20 years of teaching has left me thinking…
‘I really want to help students learn and grow, but there just seems so much to do, all of the time – it is relentless!’
Latest assessment data entry, upcoming parents evening, department meeting, the latest initiative to go into schemes of work, marking for tomorrow, lesson planning for tomorrow, ooh, and I forgot – I’m on duty!
Teaching can get so hectic at times that we can feel so divorced from why we became teachers – to share the love of our subjects, to help and nurture the students we teach. How on earth did we ever get so marginalised from this?
Mindfulness can reconnect you with your intentions to be a teacher. It brings a reality to what is possible and what is not possible. It gives you permission and the skills to say ‘no’ when needed. It puts you and your loved ones back at the centre of your life. It reconnects you with the students you came into teaching to help in the first place. It also shows you that you are not alone in this struggle – you are normal.
What does Mindfulness for teachers offer?
An 8 week on site or online easy to access course
Keeping things simple keeps this course accessible. The 90 minute weekly sessions normally run after school in a quiet classroom or online. It does involve a daily home practice commitment of 15 mins. Similar to learning a new instrument, I can show you what to do, but ultimately it will be your personal practice which will determine how well you can play.
Run by a teacher for teachers and other staff in school or online.
Still teaching in the classroom on a weekly basis, I know the stressors and challenges and tailor the course to meet the group’s needs. Teaching assistants and support staff have also said how useful they have found the course in terms of managing their workload and being calmer in interactions with students and colleagues.
An accredited course with National Recognition.
I lead the .b foundations course for teachers provided by the Mindfulness in Schools Programme. This is a charitable organisation whose programmes are spearheading an all-parliamentary group backed research project through Oxford University. The research (costing £5.5 million) is examining the role of Mindfulness in developing adolescent resilience through school programmes.
Research has shown Mindfulness reduces levels of stress in teachers (Emerson et al 2017).
In a systematic review of research conducted with 589 teachers it was found that through de-centring (the ability to consider a situation from multiple angles) teachers have enhanced self-awareness, are able to better regulate their attention as well as increasing their self-compassion. This led to better regulation of their emotions, increased self-efficacy and ultimately reduced stress. Putting teacher welfare first!
Two clips – for different parts of the staffroom. The first 3 min clip is some teachers from Bristol reflecting on how they found an 8-week Mindfulness course.
Thank you to mindfulness4all for sharing this clip on YouTube for all of us to watch.
The second 3 min clip is a lighthearted cartoon (including rainbows and unicorns!) which has a simple example of how Mindfulness can work in your daily life.
Thank you to Happify for sharing this clip on YouTube so we can all watch it.
Typically, I won’t know your staff, your teachers, your school and your pupils. So my first step is to be in your school, in your lessons and working alongside your teachers for a short period. It will give me an understanding of the day-to-day demands you face. My 20 years of frontline teaching give me an overview of the territory, but not the map of your experience – you are the expert.
When working together in a group we focus very much on the ‘here and now’ of direct experience. We don’t get involved in school politics or who said what, this is about every individual sharing as much or as little as they want about the variety of practices and exercises we do in sessions and in home practice.
The camaraderie and support that grows within the group over the 8 weeks always staggers me as people journey through it together. The universality of experience can come as such a relief and liberation – ‘it is not just me who feels like this’. Crucially, tools are also learnt to make changes, moving from a human ‘doing’ back into a human ‘being’.