14/05/2017

What should I take to morning tea?

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Put the muffins down……

What is the last thing you took to morning tea?

When I go into schools and ask what opportunities staff have to debrief, connect and share stories with each other, more often than not, they say this happens at the weekly staff meetings. This is not only where information is shared but so is food.  Some people have time to cook but most of us just grab a packet of biscuits, muffins, donuts or some fruit. Now don’t get me wrong I like muffins, cakes and biscuits like anyone else, but lets think about the impact this is having on our wellbeing.

Wellbeing isn’t developed with one off actions but small healthy habits that are repeated daily. If we want to support teacher wellbeing lets start with some basics…… nutrition and exercise.

Before you roll your eyes at me, think about how much energy you exert in a day or week. Now think about how you place this energy? Just like fuel in a car, if we put junk in it, it may run, but it will be sluggish. Now I’m not advocating that we be extreme and cut all the good stuff out, I’m just asking you to more mindful of the health decisions you are making with food and exercise, and think about what opportunities you have at your school to support healthy habits for teachers.

This is important because teacher stress is high, and stress can often lead to poor health decisions. These decisions only exacerbate the problem of poor teacher wellbeing. Teacher wellbeing means providing opportunities for teachers to choose healthy habits that are repeated daily. This could include a morning yoga class, meditations or simple stretching in staff meetings and healthy food options. Below are some online tools to help you build healthier habits at your school.

1. Fitbit – Did you know you can create a faculty or school challenge where people can compare themselves weekly or monthly? When we have a community of people around us we are more likely to maintain healthy habits. Of course there are many other varieties of fitness trackers out there, it doesn’t matter which one you choose, any version is a great motivator.

2. MyFitnessPal – This is another great app. What I love about this is it’s not about measuring calories, it encourages you to be mindful of what you are eating and it can map your energy in and energy out.

2. 28 by Sam Wood – This is a great online program where Sam takes you through 28 minutes of exercise every day (great variety too), and also offers great, simple and tasty recipes. It costs money but much cheaper than a gym, and it doesn’t really on the PE faculty having to come in a take a morning class, you can just put Sam up on the a smart board and staff can choose to join in or not.

3. Sarah Wilson I Quit Sugar Recipes – Did you know sugar is now known to be one of the biggest reasons for excess weight, yet we as teachers will often have sugar on our desk, in the staffroom and at morning tea. I you havnet seen “That Sugar Film” I highly recommend it. In the mean time here are some simple and easy no-sugar recipes.

3. Yoga.com – There are many great yoga apps for you to try. You can choose 10min or 50min sessions. All trials are free and can operate through any IT devices. Perhaps you could start a weekly session at your school.

4. Mindfulness apps – You have probably all heard of Smiling Mind which I highly recommend but here are 5 other free apps that are popular.

I look forward to hearing what healthy habits you start implementing at your school.

Stay posted for more news and tips, remember to stay connected with us on Facebook page, Twitter, Linkedin and Instagram

31/03/2017

6 Principles for Building Teacher Wellbeing

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I recently had the pleasure of presenting at the PESA (Positive Education Schools Association), at Ravenswood School in Sydney. Over the two days I also had the privilege of listening and learning from leaders in the field such as Professor Lea Waters, Dr Suzy Green, Matthew White, Charlie Scudamore, & Felicia Huppert about what is happening to better support wellbeing in schools.

It was also a pleasant surprise to see and hear so many schools prioritizing teacher wellbeing. We know the research tells us that effective change in schools begins with teacher training and that teachers are the person who have the greatest impact in the classroom, but often schools are unsure as to HOW TO better support teacher wellbeing.

As a result, I thought I would give you the 6 Principles for Building Teacher Wellbeing that i shared with schools from across Australia in the workshop I ran.
The thing to keep in mind is that teacher wellbeing is not a program you buy and put in your schools, it comes from creating opportunities for teachers to form positive habits that are repeated over and over. Imagine for a moment you wanted to improve physical wellbeing….. you don’t get fit by going to the gym once, you have to take action over and over including planning ways to overcome barriers, motivation, interest and more. Even then physical wellbeing is not something that stays the same, we have to continually review, reflect, modify and assess where we are at be aware of the small decisions we make each day that may impact our desired goal. Psychological wellbeing is much the same where we need opportunities to learn, access and practice wellbeing initiatives on a regular basis – we need to build positive wellbeing habits.

These 6 principles to build teacher wellbeing lie at the foundation for you to consider when planning initiatives to support teacher wellbeing at your school.

