It’s easy to get swept along with the wellbeing revolution, isn’t it? Being passionate about improving the lives of the people around me and being inspired by what other schools like Magna Carta (@cerasuteach) were achieving I got the bug about this time last year. I was gung ho and ready to transform my school overnight! Let's just say it's going a little slower than anticipated. So here are some tips for getting started and staying the course of your wellbeing journey.
Plan for the long run, prepare for tomorrow
Have a vision. What do you want wellbeing to look like at your school? Now with that vision in mind, rewind to the present moment. What small step can you take right now to make a start? Think small start, big finish. You’ll be surprised how quickly you inch forward moments at a time. Don’t let big ambitions get in the way of progress, no matter how small.
Pitching – you don’t have to reinvent the wheel
Next, you’ll need to get your SLT on board. Every school is different but you...
If you're reading this, it's likely you have an established interest in wellbeing. You'll know the importance of self care, exercise, connecting with others, balance between work and life and so on. But there's also a good chance you're a committed educator, passionate about your vocation and dedicated to those you teach, care for and work with. That said it won't be unusual for you to check work emails out of hours, to spend your holidays preparing resources or if in boarding, spending some or all of your days off in school for important concerts, house events, matches; the list is endless, right? So, as people who are committed to sharing the value of wellbeing as well as being dedicated educators, how on earth do we balance the books between the two?
This term I got it wrong. I came down with shingles just after half term. Whilst I didn't cause myself to become ill, certain behaviours had led to me being extremely run down, which almost certainly caused my s...
I first started watching Grey's Anatomy in my early twenties, completely emotionally enthralled and convinced that the complicated and often ludicrous story lines were mirroring my relatively unexciting life. But I came back to it more recently, watching from the very beginning and was surprised to see so many traits I now consider to be Keri-isms, practices I had adopted as my own, actually stemmed from Grey's Anatomy. So here are my top 5 ways to live life according to Grey's Anatomy.
1. Dance it out.
When life hands you lemons, throw them back and shake your thing to your favourite tunes. Stressed? Dance it out. Pissed off? Dance it out. Overwhelmed? Dance it out. And we're not talking about your best tried and tested moves on the dancefloor, we're talking about flailing around your kitchen in your pants with zero care for what you look like. It's magical. Trust me. My tune of choice is 'Something Good Can Work' - what's yours?
Piling into the TV room on a Saturday and Sunday evening with a bunch of girls and some nachos ready to shout our commentary at the telly is one of the many joys of boarding. I often look around the room noting the mix of girls of different ages and backgrounds and see them acting as siblings. It's a beautiful thing.
Watching TV together is an opportunity for many things. The girls often critique sexist adverts for example and so much television, things like X Factor in particular offer opportunities for debate. I have been told off at least twice for criticising men for not wearing socks with their shoes and reminded that 'you should be commenting on the singing, not what they're wearing Miss H'. We've had opportunity to explore issues of gender, sexuality, censorship and so on.
But this year I have found myself doing something I haven't done before. I'm backing the underdog. I was never keen on the likes of Jedward, Rylan, Wagner and all the other token comic acts over the...
Cue lots of metaphors about being on a journey. Brace yourselves!
The road to whole school wellbeing is not a sprint. It's more like a multi-marathon. A tough mudder, obstacle clad, 'this is sparta' style multi-marathon. OK perhaps I'm exaggerating but plain sailing it is not. Nor should it be. The road to whole school wellbeing should be paved with practices to try on for size, keep, adjust or discard, as appropriate.
I already mentioned this path started for me as I took on Anti-Bullying at school. Having heard of Anti-Bullying Pro's Ambassador scheme and thought that was the right way for us to go. With SLT approval I went about booking a day's training. For those of you unfamiliar, they do wonderful work in schools, training up young people as Anti-bullying Ambassadors. They champion anti-bullying, are there for peers to approach if they feel they are being bullied, raise awareness and organise anti-bullying activities and events. Brilliant. SLT approve, girls are excited,...
Those of you who are a generation ahead of me are probably rolling your eyes right now. You walked 5 miles to school through sleet and hurricanes and A Levels were harder in your day and they knew how to discipline back then…. am I right? OK so I’m clearly taking the piss. There were obviously more physical hardships on teenagers in years gone by that young people today don’t have to experience. Getting to school is more convenient. Discipline is now called sanctions and is more about conversation than cane. Homework can be typed. Answers can be googled. And if your niche happens to be fencing stood on your head whilst reading feminist literature chances are your school can cater for that.
So what am I talking about when I say teens have it harder than I did? Than we did.
I didn’t get a mobile phone until I was 16. Maybe a year or two before that I had a pager. I know, so nineties right?! We had a computer but it wasn’t on the internet until I was a sixth former. When I came home from...
Several things happened at the beginning. I finished my degree and was asking myself 'what next?'. I took on the role of Anti-Bullying Lead and started working closely with our Head of Pastoral Care. I was promoted to Deputy Head of Boarding, a new position with scope to develop the role and what it entailed. And more and more I recognised a craving in myself and those around me for all things wellbeing.
Whole year groups needing stress relief, many needing to raise their self-esteem, individuals facing mental health issues, staff working their socks off and feeling frazzled.... The list goes on.
Realising this was something other schools were interested in and that there were other people like me out there, passionate about wellbeing I wanted to see how far we could go. How big could this be? The answer is colossal! I attended a Youth Mental Health & Welllbeing Teachmeet at the wonderful Magna Carta School. I got in touch with Clare Erasmus, their Mental Health & Wellbei...
I'm not going to patronize you by giving the Oxford dictionary definition but a quick google search reveals the general consensus is that wellbeing is a state of being happy and healthy. During a chat with a colleague recently she asked, 'isn't wellbeing is just another word for mental health?' We're all aware of the stigmas which surround mental health and so perhaps re-framing it as wellbeing, a hot topic at the moment, is society's way of dealing with the mental health crisis in schools without having to call it mental health. This got me thinking. What is wellbeing?
After giving it some consideration I decided that for me, working on our wellbeing is the maintenance side of mental health. If our mental health management was on a scale, at one end you'd have the extreme of sectioning and medication to deal with crisis point mental ill health and at the other end you'd have the brushing your teeth equivalent. The day to day practices which keep us ticking over, h...