What Do You and Your Students Need?

Reading Time: 4 minutes

A Guest Post by Julie Leoni @LoveBeingMeUK

Julie Pic



How often do you stop to ask yourself what you need?  I’m guessing that you spend so much of your time making sure that everyone else gets what they need that you sometimes forget about yourself.  That stops here!

Many of you will be aware of Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs which he said is what motivates people:

julie maslow

Maslow said that we can’t meet the higher needs until we have met the needs below them.  I don’t agree; the band played on (self-actualising, belonging and self-esteem) as the Titanic sank (lack of physiological and safety needs).

I think a bar chart is a better way of thinking about it.

bar chart julie

So we all need different measure of the needs at different times.

So what does this mean for your school?

Well, schools  are of course made up of people; starting with you.  Try the following exercise:

  • Give yourself a mark out of 10 (where 10 is high) for how well each of your needs are being met. So if you are getting enough sleep, good food, warmth you might give yourself 10/10.
  • If you want to you could do it as a bar chart like the one above.

If you were to meet the person who made the chart above you might find they have a lovely house, car, lots of money and a secure job, but they are lonely and not feeling like they fit in, which has impacted on their self-esteem and their self-actualising.

Why do your needs matter to the school?  Well because if you aren’t feeling safe and secure, you might find it hard to self-actualise.

So what can you do?  Look at your lower marks and ask yourself what you need to do to improve them. So if you don’t feel like you belong to the team, then how can you build relationships at work and/or outside work?

How about doing the same with your team/staff/pupils? 

You could ask them to do the same rating scale exercise as you have just done and then you can ask them to think about how to meet their needs.  It’s a perfect team building exercise for staff or pupils. Even better if you get the team or class to share their ratings and work together to boost everyone’s needs.

Finally, I think it works for the organisation as a whole.  You and your staff can rate business needs out of 10.  Once you’ve got people to do this, than open up a discussion of why they have given those marks and get some really structured and clear feedback for your business’s development


Are physiological needs met? Are there enough toilets? Is the work temperature comfortable? Is food provided and is it the right kind?

Are safety needs met? Are there parking places?  Is there bullying?

Are belonging needs met? Do people have enough time to chat to colleagues? Do teachers have time to talk to pupils and pupils with each other? Are there social events? Do people feel supported and cared for?

Are self-esteem needs being met? Are people using their strengths? Are they in the right roles so they can shine? Do you celebrate success? Do you promote people? Do you offer pupils opportunities to stretch themselves in areas they are good at?

Are self-actualisation needs being met? Are people excelling? Are you pushing the boundaries of what is possible? Is the business breaking new ground? Are the staff and pupils allowed to initiate, take risks and create?

It’s important to bear in mind that it is rare to get straight tens all the time.  People, teams and schools are in constant ebb and flow and as they change, so do their needs.  There are times when thing are unsafe, when Ofsted is imminent and although there is nothing you can do about that, just naming and acknowledging how people are feeling can go a long way to building trust and understanding even if you can’t fix it.

Similarly, remember, we’re not just workers, we’re people, so if John’s wife is critically ill with last stage cancer, it is unlikely that he’ll be self-actualising for some time as his belonging and safety needs  are so strained.  If Sally is John’s daughter, then yes her GCSE grades might suffer as she worries about her mum.  By recognising this with John and Sally and naming it, you can support them so they have one less thing to worry about.

Central to all this is you.  I recommend a monthly check in with your own need chart to keep tabs on what you need to pay attention to, what needs support and what needs boosting.  If your needs are met you are in a much better position to meet the needs of your pupils, your school and your friends and family.

julie leoniDr Julie Leoni is an author, life coach and psychology teacher with over 25 years’ experience of training and facilitating groups. She has worked with organisations to develop Emotional Intelligence and has experience and training in bereavement, domestic abuse, mindfulness and meditation as well as a number of therapeutic approaches. She has 2 sons who she loves loads and who sometimes drive her crazy.

You can check out her blog, coaching, books and courses at www.lovebeingme.co.uk and download free information guides to how to spot domestic abuse and get support for people living with it at www.togetheragainstdomesticabuse.com