  1. Understand the nature of wellbeing – it isn’t static or something you achieve, it is something you manage moment to moment along a continuum of emotions. It requires awareness of emotions and the decisions we make to manage these emotions.
  2. Acknowledge the challenges of teaching – teaching is tough and sometimes the rewards do not match the challenges. We need to allow time and space for debriefing with a ‘recreational whinge’, but we must not live there, we must express it and move it.
  3. Encourage social & emotional development – Teacher training is very good at giving us skills in planning, assessing and reporting yet falls short in preparing us with skills to better understand and manage the social and emotional energy we use on a daily basis. Staff training must incorporate personal development as much as it does professional development
  4. Track and celebrate the good stuff – Teachers will often tell you they feel undervalued and under-appreciated yet teachers are not very good at receiving positive feedback when it is given. We tend to shrug off positive feedback as ‘cheesy’ or not necessary, yet in order for us to feel valued and appreciated we need to track the good stuff and notice the small successes along the way. We need to acknowledge and recognise the differences we are making and legacy we are leaving with our students..
  5. Give effective feedback to colleagues – We learn many skills in  how to give effective feedback to students to improve learning, but what training do we have in giving feedback to staff about performance? Carol Dwecks work on growth mindset says we must praise both effort and process when giving feedback and John Hattie says teacher mindset is everything. Put these two things together and we need to be providing teachers with opportunities to share feedback with others that recognises the effort and processes teachers use to make learning happen. We need to go beyond just saying ‘thankyou’ and be more specific about what exactly we are thanking.
  6. Remind people of purpose & meaning – Teaching can be a thankless job at times and with growing demands and admin, it can be easy to forget why we are here and what we love about our jobs. Most of us enter teaching as a calling, so to keep this alive, practicing mindful moments can help us to reconnect to our purpose and savour the teachable moments where we see students shine.

Stay posted for more news and tips, remember to stay connected with us on Facebook page, Twitter, Linkedin and Instagram

The Wellbeing of Teachers is in crisis

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teacher stress banner 2

More and more research continues to show that teachers are struggling. We are tired of the meetings, tired of the paperwork and tired of the accountability measures that take time away from planning engaging lessons. Whether this be beginning teachers, experienced teachers or school executive, we are in crisis.

As  a teacher and speaking to teachers across Australia, teaching has changed. People who I know are outstanding teachers are on stress leave because they have been depleted of their own inner resources. Pre-service teachers who I send on prac come back with stories of teachers falling a sleep in class, disengaged and cranky. This is not a criticism of teachers but an indication that good teachers are simply giving up.

The research is clear, teacher wellbeing is in crisis – see the statistics for yourself

So, now what?

Crisis is an opportunity for change, an opportunity to do it differently, an opportunity to stop doing what we have always done and practice new habits and routines. This means the once-a-year school BBQ is out, and weekly mindfulness in staff meetings is in. It means the one-hour staff training in wellbeing is out and coaching and mentoring is in. It means supporting staff on an individual level, faculty level and whole school level. It means using evidence to inform decisions and being just as strategic with teacher wellbeing as we are with students wellbeing. It means developing scope and sequences, reflecting on what is working and giving people both the time and skills to make lasting, positive change.

To put this another way, we know we don’t improve fitness by going to the gym once and then reading a book about it. We have to actually form new habits, no matter how small, and repeat them often. We may need a trainer to help us get started, we may need people around us to make it fun and we need to acknowledge there will be good days and bad days. The same goes for wellbeing of our teachers. We need policies and procedures that encourage new habits, that support new routines and allow for people to have new connections and conversations that promote a culture of support, strength and recognition. We are too hard on ourselves and too hard on each other.

Its time to turn crisis into an opportunity.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Daniela Falecki

Director of Teacher Wellbeing

20/01/2017

What to include in a Teacher Wellbeing Policy

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Why teachers need to PLAY more

 
We know play is important for students to learn, that play inspires creativity, and play helps build positive emotions, so can teachers play too?

The increasing demands on teachers often leave us feeling tired, stressed and exhausted, yet there is another way. Evidence from Positive Psychology is showing us how both student and staff wellbeing can be supported with some simple strategies. The research suggests that it doesn’t matter where you start as long as you take some form of positive action. Just as we ask students to be open and curious to learning, so to must we as teachers. Wellbeing is not just the responsibility of the individual, but the organisation as well. Teacher wellbeing is more than the one-off morning tea or afternoon drinks. We must be more strategic and apply the same evidence based principles to teacher wellbeing as we do with student wellbeing programs.

