8 End of Term Well-Being Tips

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Ross Morrison McGill founded @TeacherToolkit in 2010, and today, he is one of the 'most followed educators'on social media in the world. In 2015, he was nominated as one of the '500 Most Influential People in Britain' by The Sunday Times as a result of...
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What will you do to ensure we all have a smooth end to the school term?

Imagine …

Imagine you are on a flight to Spain from London Heathrow and you are due to land after 2.5 hours of flying. The chances are, that in the last 30 minutes you will likely be desperate to get off the plane?

Now, consider another journey but further afield. For example, from London Heathrow to Bangkok in Thailand; the flight would typically last between 10 to 12 hours in length. Because of either of this expected flight path, a traveller will adjust one’s mindset to adapt to (any) length in journey. Again, due to an assumed pattern of behaviour, a traveller is likely to still be settling into the flight after the first hour and perhaps still, well into the halfway point of a long-haul flight.

How do these behaviour patterns compare regardless of the length in flight? And at what point is a passenger desperate to get off the plane, or start to feel physically uncomfortable?

In our minds, despite being prepared for a longer journey, one may become restless within the last hour and increasingly become desperate to get off the plane. This behaviour/mindset may also apply in a shorter haul flight.

When comparing these anxieties versus the length of travel, what are the differences? Mindset or distance, or both? And how does this link in with the teacher in the classroom and end of term you may ask?

shutterstock_274631798 Airplane passenger in shock while the plane is in a turbolence area

“A bumpy ride?”

Image: Shutterstock


End of Term Forecasting:

Well, in both of these examples, I equate the behaviours as end of term flight forecasting. Whether the term-time is six weeks or eight weeks in length, it doesn’t matter. As teachers we adjust our energy and effort levels according to how long we have yet to go before the end of term. By default, teachers give their absolute maximum to their work and to the students in their care. Despite an incredible workload, teachers have to get through a vast amount of work in such a short space of time. Typically, teachers become exhausted long before the end of term starts.

Energy levels will be sapping and tempers will escalate, even in the smallest and most simple conversations. For example, the smallest reminder or request to complete a task may be taken all out of proportion compared to a period of time when staff energies are at there best. Why is this?

It is therefore important that we are aware of our energy levels and relationships with students and staff as we approach another end of term. With this in mind, I write this with a couple of weeks left to go before the end of term to propose several well-being strategies for all teachers and school leaders to try before we earn out well-deserved rest.

This will hopefully avoid any unnecessary arguments and help promote staff well-being.

shutterstock_247097179 Aisle inside a plane. Interior with passengers on the seats

Image: Shutterstock

8 Well-Being Tips:

I’d like to offer some strategies to help; teachers cope with the end of term blues and, to keep emotions and fatigue in check.

  1. Think twice and three times again about sending ‘that email’. Particularly an email that may appear negative for whatever reason. Does the email need to be sent at all, particularly if you are tired or frustrated? I would question the purpose of any email. My advice here is what can be written which cannot be said in person? If it’s an emergency, does something need to be said collectively or individually? How will the person receiving this information feel? Is it something that can wait until the start of a new term?
  2. Focus on the positives. It is so easy at the end of term when you and everyone else is feeling tired, that we all forget the core purpose of what we are doing. Teaching and learning should trump everything that we do. This means going into lessons and focusing on positive aspects of teaching and students’ learning where possible. Go looking for positives stories. It will make you feel better and more importantly, make the students/staff feel valued.
  3. Say good morning. Say goodbye. Say thank you. And say it to everybody. Say it regularly.
  4. Buy someone or a team you line manage (or not) a box of chocolates. There are some great suggestions from the Teacher5ADay projects shared online. We know well-being is important nationally and no doubt it will be vital in your school too. Do something today to make someone feel good; give credit where it is due (or least expected).
  5. Look after yourself. Take time out of your normal routine to do something different. I rarely stop to have lunch because I am on duty every day to support students around the school site. This is so that our teachers can have a well deserved lunch. I don’t mean to be a martyr here, but if you find yourself always sitting in the same place in your office or in a particular place in the staffroom or school site, try something different. Sit with somebody else or find a change of scenery. You’ll feel better for it and so will that member of staff. If you are on lunch duty, try to rotate the things that you would typically do to help sustain your own well-being.
  6. As energy levels start to disappear, it is important to ensure that you maintain a good nights sleep in your own work-life balance. It sounds very minor, but a good nights sleep and a bottle of water work wonders for any busy teacher in the classroom.
  7. If you can look after yourself, try looking out for someone else who is in need of a bit of help. They may have bags under the eyes; they may have lost a bit of colour in their face: they may even have lost their renowned smile? Look out for the warning signs and do something about it to make them know you are thinking about them.
  8. End of term arrangements can make all the difference for your staff. Ensure any event is well-planned; offer cover if needed to help staff meet deadlines. Be flexible with working arrangements and if staff need encouraged, welcome them to be part of any staff social. Ensure provision is inclusive and that every member of staff is aware of rewards, recognition and well-being.

Why not give this some consideration? Pace yourself for the weeks and days ahead …

Look after yourself!


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2 thoughts on “8 End of Term Well-Being Tips

  1. (finally went through the WordPress registration process to comment on this!)
    RMM, ever since I did an Extreme Physics weekend where I punched through a wooden board, I’ve tried to explain pacing to end of term using the following metaphor. To break through the wooden board, you have to have confidence in yourself and aim for somewhere on the other side of the board. If you aim to stop at the board, you will not have enough momentum to go through the board to reach the other side. If you reset your mind and expectations to view the end of term as not “the end”, but almost the final chapter before an epilogue, then you may still “have something in the fuel tank”/Reserve to use at the beginning of the holiday. Although I do find this difficult, and it requires practice, this developed sense of delayed gratification and patience really gives me a boost. Your story of the passengers on a plane journey is also useful. When you’re on a flight, it can be difficult to deal with delays or being late reaching your destination. I try really hard to “let it go” so I remain seated while others stand in aisle, growing restless while the crew open doors etc. Waiting on a seat rather than standing to almost inevitably wait again for hold luggage just increases anxiety levels for me. I do dislike the abrupt ends of terms and extended periods off work to “go cold” before returning to work “cold”, without a “warm-up”. Keeping the cogs turning to wind-down sometime in the holiday is much easier than trying to get them to stop exactly at end of term. If your pace slows, the pupils may aim to match it, so precious momentum is lost, or if you try to force a stop, lots of energy will be lost braking and the force will be high and stressful/painful. Coasting after/past the end point, like an F1 driver at chequered flag, or rugby player crossing try-line, or an athlete crossing the finish line, is more practical for them than an abrupt halt. I think I have more to say, but will post this for now.

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