“We’re educators. We’re born to make a difference.” Rita Pierson
In addition to the recommendations from experts, here are some practical things you could do, to support your (and your students) well-being.
- Talk with a trusted colleague or your line manager
- Start each day with an inspirational or funny quote on the board.
- Have ‘brain breaks‘ throughout the day with your class, for example: dances or yoga on http://www.gonoodle.com; Simon Says; Silent Ball.
- Start each lesson with a breathing exercise that you do with your students, eg. ‘five finger breathing’ or ‘take 5 breathing’
- After lunch, have ‘relaxation time’. This is a silent time for transitioning from lunch time to learning time. Put on relaxing music from YouTube. During this 10-15 minutes, students (and the teacher):
- write 3 things they are grateful for today in their gratitude journal
- write a note to put in a peer’s bucket (the teacher also has a bucket). Students have a list of everyone in their class and need to put at least one note in each students’ bucket by the end of the term. The notes need to be specific and kind, acknowledging their peers’ success or showing gratitude.
- Students can then read or draw.
- Smiling Mind meditations at a time that suits you, such as after morning break twice a week. I recommend putting it in your timetable.
- Put a small picture near the entrance/exit door in your classroom. This should be a picture you find calming, eg. the ocean. Every time you pass it, take a deep breath and/or practise being ‘aware’ as described in the below teacher mindfulness section.
- Make a list of 5 things you are going to do to support your well-being.
Take 5 Breathing
Ideas for developing pedagogical skills and knowledge, so you are able to manage the demands of teaching.
- Find a mentor at your school
- Observe teachers at your school with outstanding pedagogical practice.
- Organise for teachers/leadership to observe your teaching and get feedback
- Work collaboratively with colleagues
- Participate in professional development courses
What is mindfulness? Jon Kabat-Zinn defined mindfulness as “the awareness that emerges through paying attention on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally to the unfolding of experience moment by moment.” https://www.mindfulschools.org/foundational-concepts/what-is-mindfulness/
Guided Meditations: https://www.smilingmind.com.au/
Practice being ‘aware’. Will you react or respond?
- Notice our body response / scan the body
- Notice our thoughts: Are they helpful?
- Attention to breath
Reference: Jan Carey, Director & Facilitator, The Mindful Classroom
Impact of mindfulness:
Mindfulness teacher courses in South Australia: http://www.themindfulclassroom.com.au/
Smiling Mind Meditation Example
8-minute Tai Chi for Beginners
Tips for teacher wellbeing
- Reconnect to your purpose
- Adopt a growth mindset in your teaching
- Focus on kindness and gratitude
- Create clear boundaries between home and school
- Set up effective debriefing and mentoring structures
- Establish good sleeping habits
- Build up your emotional resilience
- Keep focused on your goals
- Reward yourself
- Build new connections and relationships
How to implement the above tips: https://schools.au.reachout.com/articles/tips-for-teacher-wellbeing
Advice for reducing stress and helping colleagues under pressure:
- Practise mindfulness
- Identify what’s making you stressed: Write a list detailing all the things that are causing you stress right now. Divide your list into two columns: things you can control and things you can’t. Now focus on finding solutions for the things you can control.
- Don’t get bogged down by the small stuff: don’t forget the joy of teaching. Try to take one day at a time. Remember that many things will happen in the classroom that are out of your control and don’t be afraid to ask for help.
- Talk about stress with colleagues:
- Begin your day calmly: eg. Sit for two minutes before your pupils arrive in the morning and play some relaxation music. Take full deep breaths.
- Set realistic targets
- Prioritise: Make a list of the things that are important to you and decide when you are going to give them some time.
- Say no: Tell people firmly and politely that you won’t have time or be able to do something at work.
- Take a step back: Remember, you may enjoy it, but school is work. If you keep on putting that extra effort in, you will start to resent it, and so will the people around you.
Advice from Glasgow’s (2016) book Teach, love, life: From stress to success.
1. sleep – get at least 8 hours a night
2. exercise – and eat regular meals. 60 minutes of exercise (i.e.
walking) three times a week is enough to release stress
3. share – lesson plans, marking, and reporting with other teachers.
And, delegate at least one household chore to another family
4. make time for relaxation, hobbies, and meditation (p. 31).