When planning your teacher wellbeing policy, consider the following four steps to PLAY;

P LAN VARIETY – Just as we cater for diversity with students, we must plan opportunities for staff wellbeing that cater for different personalities, interests and needs. Eg, Mindful moments, gratitude jars, strengths spotting, walking meditations are all options for people to choose not, not compulsory activities.

L AUGH & LEARN – Encourage staff to be open and curious by providing opportunities to share new conversations. Highlight learnings and celebrate achievements in meaningful and engaging meetings.

A CTION HABITS – Policies and procedures must encourage new habits that are acted upon regularly. Positive actions must become embedded into the routines of the school day. Just as we don’t get fit by going to the gym once, we must encourage repeated small actions in weekly or daily habits.

Y OUR BEST FIT – Everyone has their own unique strengths and will feel connected to different activities. Allow people to choose activities that are a best fit for them. Give people options eg creative pursuits, movement activities, or readings, videos & TED talks in staff bulletins.

PLAY Teacher Wellbeing
We all teach because we care and we all need to support each other to be the best we can in our roles.

I hope you find this helpful, remember to stay connected with us on Facebook page, Twitter, Linkedin and Instagram

 

Daniela Falecki
www.teacher-wellbeing.com.au

Play is the highest form of research-

03/01/2017

The 3 most powerful questions to ask when setting new year intentions

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It’s 2017……. Now what???
It’s that time of year where we think about the year that has passed and begin to plan for how we would like the next year to be. People often talk about setting New Years Resolutions but in order to do so we must ask ourselves meaningful questions if we are to truly access all our available inner resources.

When setting intentions for the coming year, people typically want to lose weight, get fitter, be more mindful, be able to better manage stress and promise themselves not to take it all too seriously. Yet, before you know it, the work is stacking up, the to-do lists form, and all of a sudden you feel like you are back on the rat wheel, doing what you have always done.

To better support yourself in holding firm to your intentions,we need to tap into our emotions not our head. From our emotions come our habits and from our habits come our patterns in behaviour. To set more powerful intentions for 2017, begin by asking yourself these 3 questions;

1. How would you like to feel in 2017?

2. What experiences would you like to have in 2017?

3. What would make your heart sing in 2017?

When answering these questions, use all your senses to paint a picture of what it might look like, hear the sounds, the voices and the environment, consider the actions taking place and sensations in your heard and heart. When we explore all of our senses we are using the principles of neuroscience to build stronger intentions and stronger drivers towards action.

Once you have written your answers for these 3 questions, review them to see any common themes or words that come up….. these few words can become your GOAL, INTENTION and DRIVER for 2017.

For me, I want to feel connected to others, I want to experience positive relationships with colleagues and what makes my heart sing is seeing people using and benefiting from resources and tools I provide.

In a nutshell, my intention for 2017 is to;

 “FORM POSITIVE CONNECTIONS WITH OTHERS”

Have fun setting your intentions, feel free to share them on our Facebook page.

 

Daniela Falecki
www.teacher-wellbeing.com.au

07/12/2016

7 Stress busting tips of great teachers

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Great teachers give and great teachers care…. They also know how to give and care for themselves too.

Whether you have finished for the year or about to finish soon, here are some simple but effective tips for making it through to the end of the year;

11/11/2016

Kindness resources for you and your classroom

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04/11/2016

Great Growth Mindset resources for the classroom

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How can we motivate students to learn?

30/09/2016

Insights from the National Positive Psychology Conference Sept 2016

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I have recently just returned from the National Positive Psychology Conference, held by South Australia Health and Medical Research Institute (SAHMRI), and my head is spinning with exciting research, resources and insights to share.

Apart from feeling very privileged to run a workshop on Teacher Wellbeing, it was wonderful to hear leaders in the field urge schools to prioritize teacher wellbeing as a way of supporting student wellbeing, resilience and academic achievement. Through regular and high quality professional development that allows teachers to learn and live positive psychology, we build a more sustainable work force. Some of  insights from the conference include;

  • Felicia Huppert sharing the 5 ways to wellbeing, were mindfulness research continues to show huge benefits and compassion becomes central to wellbeing.
  • Lea Waters spoke about strengths and how parents and teachers play an important role in teaching self acceptance and kindness based on understanding and using these strengths
  • Sue Langley explained how the brain learns and changes habits through emotion
  • Charlie Scudamore (Deputy Principal Geelong Grammar) shared his reflection of what has worked and what hasn’t in Positive Education highlighting the importance of leadership in any change process.
  • A school case study from The Hamilton & Alexandra College based on the 5 Domains of Positive Functioning. Here teachers shared how to develop cross curriculum positive education activities that explicitly teach wellbeing.

