Because we’re…..happy?

Last week the staff well-being group met for the first time in what seemed like five years. Actually, I think it was five years. Time flies when you’re having fun, but it also seems to fly when we’re caught up in somewhat turbulent times and wondering, as we all have done in the last couple of years,  whether we’ve missed the signpost to Kansas somewhere along the way.

Strangely, the very act of meeting up as a group did us all more good than the list that we eventually came up with – 20 colleagues united in a quest to promote care and consideration for all those in our community. There were so many great ideas tumbling out one after the other – hardly a whinge, no moaning, perhaps a single almost wistful reference to focussing on the positives of what we do well a little more frequently – but the real point has to be that for some time now, we have felt as though some of the critical elements of everyone’s well-being – feeling motivated, feeling listened to, feeling supported – have been lacking. Perhaps not lost, but rather mislaid.

In a sense, it is a little bit crazy isn’t it? We shouldn’t have to plan to be nice to each other (paraphrased from our new leader 🙂 ) . We shouldn’t need protocols to listen to one another, wherever we are on the hierarchy. We don’t need permission to motivate each other, to support one another, to make each other feel as though someone’s got our back. We don’t need to fill in a form to make someone a cup of tea, do their duty or get them some throat sweets. So why in so many reports that I read is there that crushing feeling that no-one cares?

Perhaps what matters more is creating the ethos and culture where school well-being is a priority. A healthy, happy, motivated school includes everyone – staff, students, parents. With this in mind, I asked a few colleagues to tell me what they thought well-being means to them. Here are some responses:

Staff well being is every teacher driving to school with a smile,  despite the challenges we know the day will inevitably bring.  It is at least starting every class with a smile and a cheerful greeting for all students and colleagues. It is knowing that however awkward the days gets, we will be looked after and supported by all colleagues and most of the students. (Chris S)

Staff well being means….never having to say you’re sorry (sorry I’m being flippant in a 1970s kind of way)……… means: Feeling you’re moving forward rather than going around in circles (Rob P)

For me, ‘staff well-being’ can be derived from how motivated the staff are. If your staff are pushing themselves, are hard working, full of ideas and engaged with their jobs then they are motivated and therefore of a positive frame of mind. I believe that being motivated makes a teacher more efficient in their role and prepared to take risks in trialling new strategies (also, happy teachers smiles making the school environment pleasant for ALL!).  (Pete C)

Staff well being means recognising the importance of staff just being able to ‘be’ and spend time together. It means staff feeling that they are supported, listened to and are a collective. It also means being able to play softball. (Jenny R)

And finally (and attributed to the indomitable Ruth Urch):

First and foremost I think a happy and motivated staff promotes a happy and safe learning environment for everyone. Teachers are professionals and we should be treated as such, allow us to make decisions about what we do; support and encourage us, praise us when we do something ‘good’. Staff well being should be a whole school thing, include the support staff and anyone who contributes to school life. Promote a sense of community. Introduce events which brings everyone together other than ‘learning issues’. A few times a year, or so, let’s have something to look forward to. Something like the Wednesday twilight sessions would be good for everyone. Have a designated staff well being person or committee who is responsible to offer advice, to sound off to so that we feel looked after. Most important, probably, is that we are supported positively instead of made to feel we are failing all the time.

I think we might be on the road back to Kansas.



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