A guest blog from Listen Up Mentor.
Every Academic Year school staff get pulled left, right and centre. Why? Because the need is great! Often schools have one or if they are lucky two mentors. These mentors are supporting the most vulnerable pupils with emotional needs. They are also at capacity leaving many children needing a lot of attention from you. That extra care means more time and energy you need to use, to get through the day. That time and energy you lose can start to take its toll, which is why it is essential to look after yourself.
Here are our tips to make sure you perform at your best and give your children what they deserve.
1# Enjoy yourself! You must experience life! That could be spending time with loved ones, travelling the world or even getting some well-deserved sleep! The important thing you need to do is find out what gives you life. Recharge first! Remember when you started teaching or supporting? How you thought you could take on the world. You were fresh and ready to try new ideas. Sometimes when we fill every waking hour, working weather that be giving feedback or planning the next lesson, we often work slower and harder. We need to stay sharp. Staying sharp is taking a step back to sharpen your tools, and the best tool you have is yourself. Enjoy yourself!
2# Learn some new theories. New ideas come out all the time. To make sure you are performing at your best, invest in learning new theories. That could be reading modern mentoring literature to support your vulnerable children or taking a short course. As school staff, we help others grow, then neglect our growth! Not because we feel we know it all, but because our mind-set is to help others. We forget to help ourselves. You might say you do not have time. The secret is, you make time for what you prioritise. When you do not put yourself and growth first, you will get stuck and eventually fall behind all the other school staff who have made time for personal growth.
3# Reflect and prepare. The school I work for has a developed coaching culture. Most members of our staff volunteer to see a coach on a fortnightly basis. School staff have MADE time to support each other. I am a coach (in training), and I have a coach. I have time in the week where I sit down and reflect on my practice; this has been a valuable time for me.
I want to stress the importance of this time. A time where you can reflect on what worked and what just didn’t. A time where you can manage your caseload. Did you manage to give your best to every child? Did you have too many children and young people to teach? These are all simple questions that will you reflect on your practice.
1. What has been the hardest part of this academic year? Why?
2. What has worked well since September?
3. What didn’t work well?
4. How many many hours have you worked at home this week?
5. Do you have enough time to plan each lesson or intervention, or are you blagging it?
6. Are you able to review your children regularly?
7. Do you you know who need one-to-one or small group sessions?
8. Are you equipped with new resources and ideas?
9. Do you have someone to discuss workload with, regularly?
10. What did you enjoy most last year?
These ten questions may give you an idea of where to start investing your time. There is one thing I would like to ask you. Who in your school supports the children who have emotional needs? If your school has not got a mentor, we suggest you train someone to help those children; this will, in turn, support you. Wellbeing sometimes gets lost in schools and having someone who dedicates their time to support those children could greatly benefit not just that child but the teacher and the whole class. Listen Up Mentor is trying to help schools with this. Can we help you? To all support staff and teachers: rest, learn, prepare.
Thanks for reading.
Director at Listen Up Mentor