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Adventures in Wellbeing & other stories

April 19, 2020

I'm not going to start by mentioning our unprecedented times or that we're navigating a new norm, but needless to say, pastoral care is taking on a whole new frontier. Schools are needing to adapt at speed, all the while maintaining the excellent standards of pastoral care we all strive for as educators. Many of you will be having conversations with your pupils online or over the phone, offering tutorials, checking on the vulnerable and supporting those in need during lockdown. But we don't need to be robotic in our digital pastoral care. Here are some do's and don'ts for showing authentic empathy in our online conversations. 

Let's get the don'ts out of the way. 

Don't rush to fix things. Allow space to feel and talk before even considering a solution. 

Don't make it about you. 'I know exactly how you feel' shuts down their own feelings and turns the empathy in the wrong direction. 

Don't rely on cliches. Everything might happen for a reason but this can seem smug and...

October 6, 2019

I'm quite careful to curate my feeds on social media. I like to keep them positive places as I spend quite a lot of time there. I don't follow high profile idiots of the world as an act of mild protest. Every now and again I'll go through and unfollow any accounts I'm not resonating with. Any who I find annoying, negative, tiresome or any accounts which just make me feel a bit weird. You can't put your finger on it, but some accounts just vibrate on a different wavelength and although there's nothing tangibly 'wrong' with them, if they don't 'spark joy' they get an unfollow. It's ok to mute, block and unfollow for no good reason at all. Our feeds are our window on the world and we get to choose the view. 

That said, I've noticed that even with the most positive of feeds, the messages we take in from social media can still be discombobulating. Take my instagram account for example. I mostly follow fellow wellbeing warriors, life coaches and mental health advocates. It's a supportive, kin...

October 1, 2019

What does your black dog day look like?

For me, it’s a few days in the making. It’s a growing sense of something that starts as uneasiness, absorbing every little bit of negativity until it becomes outright panic. This is a high risk state. Here, I am a woman on the edge. I have little to no control.

I feel like I can’t cope with simple tasks and worry that one little thing more will be too much. Too much for what, I don’t know but that’s scary too. I know I’m on a tipping point but a tipping point to what? That’s when it feels most make or break and that’s when I know it’s time to regroup. At this point, self care and candles goes out the window and all that helps is isolation, bed and mindless tv. Lots of it. I have to shut the world out for a while, slowing to a stop long enough to let the dust settle and feel safe and back in control. 

I’m one of those strange outgoing introverts. I’m not shy and in the right circumstances I enjoy the limelight. How I know I’m an introvert is about ho...

August 14, 2019

Recognising the need to empty the stress bucket is an important part of maintaining good wellbeing. But at what point does factoring in wellbeing activties become yet another thing to do, in the melee of our busy lives? With sleep trackers, journals, step monitors, mood apps, all making demands of us, how does this impact our ability to relax? How do these devices and the pressures which come with them impact our relationship with relaxation? 

For the task driven, like myself, it can seem like a God send at first. There can be nothing more satisfying than ticking off an item on the to do list regardless of what it is. Post office; check. Emails; check. Grocery shopping; check. Meeting; check. Relaxation; check. But it soon proves a false economy. By including relaxation and rest in the same bracket as daily tasks, we hold it to the same standards. This can create shame in failure. So if you havn't reached your step goal or made it to art class or woken up early enough to meditate,...

August 5, 2019

Organised by the lovely Fearne Cotton, Happy Place Festival promised a day of love, calm, wellness and a little slice of happy. It did not disappoint. Set in the beautiful grounds of Chiswick House, we arrived at an oasis of stalls and zones all geared towards setting the scene for a perfectly serene day. In addition to relaxation stations and stalls by Happiful magazine, Rescue Remedy, CoppaFeel and more to browse, there was a talk tent boasting huge names and teepees for various bookable workshops. Here were my hi-lights from the day.

Writing Workshop with Wanda Canton

I had no idea what to expect from this. When I booked, classes were selling out fast so I didn't take a huge amount of time to explore the options thoroughly. This was posted as a 'writing for wellbeing workshop' which sounded right up my street so I booked it without much of a second thought. It turns out Wanda is a spoken word, rap and hip hop artist. It is fair to say I am not cool enough to be involved in anything to...

