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Happy teacher means happy students: 10 ways to put your own well-being first

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MAIDSTONE, England - Jan. 10, 2019 - eTradeWire -- The teachers we interview are all too often stressed and tell us that work-life balance in the profession is simply not achievable. We remind them that "happy teachers make happy students." Here are 10 ways to achieve teacher happiness:

1.       Mark less

Results of a recent government survey show that teachers spend over 8 hours per week marking. Are our students really benefitting from having every mistake corrected? Concise, yet focused whole class feedback session is far more effective. Why not experiment with this for a few weeks?

2.       Plan more

Time dedicated to planning is time well spent. More effective, well-thought-out planning of lessons, of units of work, of concise (and easy to mark) assessments and homeworks will mean that you spend less time panic photocopying worksheets or faced with the horrendous task of marking a set of work which the students have attempted without really understanding. The American writer and self-improvement guru, Daniel Carnegie, said "An hour of planning can save you 10 hours of doing."

3.       Talk to people

If you are lucky enough to work in a supportive school then make sure you benefit from talking to your colleagues, sharing concerns and anxieties and being open about things you have may have got wrong. If you don't feel that you work in a "safe" school, then seek out the colleagues you can trust, or meet with other teachers outside school. It is vital to be able to chat about your experiences with like-minded colleagues.

4.       Get enough sleep

I am sure that you are not unfamiliar with burning the midnight oil in order to finish a set of reports, complete a data analysis, mark a set of books etc. Whenever you can, try to consider how important sleep is for your own well-being and avoid these late-night sessions. Leading neuroscientist, Matthew Walker, explains in his recent book "Why We Sleep" that "No aspect of our biology is left unscathed by sleep deprivation." As teachers, we need to be alerat and focused,s o we should avoid sleep deprivation as much as we can.

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5.       Break the negative cycle of breaktime conversations

Avoid, at all costs, the type of school conversation which focuses on grumbling and seeing the negative in everything and everyone. It can seem like a relief, initially, to have a moan with other colleagues; however, this can become a habit. This type of negativity has an extremely detrimental effect on your mental well-being, especially if you are already unhappy at work. While you may have good reason to moan, you may inadvertently slip into a vicious circle of pessimism and helplessness which will not solve anything.

6.       Remind yourself regularly why you are doing the job

Teaching is a wonderful job. Honestly, it is. I am sure, deep down, you can acknowledge this. The unfortunate reality is that we are often so insanely busy and frequently stressed that we cannot see the wood for the trees. It is not our fault; the job has become hugely demanding in the past few decades and you are doing well just to still be in the profession. It might help to regularly remind ourselves of everything we enjoy about teaching. Let's start with the holidays...

7.       Give out compliments

It is a well-documented fact that kindness to others improves our own mental well-being. Dr Wayne Dyer, in his book "The Power of Intention" says 'Research has shown a simple act of kindness directed towards another improves the functioning of the immune system and stimulates the production of serotonin in both the recipient of the kindness and the person extending the kindness.' At school, this could simply mean passing on a positive comment you heard a student make about a colleague's lesson.

8.       Be authentic

The biggest mistake to make would be to try to please everyone all the time. You are only human and you must realise that you will certainly not be able to achieve this. If you do try, it could have a serious effect on your mental health. The best option is to be yourself in all situations. Be honest when you need help. Be assertive when you know that you have a lot of experience in a particular area.

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9.       Be mindful

Put simply, mindfulness is about being aware of what is going on around us right now. We can become absorbed in our thoughts and, unfortunately, it can often be the negative thoughts we become fixated with. Practising mindfulness suggests that you step back from these thoughts and learn how to identify which ones make you feel anxious. A useful metaphor is to imagine your thoughts as bubbles generated by a bubble machine in your mind. You can choose to let certain thoughts drift away and burst.

10.   Take on a new project

As humans we thrive on trying new things and, as clich├ęd as it sounds, our brains do respond well to new challenges. Think about what aspect of your job really motivates you and think of how you could work on something innovative in this area. Speak to your leadership team about it and emphasise how this will be beneficial for the school and motivating for you. Making your job as easy as possible may seem appealing, but sometimes it can lead to a sharp decline in job satisfaction.

Remember, you are the biggest expert on you, so make sure you use all that expert knowledge to look after yourself. Your students will thank you for it.

This article was written by Rebecca Howard, a former Head of MFL who is now director of www.kentsupplyteachers.co.uk and continues to teach MFL.

Rebecca Howard

Source: Kent Supply Teachers
Filed Under: Education

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