Wellbeing update October 2016


It’s been a while since my last wellbeing update; the last one was in July and can be found here.

Back at the end of last year I came across the #teacher5aday wellbeing movement.

Reading what had been happening over the previous 12 months amongst teachers with a commitment to wellbeing inspired me and I wrote a blog. The whole piece can be found here
At the end of it I made three vows….and once again it is time to reflect.

Vow 1. To myself. It is time I sorted this out once and for all. I love the Facebook ‘memories’ function where you can see where you were and what you were doing on this day in previous years. But I am concerned that I have been saying the same things about needing to slow down and look after better myself for 10 years. Now is the time. My family needs more of me and I need to accept that excuses won’t do any more. Only I can do this but but I am hoping for a bit of help from @Doctob’s book ‘Inner Story’ which fortuitously came into my possession recently.

Update: I think that, if I am honest, I have had mixed success here. I am still very busy but I have on the whole managed the busyness better. If I may quote the words of Oliver and Young’s song (my favourite version being by Bananarama and Funboy Three), “It Ain’t What You Do, It’s The Way That You Do It”.

Over the summer I took time to read back through my writing and I also did some additional writing which helped me to get to the heart of some of my behaviours and thinking.

I do work very hard. And I do play very hard. But I am also calmer, more focused and less stressed so that when I am with my family members and friends, I think I am more present, more relaxed, less distracted. 

It does not always work; the nature of my job makes it hard sometimes because the issues involved (particularly relating to Child Protection) are very serious and literally the stuff of nightmares. But I was reminded just yesterday that I do not need to bear these things  alone and that talking to others within a supervisory capacity is key.

It is a week until the start of our October holiday and as ever at the end of term, I am beyond tired. I also have a few niggling physical health issues which are warning signs that I need to take care.

So I have decided that, with a week to go, I am going to make an extra effort to rest, breathe, relax, notice, have fun and cut corners. This week will not be about driving myself into the ground and committing my last few drops of energy to work before collapsing in a heap next Friday.

This week is about building up some reserves again so that I feel ok when the holidays begin.

And this time I will start with the multi-coloured holiday plan on Thursday to get ahead of the chimps who usually start with their torment on day one of the break!! 

Vow 2: To education. I am doing the Scottish ‘Into Headship’ course this year and intend to learn all I can about how to be a Wellbeing-motivated educational leader.

Update: I have completed all aspects of the course except for a professional verification visit in which I will be judged against the standards for headship. In the end the project I worked on did not finish as planned but I have reflected on that and learnt from the issues that arose. Doing Into Headship has changed me as a leader beyond belief and I am hugely grateful for that.

I have sown small seeds in my own school this term in relation to promoting wellbeing. I have revamped my office to make it a wellbeing hub, I have started to challenge perceptions about how we support our most vulnerable pupils although I have also recognised that changing perceptions takes time. I have tried my hardest to support staff at a time of intense pressure resulting from austerity measures. 

I have written a ‘Friday Thoughts’ email to all staff each week to support the move towards greater wellbeing for all.

Do I want to be a head teacher still?  Yes. Will circumstances allow for that any time soon? Probably not. So for now, it is about using all the learning to be the best and most reflective leader I can be here and now.


Vow 3: To Twitter. I will use this forum to engage in the debate about wellbeing and teacher ‘agency’ and to support and nurture like-minded souls. I will not beat myself up if I don’t manage to tweet or blog as often as other brilliant twitterati friends…..(as I have in the past) but I will use Twitter for all its potential….

Update: I have continued to write on a weekly basis, both on staffrm where I am still doing the #44week challenge and here on my blog. As I have said above, blogging and sharing with likeminded people via Twitter and other platforms has been invaluable. I have become part of #digimeet and #HealthyTeacherToolbox and found real inspiration and support.

Last week I attended the amazing #PedagooMuckle in Glasgow and had the chance to connect for real with many likeminds. It was uplifting and nurturing and although, on the day before, I thought I’d have to drop out due to exhaustion, I am so glad I did not. I wrote a piece for it here:http://staffrm.io/@lenabellina/mk5WbFa8MA

I worry that maybe I spend too much time connecting online and not enough time connecting in ‘real’ life. But living in rural Scotland means that connecting face to face is not always easy and for me, the connection support provided virtual reality has been invaluable. 

Although, for example, I cannot be at the #womenEd Unconference today, I can connect in spirit.