Any passionate Headteacher wants to ensure that they are empowering their staff to be able to look after their mental and physical wellbeing and be able to teach happily. What practical measures can you take to create a positive school environment? Here is a guide to how you can help your teachers #TeachHappy, with advice from HeadTeachers and leadership specialists.
Building a community
A school is a team who are working together to achieve the same goal, educating and developing young people so they can leave education as well rounded individuals, ready to go out into the big wide world. A particular climate needs to be built in a school in order for this to happen. Teachers need to be able to teach happy, in order to teach effectively. Being able to focus on the work and students is paramount. Creating an environment where your staff is surrounded by other great teachers is a good way to start to develop a strong support system.
Teachers will also be a pillar of strength for you too, with a senior leadership team and reliable staff, you don’t need to carry the weight of the pressures of being head teacher alone. Creating an environment where everyone understands their role and what is expected of them will lead to a healthy school community. Build relationships with your staff, parents, and pupils and other stakeholders such as the local community, as your visibility as a leader is crucial.
Being visible daily to both staff and students is important as your presence as the school’s leader shows that you genuinely care and that you’re deeply involved in school life. Make yourself visible to pupils on the playgrounds and yards during break and lunch, and get involved in maintaining school standards including behaviour management. Be visible to the parents at the school gates, and generally be hands on in the daily goings on of your school.
One of the most important things to do is to build connections with your staff, including leaving good impressions on supply teachers so they are keen to return to your school. Visiting classrooms is a way of taking time for your individual teachers, but ensure you establish a balance of trust with your teachers first so they don’t feel like you’re checking up on them.
No judgement policy
A no judgement policy is a great way to show that you value open and honest communication with school staff. This can be achieved through having an open door culture, encouraging your teachers to talk about any issues with a real accessibility to you as the headteacher. When you build relationships with your staff, you can manage the expectations of your time to also encourage people to go to their line managers. It is important to make sure you are available to support when there are problems that you need to address.
According to a “Successful School Leadership” report published by UK-based Education Development Trust, “Effective headteachers provide a clear vision and sense of direction for the school. They prioritize. They focus the attention of staff on what is important and do not let them get diverted and sidetracked with initiatives that will have little impact on the work of the students.”
Teachers are a school’s greatest resource and should be treated as a priority of your attention. They have to be in a position where they are fully present in the moment, while they are educating. Afterall, the most important activity that takes place in a school is teaching and learning. The moment that a teacher is not present in the classroom because they are distracted, (due to a personal or professional worry, stress, anxiety) or if they are unable to circulate the classroom effectively because they have bad back, knee, ankle, then the quality of teaching and learning has become eroded. We believe that the duty of care of a school is to occupy a proactive and preventative space to ensure that preventative absences are reduced. Think about the things you can do in your school to prevent situations like this and help your teachers teach happy.
Acting as a role model will come naturally to teachers, and when you become the school leader you must set the standard. You decide on the professional standards through leading by example. A few of the best attributes teachers like to see in a headteacher are integrity, hard work and honesty. If you work and live with these values in mind, you will see it reflected in your school team.
Quotes from HeadTeachers
Head Teacher and Leadership consultant David from Nautilus Education advises:
“Know your limitations as the head teacher. You cannot be responsible for the happiness of others. But if you can prioritise recognition, then the happiness will take care of itself.”David Rushby
HeadTeacher and author Rae Snape has invited teacher and author Adrian Bethune lead on their CPD. Rae answered how to create a happy school environment by sharing:
“Inviting @AdrianBethune to lead our CPD means that we have a Whole School approach to #TeachHappy”Rae Snape
Executive HeadTeacher Patrick Ottley- O’connor said he helps teachers within his school teach happy by creating a culture of care he explains:
“We encourage, engage & empower all staff to see & own their own mental health & wellbeing as a priority…with no excuses or exceptions! By creating this culture of care, colleagues are well placed to start teaching happy & importantly sustain it throughout the year.”Patrick Ottley – O’connor
“My advice for Headteachers for teachers teaching happy: be clear on the articulation of the school’s vision, mission and values so that teachers can ensure they are values-aligned with their employer; be honest – if it is a tough school to work in, tell people that and don’t try to sugarcoat it; be transparent with expectations and trust the professionalism of your staff – no-one is happy when they are micromanaged.”Hannah Wilson
We hope that this blog has helped you gain some ideas in how to help your teachers #TeachHappy. What advice do you have for headteachers to have a fresh start in September? Let us know on Facebook or Twitter!