Dear Amazing Teachers and Educational Leaders,
I am writing this letter after recent media coverage around teacher workload, bullying in our schools and the impact of social media on our students . Whilst I deeply understand the gravity of these issues, my focus for this address is on your wellbeing.
As an ex Principal myself and having taught across both Primary and Secondary sectors, I understand the enormous pressures both Principals and teachers can be under. 2016 NZEI statistics on Principal and Teacher wellbeing also reiterates this.
Workload, student behaviour, MOE, BOT and school expectations, extra-curricular activities are but some of the pressures that can cause us stress, imbalance and eat-away at our sense of resilience and emotional wellbeing.
Amidst all of this, we have a choice to how we wish to respond. Like dropping pebbles into a pond, we can choose what pebbles we wish to drop, and the ripple-effect we wish to create. We first need some strategies to help us select the right 'pebbles'.
As Roche Martin's Emotional Intelligence trainer for New Zealand, I would like to encourage you to consider three things/pebbles to maintain your wellbeing and create helpful 'ripples' in your world:
- Talk with someone if it is getting too much. Seek a trusted advisor/mentor to off-load and seek some clarity, perspective and actions to move forward.
- STOP! Too often when things can get on-top of us, we can tend to burrow-down even further into our work in the hope that if we just get 'this' task done, we will get on-top of things. This thinking causes us to go deeper into overwhelm and lose perspective and productivity. Force yourself to rest, to do something for yourself - go for a walk, catch up with a friend for coffee, watch a movie. When we take time out, it can help clarify our thinking and bring us back into better emotional alignment.
- Nourish yourself with good self-talk. Someone once said to me that they call teaching the 'Profession of Guilt' - we constantly think "We could've...", "We should've...". Start to become aware of these messages that are on re-play in your mind and consider "Is it helpful?" "Is it true?" "Is it kind?" "What do I have control over right now?"
As you go forward this week and do the amazing jobs you do for the tamariki in your care, please remember to look after yourselves and each other. Consider what pebbles you will drop into your own and others pond that will create ripples of nourishment rather than negativity.