Last Sunday, the #SLTchat topic was wellbeing, hosted by @ottleyoconnor, a topic this Twitter discussion forum has addressed before. The irony of teachers tweeting about work-life balance on a Sunday evening notwithstanding, I have always found theses discussions really useful and they have inspired these earlier posts on wellbeing.
Returning to wellbeing seems more relevant than ever. What struck me about the discussion was the number of participants writing about modelling wellbeing for others. This had been mentioned previously, but it seemed to me that it was a dominant theme of the most recent forum. @pickleholic, @issydhan, @chrisedwardsuk, and @AsstHead_Jones, among others, all stressed the importance of school leaders modelling behaviours that foster positive wellbeing.
How can we model what wellbeing looks like? Here’s my completely unscientific sample of elements grabbed from the blizzard of comment that is #SLTchat:
- It’s ok to leave early sometimes, especially when other days have been late.
- Touching base about family, interests, hobbies, books, films or music is normal human interaction. We’re here to get a job done but relationships are important.
- Share the things you do to foster your own wellbeing. I hope I haven’t bored anybody about #teacher5aday or the Fitbit I got for Christmas!
- Admit mistakes, talk about times when you got it wrong, and what you learned. OK, there’s a time and a place for this. There are many occasions where colleagues need leaders to lead, modelling calm and decisiveness, but being superhuman isn’t realistic and pretending to be can harm oneself and be off-putting to others.
- Ask for help. We need to be accessible to our teams, so we should model that it’s OK to ask for help. Teachers shouldn’t feel isolated and asking for help will show others that it’s ok to do the same.
- Smile. I’m terrible for getting lost in thought, presenting a blank gaze to others in the corridor, but a smile at the right moment can be just what someone needs.
- Make talking about mental health everyday and normal. I think this was another strong strand in the discussion, quite rightly.
So what I have taken away from last Sunday’s #SLTchat is the need to model behaviours that lead to wellbeing. I’ll be trying to do that more at work from now on. What was my contribution to the discussion on work-life balance? Leaving the chat early to pick my son up from youth club!