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Staff wellbeing
26

MinnieLatte · 25/03/2021 20:13

I’m a headteacher and need some suggestions to support well-being of the staff please. It’s been a bloody hard year and I’ve done my best to support staff with minimising workload, we’ve not had staff meetings if we didn’t need to, I haven’t dropped in to online lessons & we allocated a training day to well-being, I.e. stay in your Pjs at home & do what you like day.

I know it’s hard having the children back and we’ve got lots to catch up on, lots to plan & I still have to lead the school forward. They’re starting to flounder.

I don’t want to do enforced fun type activities, for them such as staff yoga or group bonding, I think they’d hate it. I don’t want to do shout outs for individuals as they’d think that was false, things like dropping chocolate anonymously to a teachers classroom once a week just seems a bit naff. I’d always prefer to try to minimise workload & let people just go home & relax as they would choose.

They all had a bottle of wine from me in July & Christmas, this went down well! They like cakes & chocolate in the staff room!

If you are a stressed out teacher what could your boss do to try & make you smile? Thanks

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RuleWithAWoodenFoot · 25/03/2021 21:13

Give me half an hour during the day to do shit admin. Not every day, just a random surprise. Cover my class.

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RuleWithAWoodenFoot · 25/03/2021 21:14

Oh, my head got everyone a covid vaccine. Pretty much makes her a hero this year.

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MinnieLatte · 25/03/2021 22:02

Yeah, I can cover classes a bit & have done that so people had an hour’s marking or admin time each. I also marked work from when I covered! God I need more hours in the day to do this more for everyone.

I’m impressed with your HT getting everyone a Covid jab!

What else???

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BackforGood · 25/03/2021 22:38

I think everything you have said in your OP is great. I opened this thread to shout NO to forced fun or relaxation type 'wellbeing days' or meetings.
I think people are under all sorts of pressures - particularly, but not exclusively - those with children, and just knowing that you will do what you can to support them to get through this makes all the difference.

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MrsHamlet · 25/03/2021 23:32

I would like be thanked, privately and genuinely, for the things I do.
I'd like the staff loo painted.
I'd like not to be spoken to like I'm an idiot.

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HercwasanEnemyofEducation · 26/03/2021 06:18

Reduce the marking load of you can. Does the work need to be marked or is it enough that the teacher has seen it during the lesson? Consider whether your policies are onerous.

Look at "pinch points". Eg do you have parents evening, reports, and assessments all due in the same week?

Cull unnecessary meetings. They can be an email.

You sound lovely which helps! Be realistic about catch up and plans. Is it really necessary to plan everything to the nth degree. Instead could you say "I trust you to do what is best for the children".

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Meredusoleil · 26/03/2021 20:06

Give us a pay rise or failing that, a day off 😁

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longsigh · 27/03/2021 08:03

Yes to genuine thanks or you are a doing a good job or the children looked engaged and happy when I popped in.
Sometimes my head pops into/ through my classroom and if she said alter in the day " That was great teaching" or something like that it would really give me a boost.

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monkeysox · 27/03/2021 09:27

Cull unnecessary meetings. They can be an email.
Dont have twilight cpd childcare for these is a nightmare.
Do not have a meeting on staff well-being and show an exemplar daily schedule that has the teacher in at 8 am and them doing voluntary break and lunch duties (our did this)
Can't get there that early due to childcare

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MinnieLatte · 27/03/2021 09:33

Some great suggestions thanks.

I think what I’m struggling with is that I want to support them, I know it’s so hard at the moment but I desperately don’t want them to think I’m patronising them! Grin

I do genuinely mean it when I thank them but is that enough?

It doesn’t help that we’re strapped for cash, are in a difficult area and have outside pressures. I’d love to give most of them a pay rise but that just can’t happen.

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RuleWithAWoodenFoot · 27/03/2021 09:58

do you have parents evening, reports, and assessments all due in the same week?

This has been us for the last 3 weeks. AWFUL. We've got senior teachers rebelling and refusing to input data because it's just ANOTHER hour spent with those fricking papers. We have to administrate parents evenings ourselves, so that's 2 hours of organising meetings on Teams, plus the parents evening itself.

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Meredusoleil · 27/03/2021 10:56

It's a common problem in schools everywhere, not having the budget/funds to do what you need. But whatever you do OP, please don't get rid of the MMS and make the staff cover all the break and lunch duties by themselves (including serving the school dinners)!!

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MrsHamlet · 27/03/2021 11:01

One particularly brutal term, our HT cancelled everything after school. There were no parents' evenings planned, but he cancelled dept meeting and twilight and revision and detentions (except for the senior team one) and extra sessions.
We were all incredulous, but it really did prove how much "extra" we do that's not essential.
I'd like to be told things before parents are (or maybe even asked)
When my opinion is sought, I'd like to think it's listened to
I'd like to be asked whether something is convenient for me before it's arranged (when calendared meetings are moved)

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parrotonmyshoulder · 27/03/2021 11:02

All of what you’re doing, including avoiding the patronising shit, sounds great.
Genuine thanks (not praise), talking to staff about outside (political) pressures and how they affect morale, definitely reducing workload.
Our head does not send emails after hours or at the weekend. This spreads into the general culture of the staff team. I’ve only been there a term and it has been a literal life changer for my family and me.

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MrsHamlet · 27/03/2021 11:04

Emails....
When someone on SLT is going to send an email, make sure that:
A) it's very clear
B) it's very succinct
C) that everyone on SLT has checked and agreed it

That avoids a further torrent of emails which all slightly contradict each other.

