We hope you have enjoyed a successful start to the new term following a relaxing summer break. The return to school can be a joyous occasion for educators raring to get back to what matters most: forging bright futures for young people.
Yet for many teachers, the start of term is a nerve wracking experience. The coronavirus pandemic has magnified the normal stresses of the job so much that, just two weeks into the start of the last academic year, teachers’ associations were already sounding the alarm about widespread staff exhaustion.
With many coronavirus regulations now lifted from schools' shoulders, September 2021 should be a smoother experience for all. After everything teachers have been through these past 18 months, you deserve a fulfilling start to the year.
To help you feel your best, we have put together a fresh batch of tips and resources to help you look after your emotional and mental wellbeing this new academic year.
Start with self-care
Children won’t fulfil their potential if their teachers are stressed and frazzled. Teaching is always going to be a demanding job even at the best of times, so it’s important to build up an arsenal of techniques and practices to guard yourself against burnout.
More than just a vogueish phrase, self-care entails whatever routines and actions one consciously takes to make themselves feel healthy and positive. What this looks like is totally up to the individual.
Protocol Education’s resident wellbeing expert Ruth Bell has some recommendations for teachers looking to practice better self-care in their working lives. ‘Keep yourself healthy with good nutrition and fitness regimes. Drink lots of water over the course of the day and minimize your coffee intake. Very few things are more important than time to recharge, so make sure you switch off from work at the weekend to rest and focus on your own outside interests. And above all, get yourself enough sleep!’
Ruth has also collected some handy online resources for teachers looking to protect their wellbeing. We hope you find them useful.
Mentally Healthy Schools: an anxiety thermometer as a wellbeing measurement tool.
Mental Health at Work:* Supporting Educators' Mental Health during the pandemic. Round-the-clock one-to-one support by call or text from trained volunteers, plus resources, tips and ideas to look after your mental health.
NHS:*Mental Health Helplines for Urgent Help - NHS 24-hour advice and support for you, your child, your parent or someone you care for. Help is available to speak to a mental health professional.
NHS IAPT:* free online NHS adult psychological therapies, such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), for common problems involving stress, anxiety and depression. IAPT services can be accessed either through a self-referral by contacting your Local IAPT or via your GP.
Cruse Bereavement Care:* Coronavirus, Bereavement and Grief online information, advice and support. Helpline: 0808 808 1677.
Headspace:* Headspace for Educators offers educators access to free mindfulness and meditation exercises and resources for every age group, and a free Headspace Meditation App.
Centre for Mental Health:* Supporting Mental Health during Covid-19: a brief guide
Public Health EnglandEvery Mind Matters:* Looking After Your Mental Health Resources to support everyone to feel more confident in taking action to look after their mental health and wellbeing by promoting a range of self-care actions.
Public Health England:* Every Mind Matters Self-Care Tool - when you complete the 5 ‘Survey’ questions, a ‘Mind Plan’ is generated, with signposting options to many useful resources.
Young Minds: 10 Wellbeing Tips for School Staff
Ruth also hosts regular Mindfulness webinars via Zoom, so keep an eye on our news section to find out about upcoming sessions. You can watch our session from earlier on the year on mental health and wellbeing in schools here.
Taking care of your emotional health will help you unlock your potential. The new academic year is the perfect chance to renew your focus and passion as an educator. Why not try out some positive changes that will level up your teaching skills?
Great teachers are always striving to improve, and Protocol Education is committed to giving them the tools to do so. That’s why we offer discounted Continuing Professional Development (CPD) training courses to all our registered tutors through our partnership with the New Skills Academy.
These quick online courses will bring you up to speed with the latest best practice in contemporary teaching. We’ve specially selected a few courses to support the return to school that you can browse through here.
As any teacher knows, you can learn a lot just by working with other educators and soaking up their knowledge and experience. Don’t be afraid to ask for advice and feedback from a trusted staff member – there’s nothing quite as valuable as having a frank and open voice to keep you grounded. There are also many online communities and networks out there for teachers to exchange ideas, experiences and jokes – check out a few here.
Amidst the hustle and bustle of a new term, don’t lose sight of your longer-term goals. Where do you want to take your career, and what yardsticks can you use to keep yourself on track? This isn’t about unhealthy, excessive self-criticism; it’s about keeping that fire lit in your belly that spurs you on to be the best you can be.
Outside of the classroom, it’s always worth investing time in exploring and honing a new skill like a musical instrument, foreign language or cuisine. Reconnecting with the sensation of learning can make you a sharper and more attuned teacher.
As we look ahead to the new term and beyond, keep some of these strategies for better emotional wellbeing in mind. You’ll thank yourself in a few months when, instead of staggering into the Christmas holidays exhausted and spent, you can walk out of school with a sense of pride at a job well done.