There is no question that Cover costs are on the rise. Teachers are leaving the profession in droves. The average length of sickness is increasing year on year. Behind these facts is the word stress. It’s is the most cited cause of career change. Stress is also the trigger behind chronic illnesses that are becoming more frequent. School spending on supply costs are up nearly 20% over three years. As school budgets get tighter, School leaders and governors need to find a way to reduce stress. As much as they’d love to, there can be no change in the circumstances. The testing system is here to stay and will become more rigorous and pressurised. This challenge is one that Imago Story has been considering and researching.
We have been working on our Resilience Training CPD entitled “Falling to Soaring.” We believe it is possible not only to survive but to thrive in this environment. It is a one day course with optional follow up features. The course centres around the connection between Autonomy, Accountability, Productivity and Well-Being. The Schools involved have seen real savings in monetary terms of up to 25% of their cover costs. School teams have also reported an increased sense of well being. This exists throughout the staff teams in the months after the workshop. Teams will be able to put some simple procedures and daily practices into place. Behaviours, feelings, and mindsets can alter, through practice. This will enable us to better cope with the strains of life in a modern classroom.
Teachers have very little autonomy over their working hours, colleagues, and holidays. Most teachers went into teaching to create inspirational learning experiences for children. Over the years they have found those ideas diminished, parallel to the increased focus on testing and bench marks. The testing culture means teachers will have less and less control over how and what they teach. This accountability, whilst important, further heightens the stress level. Teachers find themselves accountable for something they have no influence over. As we have looked at the importance of resilience and factors that can influence it; teachers have reported a better sense of well being.This can lead to a lower rate of long-term absence.
There are factors that teachers, school leaders and governors cannot influence. The important thing then is that we find things that can give teachers a sense of autonomy and control. When we do that we promote wellness! On top of that, we also save the
school money by lowering supply teacher costs. This frees up funds for the classrooms; better equipping teachers to do their jobs. This will promote learning in the classroom. The cycle is complete and simple but how do we do it?
At Imago Story We use story telling to explore the narratives of the day. Story telling is a proven tool in promoting a sense of autonomy over a situation. When we tell a story we are able to see the narrative for what it actually is. This prevents it from remaining the life ending cataclysmic event we perceive it to be. We are able to extract our feelings and give ourselves a moment to breathe to recover. Our audience plays a massive part in our narrative as well. How much they relate, or not, to our situation, the objective, caring outsider is able to ask questions. These further enable us to see the wood for the trees.
Our training centres around a creating a narrative. This narrative inspires healing and resilience proves that the old adage is true. “A trouble told is a trouble halved.” A school, whatever state it is in is a community. A group of teachers who are able to support
and strengthen each other is at the heart of that community. Through the Imago Story training we are well able to promote healing and as you Tell the Story, you build the team.
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Serena McCarthy is a qualified teacher and school leader. Having spent 15 years education and school leadership, both this country and the US, she has a wealth of experience. With a background in Performing Arts she is an engaging and passionate communicator. She believes that by telling the story we can build the team.
She currently lives in Coventry and started Imago Story in September 2016 to support teachers and school leaders in this challenging educational environment.