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SquashedFlyBiscuits · 27/03/2021 11:20

If you are grumpy or snap at any point because you are under pressure acknowledge this and apologise.
Realise that although the pressures you have been under as a head the past year have been enormous (I really do feel very sorry for heads.), the personal risks to your safety, and that of you family, are likely to be lower than those your teachers are taking and definitely lower than those of the support staff.
Don't tell us to take a break at the weekend, as you know we are all under pressure,and tired, but then have two book looks and a learning walk in the diary for the next week.
From the sounds of your op though you probably don't need this advice.
I am sure your staff already feel well supported.

A more practical one. Be a gate keeper for email requests. Anything that people want the whole staff to do has be sent through to you so it can be put in a weekly email. That way email is reduced, staff have one email to refer to in order to check deadlines and you can bounce back any requests that you think are unnecessary in order to reduce workload.

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parrotonmyshoulder · 27/03/2021 11:25

Gatekeeper for emails is good but also gatekeeper for parental complaints and pressures if you can.
I hope your staff do appreciate what you’re doing.

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MinnieLatte · 27/03/2021 12:50

Thanks, again there’s some great ideas I can make sure we do.

The comment about being a gatekeeper for emails is interesting & everything coming on a weekly email. We do have a weekly email instead of coming together for a briefing which we did before Covid. However, I’m trying to develop a couple of middle leaders & have asked them to send out a couple of emails, almost for them to be seen as the subject leader & taking responsibility, perhaps that’s getting on people’s nerves a bit.

I never email or phone after 4pm having once had a boss that regularly emailed & texted at midnight!!

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MrsHamlet · 27/03/2021 12:55

Ban all staff emails about pointless shite. This week we had one about a lost pencil case.
200+ staff did not need to know.
We then got the inevitable "reply all - I've not seen it. I don't teach x"
We then got the all staff "it's been found in a room the student has lessons in"
We have email groups for each student so you can email student x's teachers without emailing everyone else.
We have subject dept and year team groups too. I don't have a form so that is a whole swathe of emails I don't get. It's marvellous.

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funniestpersonyouknow · 27/03/2021 15:59

I'm not a teacher but support staff (covering safeguarding and attendance) at a large secondary - we have been completely forgotten and are absolutely seen as "second rate citizens" within the school community - to the point where after less than a year I am looking for a new position. My suggestion would be don't overlook those in non-teaching positions, I applaud what many teachers having been doing but there are so many other roles that contribute towards the well being and safety of pupils which has never been more important.

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Bluewavescrashing · 27/03/2021 19:03

Cancel the staff meeting. The biggest gift is the gift of time. Costs nothing. Instant happiness.

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EdithGrantham · 27/03/2021 19:06

I'm in primary and would love some spending money for my class, over the weeks we've been back in full I've probably spent around £30 of my own money already on resources. There are other things I feel our children would really benefit from which individually don't cost a lot but I can't keep supplementing from my own pocket. If I was told I had even just £50 to spend on my class I'd be made up!

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Bluewavescrashing · 27/03/2021 19:18

True. I've bought felt tip pens, small world toys, coloured pencils, coloured card and an electric pencil sharpener since December. All of them have made my life easier and improved learning but we shouldn't have to do it really.

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CoRhona · 28/03/2021 00:23

@funniestpersonyouknow

I'm not a teacher but support staff (covering safeguarding and attendance) at a large secondary - we have been completely forgotten and are absolutely seen as "second rate citizens" within the school community - to the point where after less than a year I am looking for a new position. My suggestion would be don't overlook those in non-teaching positions, I applaud what many teachers having been doing but there are so many other roles that contribute towards the well being and safety of pupils which has never been more important.

I think this is really sad. I'm support staff too (different dept) and I sent our Head two emails on Friday detailing a number of issues way above my pay grade which he acted on straight away.

That sort of support is invaluable and I emailed to say I really appreciated it.
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WombatChocolate · 30/03/2021 13:15

Have a weekly staff bulletin. Everyone needs to feed their notices into that rather than 1000 emails per week that no-one can ever then find.

Dont allow people to make announcements or take slots in meetings if it can be said via the above bulletin...ie it’s just information.

Make sure your calendar works. That means there aren’t too many deadlines or parents evenings or after school meetings in the same week.

Think about your testing schedules and assessment and marking schemes and as you add each event to the schedule, note down how long it wil take a typical teacher to do that work so you can keep track of what is reasonably.

Absolutely cancel a scheduled meeting if it turns out there’s really nothing very I left at going to happen there or an email would do the job.

When there are the odd slack times in the year, perhaps when exam classes leave or similar, do not be tempted to fill the windows with meetings and stuff but allow a little bit of time that isn’t running at 150%.

Yes to being very aware of what people are doing and making sure you thank them for above and beyond. Mention them to governors too. And if you want people to volunteer to do extra things like run trips, do t then make those so onerous in their expectations that anyone who take sit on wishes they hadn’t and never offers again.

Time your INSET days after talking with staff...what would work well for them. You probably won’t please all.

Tackle the Nigel’s annoying things that make getting the day to day job done really difficult like inefficiencies or lack of basic supplies. Ask staff to identify 2 or 3 they would change that would make their lives easier that do not cost money or do t cost much money. Also ask them where money might be saved.

Keep your finger in Theo use by having 2 or three people you speak to regularly about feeling on the ground....from different departments or experience levels. Have a suggestions box if you want to. Go for one or two quick wins. Be prepared to put some time and effort into delivering a couple which actually will make a difference.

Avoid tokenism of scheme like kind apples, meditation etc which tell people to make time to do things they enjoy. People know when it’s box ticking.

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