December 1, 2018

I've been teaching some PSHE lessons with Year 11 and decided to focus on wellbeing in a modern world. It opened a can of worms of thoughts and observations. The first of which was how quickly we've made more and more of our lives instantly gratifying. 

Walter Mischel figured out the problems with instant gratification, or more accurately, the benefits of delaying gratification, in the late 1960's and early 1970's. His 'marshmallow experiment' is still famous ( worth looking up if it's unfamiliar).  His findings showed that those able to wait and delay gratification in childhood went on to lead more successful lives. They were better able to deal with change, face and recover from challenges, were confident, self-sufficient and generally well rounded people. But this was in the 60's and 70's. How much more does the challenge of instant gratification present itself in today's society? 

How often do we turn to an online search engine instead of waiting it out when we ca...

October 14, 2018

I'm going to start by saying I know. I know that it's not as straightforward as mental health being the same as physical health, it's a little more complex than that but hear me out. I think there's a dialogue worth having or a train of thought worth exploring by comparing how we approach physical health and how we approach mental health. If it only helps us re-frame things. 

I recently delivered a talk on mental health and even during the planning stages, hit a stumbling block. Someone queried whether, we as educators (me as a 'lay person')  should be talking about mental health when it's not our (my) profession. At first I doubted myself and had a huge moment of what felt like impostor syndrome. What was I thinking? Who did I think I was? Then I started planning and remembered I have a lot to say on the subject. I do know my stuff (and my limitations). But it got me thinking. That would never happen in the same way with physical health. If a teacher was delivering a talk on perso...

August 25, 2018

It's happened a few times recently. I've described someone as being kind and had a moment of feeling like I hadn't used a strong enough word. We recently had interviews for a new Senior Leadership position at school and one part of the process for our candidates, was tea with a group of Year 7 girls. Colleagues and I observed how they interacted with the girls and got their feedback at the end. The girls were fantastic, sharing their thoughts and feelings about each candidate with careful honesty, making sure to say something positive about each one and handling criticism with tact. Talking to a colleague later I relayed that the girls had been 'so kind'. It felt a bit wishy washy but that wasn't how I meant it at all. 

Writing my Year 11 reports a matter of days later I found myself using 'kind' to describe one of the girls. I had the same twinge of uncertainty about the strength of the word. The young lady in question is no wall flower. She's rough around the edges, strong,...

December 3, 2017

I had some huge boots to fill when I took over as Housemistress here in Malvern. Mrs P was not only beloved by all but with years of experience, was superb at her job. We had a thorough handover and to this day, which is three years on, I still find the occasional post it note stuck to something with useful words of wisdom in her scribe. One bit of advice she gave has become a sort of mantra and underpins all my good practice. It's at the heart of what makes us excellent at pastoral care at my school. She said get to know your girls. Seems obvious, doesn't it? We're an all-girls school by the way, so same goes for girls, boys, polar bears. But that relationship building with each young person as an individual truly is the linchpin to successful pastoral care.


There's no avoiding it, getting to know students requires time. It doesn't matter how it's spent but time it will take. Doing an activity together is a great way to get to know someone. Those team building induction trips at th...

November 5, 2017

A year or so ago I introduced a 'Have Your Say' board in the boarding house. The idea is that in our weekly house meetings, we watch a video about an issue or something in the news that week. I produce a statement about it and ask the girls to weigh in and say whether they agree or disagree. The statement goes up on the board and the girls put a sticker under 'agree' or disagree' throughout the week. 

What's the point?

We don't do anything with it. The point is that the girls get used to critiquing an issue and forming an opinion about it. The point is to give a voice and make it acceptable to have an informed opnion regardless of what it is. The bonus is that it often sparks lively discussion. It also means that everyone has accessed current affairs in some way each week for those less keen on following what's going on in the world outside of our bubble. 

Just have an opinion

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Teenagers today have it harder than I did

October 9, 2016

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Keri Haw

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