psychologically safe workplace.
personal and team strengths and how to use them in new and creative ways.
the link between positive relationships and pupils and teacher wellbeing and performance.
This is a stressful time for pupils as well as teachers. A hugely disruptive school year, the psychological stresses caused by lockdown and limited access to their most important stress reliever, their friends, has undoubtedly impacted your pupil's mental health and wellbeing.
Add to that the negative messages about this 'lost generation' from the media and you can see why engagement and effort is low, with only a quarter of primary school pupils doing the recommended 5 hours of learning a day according to the Sutton Trust.
Positive School Psychology research tells us that prioritising pupil mental health and wellbeing and relationships can have significant impact on engagement and school enjoyment. My Master's thesis, which investigated the elements of school pupils felt contributed to their wellbeing further supported this, confirming positive relationships with teachers and peers was a significant contributory factor to positive wellbeing.
To support your pupils, I offer targeted training grounded in educational positive psychology. Sessions are tailored to the needs of your school and include, but are not limited to, the following areas:
mental health awareness.
the elements of child wellbeing.
challenging automatic negative self-talk.
celebrating individuality & authenticity.
building a positive (growth) mindset program.
knowing your strengths and values.
relationships and how to be a good friend.
peer support champion program.
We deliver 1:1, group and team coaching sessions, for adults and pupils, to embed training, improve psychological wellbeing, develop individual strengths and skills, foster positive relationships and improve engagement and performance.
If you're looking for a coach, look no further than Tamara. I have never cried, laughed and felt more clear on my goals than when working with her. Her coaching process is such an enlightening experience that it feels like one continuous "Ah ha!" moment that you never want to stop.
Tamara makes you feel comfortable from the beginning, which allows you to go deep into what you want and where you want to go.
I cannot recommend her enough, and even as I write this I am excited for you to experience coaching by Tamara.
Katrina Gingell, Teacher and Department Leader
WHY WE NEED A POSITIVE EDUCATION STRATEGY
It's no secret that the mental health and wellbeing of children and educators all around the world is suffering. Mental health issues are on the rise and research now confirms 1 in 4 adults suffer from mental ill-health every year. Sadly, children are suffering from poor mental health at younger ages and at least one in eight children aged 5 to 19 now has a diagnosable mental health condition.
This manifests itself in emotional disorders such as anxiety, low self-esteem/self-belief, depression, obsessive compulsive disorder, and low resilience to challenge or failure, increased stress, control through perfectionism, anger, and even self-harm. Some of these you have probably seen in your own schools and they are not limited to teenagers. These disorders are known to have affected children as young as 5 years old.
The challenges brought by Coronavirus mean more than ever, schools need to prioritise the mental health and wellbeing of staff, pupils and the wider school community. However, it's important to remember our children are so much stronger and more resilient that they get credit for. For many, the last 12 months of Covid represents a significant proportion of their lives, and with such a rapid adjustment to be made, it's no wonder they struggled.
They shouldn’t be pathologised just for displaying normal reactions to abnormal events. It’s crucial to remain hopeful for our young people and to help them to hope too. To put it simply, if kids keep being told that they are the, “Lost Covid generation”, poor, helpless victims in a “tidal wave” of mental illness, with a mountain to climb to catch up, at some point they are going to believe it.
Having worked as a teacher and leader for the past 15 years, I am passionate about education and believe that Positive Education is the answer that schools are looking for.
Positive Education is an increasingly popular whole-school model that combines traditional educational principles with research-based psychological approaches to promote positive mental health among students and teachers, increase happiness, wellbeing and engagement and reduce the incidence of depression. As a qualified positive psychologist and teacher, I can support you to blend effective positive psychology strategies with your school values to create positive change in your school.
Positive change starts at the top. We need positive school leadership that prioritise the mental health and wellbeing of their teachers. Who actively take steps to prevent teacher burnout and who recognise that high-performing, passionate teachers create engaged, motivated and enthusiastic pupils.
An educational revolution is coming and it is needed now more than ever. We need to stand up and say no to the ridiculous proposals being splashed around by Gavin Williamson. Children don't need summer school or an extended school day; they need to play, be cared for and to re-build their relationships. The structure, routine and clear expectations of school will be a great start, but ultimately, at every age, young people need the time and space to re-connect and play, be it through sports, societies, playdates or parties. There is a growing bank of evidence that play improves children's social, emotional, physical and creative skills, so why not make it a focus? Instead of a summer of frantic testing and cramming, let's all have a summer of fun. Doesn't that sound like a school environment children and teachers will thrive in?
Is it time to say goodbye to Victoriana?
The time has come to say goodbye to antiquated Victorian educational principles and curriculums that have no value in the real world. Teachers and school leaders have known this for some time, but feel powerless in the face of constant scrutiny by Ofsted, the press and the 'league tables'.
Ironically, lockdown home-schooling has given parents, and the general public, an insight into the unnecessary and quite frankly ludicrous objectives our children are being prescribed by the Government and many are starting to question just what the heck their children are being taught. The author of one hilarious article, questioned why her daughter of 6 was being taught to recognise, "...grammatical features such as prepositions, conjunctions and subordinate clauses; eight- and nine-year-olds, noun phrases expanded by the addition of modifying adjectives, preposition phrases, fronted adverbials and determiners; nine- and 10-year-olds, modal verbs and relative pronoun cohesion." She went on to state, "I don’t even know what some of these terms mean, and I’ve got a PhD in English." Case in point.
As Guardian columnist Peter Hyman states, "Employers are [...] increasingly doing their own strengths-based assessments and are not predominantly looking for academic qualifications. Exam grades are no longer seen as a proxy for what is needed not just in the workplace but in life. It’s agility, initiative, curiosity, problem solving, collaboration, emotional intelligence that matter most."
Positive Education is the answer to this. A character strengths and values focused curriculum that supports wellbeing and encourages communication, creativity and collaboration is surely the key to the future of education in Britain and education globally. The scientific evidence is there, we just need to act on it.
We offer a range of workshops and services designed to help you create a flourishing school that reaps the benefits of prioritising wellbeing. We also provide Mental Health and Wellbeing training for adults, young people and even parents. Contact us to find out more.