Over the last few days there has been a lot of talk about wellbeing and nurture.
Wellbeing and nurture are paramount to the success of the education system I work within. If you are not valued or confortable in your work place then your productivity and motivation diminishes. This state of mind is not good for anyone and so Wellbeing and nurture needs to be a factor within all school.
- Well-being can be defined as the state of being comfortable, healthy, or happy.
- Nurture can be defined as caring for or protecting (someone or something) while they are growing.
So well-being is the feeling of being comfortable, healthy and happy. If we were to look at this from an academic point of view ; Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, then these areas fall quiet low down in his pyramid. This to me suggests that they should be there by default. Personally I believe your work place should cover these basic needs. I know the reasons for many of us working is to provide and make sure we are able to meet these needs, but the place we work within should also contribute to meeting these needs.
For me everyone has the right to be healthy and happy. Everyone have the right to be valued, encouraged and listened to. Everyone is equal and valued. No one has the right to take these away from us. No one has the right to undermine, or diminish these rights. At work we should be happy and healthy. We should be allowed to be happy and maintain our health. By this I mean we should know that we are going to be listen too and that if we make a mistake then we are going to be coached and encouraged. I know for many of us this is not always the case!
On the other hand, I do not mean that we shouldn’t be challenged or guided. We should be challenged and there needs to be a basic standard that needs to be met. Teachers have a job to do. We need to make sure we are fit enough to fulfil these duties. We need to make sure we provide the best we can for the students/children we teach. For this very reason we need to be allowed to be happy and healthy as a happy and healthy teacher often produces more then a tressed and overworked one.
At work we should be line managed effectively. You can guide and persuade a person to do as you would like them to without making them feel worthless. You can encourage and mentor someone to see your passion/point of view without shouting or yelling at him or her. Furthermore to this, You have the right to feel values and the right to express yourself. In a work environment you should be able to talk to your manager about how you are feeling, you should know that you will be listen to and that you will be given a fair chance/time.
So why is it so hard?
Lots of people I know have moved schools, given up teaching, gone part time or just had a break down because of the way the system has treated them. On paper this should be simple. Look out for each other, ask questions about each other’s mental and physical wellbeing, be honest about how you are feeling and take control of your work life balance. In lots of other profession this is possible. Then why is it that as we go in 2016 there are still hundreds, if not thousands of teachers who work 80+ hours a week and never seem to receive a thank you, let alone a “how are you?”. so again I ask…
Why so hard?
Yesterday I started to think about this in a little more detail? Is it us? Do we give the managers/SLT of our schools too much power? Are we afraid to express out opinions? Does the Head teacher have this hold over us?
Is it the system? Does the system now lend itself to power trips and ego boosts? Does the system expect too much of employees and teachers?
To be honest, I do not know the answer here. A lot of this depends on the experience you have had, where you are within the system and what type of school culture you have. Some people will say that it’s the system as they are happy within their school although they find the hours too long. Some will say it’s the school as they seem to perceive that the grass is greener on the other side. This is based on the fact they see other fellow professionals that are enjoying their teaching years and that seem to be excelling at what they are doing. I feel if we could come up with a satisfactory answer to this conundrum, then we would all be making lots of money !
Then I moved on to thinking about Nurture.
As an NQT I can remember hearing this term being used a lot. The other teachers would say that you needed to nurture yourself, take care of yourself and make time to be “human”. They would say that this first year (the NQT Year) was the hardest and once you have gotten through it, you would be find. I remember listen and think; surely this cannot be true. surely the job off a deputy Head its harder then that of an NQT. Surely the pressures of headship cannot be compared to those of an NQT.
This got me thinking, Should the well being and nurture continue throughout your career? Should the advice, guidance, support, development, mentoring and encouraging continue?
Yes, in short!
To me, the same applies to 2nd year, 3rd year and so on. Just because you no longer carry the title/tag of being Newly qualified does not mean that you no longer in of nurturing yourself. I fact for me I would say that as you get more senior and get more roles within the school, the nurturing process of yourself needs to increase. As you do progress there are less people above you to make sure you are looking after yourself. When you get to the top (Headship) I suppose everyone thinks you are resilient and determined enough and that you will never falter. This is not the case, I believe that all staff need to be supported, encourage and looked out for.
So for me?
Personally I like to think of it as the following. I am currently 29 years of age. I started my teaching career as a 23 year old. So I have been at it for 6 years, no long I know, but in these years I feel I have tried to accomplish quiet a bit. I have mentored 3 SCITT students and have taken on an NQT and successfully mentored her through the year. I have held subject leadership positions for various subjects. During the first 4 years of my career I jumped at every opportunity! Why? I am still young. I have another 30+ years to go. If I burn out now what good is this? All of the above are sensible questions but these did not really figure to me but all this changed.
2 years ago I moved in with my girlfriend (fiancée now) and it made me think. Then in August 2015 I got engaged. These events made me re-examine what I wanted. It made me re-evaluate what i wanted to achieve. I am indeed 29 years old, I have indeed many years of work in front of me. I believe that the M6 wage is sufficient for me. Need I go on!!
I realized that I have got a lifetime in front of me and in fact there is not rush to be promoted to Maths leader, Literacy leader, Curriculum leader, to be made into a phase leader, to apply for that Assistant Head’s post or to even consider Headship. I ought to be happy with what I have. This made me think, and so as a result…
I moved schools….
Life is for living, enjoying, laughing, singing and dancing and I hope that I will continue to do this for a very long time to come.
Wishing you all a very happy and prosperous 2016