Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

Encourage a Healthy Balance

Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

Encourage a Healthy Balance

Article excerpt

Given the huge workload teachers have, leaders should take steps to protect staff wellbeing and enthusiasm

I am in the fortunate position of leading a school that is packed with enthusiastic and ambitious young teachers. However, that profile causes me to question the sustainability of their efforts and the impact that their dedication has on their health and wellbeing.

School leaders have a duty to look after their staff. So we have initiatives in place to show our appreciation of the work that all staff do. We timetable departmental meetings during the core working day; we review policies to look at their impact on workload; we provide free toast on Friday and free tea and coffee every day; we have a culture of praise and celebration; and everyone gets a card and some chocolates on their birthday.

We even have a "sing-a-long-a-briefing" each half term that sends everyone into school with a smile on their face and a song in their heart. But is this enough? I don't think so.

I have shared the following advice with my team in the hope that I can help them to stay healthy and keep up their enthusiasm for many years to come.

1 Perfectionists need not apply

Teaching is a perfect storm for perfectionists. Most are naturally conscientious and altruistic.

There is always room for improvement, so we could easily fill every waking moment with an infinite number of jobs.

That is why you have to be able to say, "This is not perfect, but it is good enough and I'm not spending any more time on it."

Decide what a reasonable working week is and stick to it.

Make sure you have "sacrosanct time" when you almost never work - for me, it is after 9pm and all day Saturday.

2 Assess your impact

Ask yourself if you can be more productive in the time you've got. Are all jobs necessary? Can some jobs be completed more efficiently? I'm not talking about short cuts that result in shoddy work, just making sure that you are not making work for yourself that will not have an impact on your students.

3 Plan lessons realistically

It is impossible for every lesson to be an extravaganza of the latest pedagogical techniques. If you are teaching strong, solid lessons every day that meet the needs of your students, then you are making an outstanding contribution to your school.

If you know that your lessons with 8B this week are going to require a lot of teacher input and some creative resourcing, try planning something less taxing on yourself with 7A. …

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