Blog by Lisa Fathers, Director of Teaching School & Partnerships
Love is about social connection, kindness, empathy and as we celebrate Valentine’s Day we reflect on how we can facilitate those things at school level and across the TSA.
Schools are challenging, busy places and day after day teachers are giving everything to the school they work in. Every class or form is different – whether that’s personalities, different behaviour, varied learning needs, individual targets and differentiated schemes of work.
While teachers are putting so much care and empathy into their day job, a bit of ‘self-love’ is often the last thing on the agenda. Working too hard and striving for perfection often has the opposite effect. Being hard on ourselves is often a result of trying to do everything right, all the time, and we are much more critical of ourselves, than we would be to our colleagues, family or friends. If we can learn to hear our inner voice and replace it with a more compassionate one, then we will also learn how to become more resilient in the face of adversity. Putting our own oxygen mask on first, before we can look after and nurture others is so important.
It is love that gives someone a sense that they are valuable and with that comes self-esteem. At BFET we believe that children should receive the highest quality experiences and teaching to equip them for life and their next steps in education, training and employment. This belief is underpinned by our values of passion, community and integrity, two of which you could argue are strongly intertwined with the concept of love. As school leaders we should aim for a supportive culture, placing staff wellbeing at the heart of decisions. Fostering a whole-school approach to supporting kindness and compassion, where everyone feels welcome, socially connected, cares for one another and shows empathy, can help individuals achieve their potential and do amazing things. It gives courage and confidence.
At the ‘Alliance for Learning SCITT’ ( School Centered Initial Teacher Training) we not only ensure all our trainees complete MHFA (Mental Health First Aid) and we deliver this to lots of other ITT providers too because fundamentally we believe it is as crucial for our new teachers, as learning classroom management techniques.
With our GM Mentally Healthy Schools and Colleges Programme in partnership with Youth Sport Trust, Place 2Be, 42nd Street and of course driven by Greater Manchester Health and Social Care Partnership, we have been encouraging staff to talk openly about and celebrate mental health and wellbeing every single week. To date, more than 230 school staff have attended the 2-day MHFA training and over 200 have completed the half-day session since the programme’s inception, helping them to spot signs of poor mental health and guide individuals towards the help they need.
One individual giving feedback on the course described it as: “Powerful and informative. Made me look at my own mental health issues, giving me strategies to not only help the young children in my care but myself too.”
Essentially, leaders lead well, teachers teach best and learners learn best when all feel supported and wanted within their school.
ON VALENTINES DAY WE URGE YOU TO CHOOSE LOVE AND LEAD WITH COMPASSION.