"Why you MUST Put Your Own Wellbeing First" by Sam Collins

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Teaching is a demanding job and it attracts very conscientious people. Teachers, while definitely not saints, do have a tendency to put others’ needs before their own. It is easy to do, when you are caught up in the daily bustle of school and home life.

One major factor that directly impacts on teacher wellbeing is workload. Surveys regularly find that teachers are working in excess of 55 hours a week during term time. While some schools have begun to implement the recommendations of the government workload review groups, there are still many competing demands on teachers.

A school’s staff are its most precious and expensive asset. As a teacher, you are uniquely placed to have an impact on your students. How can you be at your sparkling best, inspiring and motivating your class, if you were up until 11pm last night, planning today’s lessons?

So how can you take control over your wellbeing?

First of all, you must accept that you have some responsibility for your own wellbeing. If you are waiting for other people to sort it out for you, you’ll have a long wait. The good news is that tiny changes can make a massive difference and are the most effective way to make a positive change.

Choose just one thing to stop and one thing to start and see what impact it has on your wellbeing.

Here are some ideas to get you started -

3 things to stop doing right now!

 To do list

  1. Stop writing your to-do lists on post-it notes and plastering them all over your laptop. This creates a perception of a workload that is untidy and out of control. Centralise your to-do list into a notebook or device. Interestingly, one of the top secrets of very productive people is that they don’t use to-do lists at all - they schedule tasks. Try it and see if you feel more in control. 
  2. Stop taking home work that will not get done. A pile of books brooding in the corner will only spoil the evening you should be enjoying with your nearest and dearest. Your marking still won’t be done and on top of that you will feel terrible. Leave them at school.
  3. Stop reacting immediately to messages and emails. If you are checking your devices all the time, the line between work and home becomes blurred. Just because someone sends you an email at 10.25 pm doesn’t mean you need to answer it at 10.27.

3 things to start doing right now!

Passion flower

  1. Start checking your emails when you have time to respond to them, not when that thing in your pocket starts bleeping. Turn the notifications off.
  2. Start getting outside for at least 15 minutes a day. Even if you can only walk around the block, notice what is around you.
  3. Start reading the #teacher5aday hashtag on Twitter. Search this hashtag to find positive teachers taking control of their own wellbeing and sharing their experiences. 

Sam Collins teaches in Devon and is the founder of schoolwell.co.uk. Follow her on twitter @samschoolstuff