I am looking forward to incorporating these insights and more in upcoming workshops – checkout the date below. As for whole staff PD, I still have a few days free in December and 2017 is filling up fast.

Stay connected and join our Facebook page, This is where I share the latest insights, resources, tips and tools in wellbeing. If you have some useful resources or an inspiring story you would like to share, let us know at our Teacher Wellbeing page

Daniela Falecki
www.teacher-wellbeing.com.au

05/08/2016

The Science behind PERMA & classroom strategies

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The Science of wellbeing….

It’s not warm & fuzzy, but evidence-based and scientific. Check out the science then download the free strategies.

Positive psychology is known as the science of wellbeing and draws on decades of research from many other forms of psychology. Martin Seligman is one person who is leading the way with his revamped definition of wellbeing to move beyond happiness to a place of life satisfaction and flourishing.

To best describe how people can reach a flourishing state he describes 5 pillars that we must consciously addressed known as the PERMA Model.  This involves planning ways to support the five domains that encompass: positive emotion (P), engagement (E), relationships (R), meaning (M), and accomplishment (A).

Positive Emotion
Positive emotions include feelings of joy, love, gratitude, hope and optimism. These emotions have been linked to wellbeing where “those who experience a preponderance of positive emotions—tend to be successful and accomplished across multiple life domains” (Lyubomirsky, King, & Diener, 2005, p. 801).  This means that when all is going well in a persons life, they have the capacity to expand their resources to build on existing skills for future use or rest and restore their energy (Barbara L. Fredrickson, 2001).

Engagement
Being engaged in the experiences of our own life occurs when we become absorbed in activities that meet a unique balance between our interests and curiosity. Csikszentmihalyi uses flow theory to describe the process of engagement as being one where we are challenged in terms of our skills yet feel a sense of mastery and competence (Csikszentmihalyi, 1996). Another strategy that teachers can use to enhance engagement is through identifying and using character strengths. In essence, strengths are internal  “patterns of thought, feeling and behaviour that are energising and which lead to maximal effectiveness” (Linley & Harrington, 2006, p. 6). Character on the other hand, is typically discussed as a prescriptive approach where an external construct needs to be learned or embodied by individuals (Linkins, Niemiec, Gillham, & Mayerson, 2015). After extensive research across history, cultures and religions, Professors Chris Peterson and Martin Seligman merged these two forms of thought and suggested character resides within us. While we embody all 24 character strengths, it is our top five character strengths that more closely align with our intrinsic values and interest and are known as our signature strengths (Linley & Harrington, 2006). When signature strengths are consciously applied in everyday life, a direct increase occurs in life satisfaction, wellbeing and meaning (Wood, Linley, Maltby, Kashdan, & Hurling, 2011).

Relationships
Positive relationships are central to developing sound social and emotional skills that lie at the core of our internal resources. In fact positive psychology is often quoted by Chris Peterson as being about ‘other people’. Fredrickson also states that flourishing is a combination of subjective wellbeing, psychological wellbeing and social wellbeing (Barbara L Fredrickson, 2006), highlighting the significance of relationships in supporting wellbeing.

Meaning
When people feel a sense of purpose or meaning, research suggests they feel connected to something larger than themselves and therefore feel as though what they are doing has value (Kern et al., 2014). This has a direct link to eudaimonia, the term Aristotle coined to describe  that which makes life worth living (Lambert et al., 2015). In order to make life meaningful, one has to apply effort and take action. This effort may not necessary generate positive emotions at first, however, with continued effort and measured successes along the way, may result in  greater life satisfaction and positive affect in the long term (Lambert et al., 2015).

Achievement
Accomplishment refers to the application of a personal skills and effort as a person moves towards a desired goal. This requires both motivation and persistence in an attempt to overcome possible challenges whilst having enough insight to remain flexible along the path to achievement.  Setting clear goals and planning realistic and strategic ways in which to achieve these goals is foundational to the learning process. This also involves celebrating achievements as a way to increase positive affect as well as help the learner cope with disappointments as a way to build a growth mindset and resilience.

Want to know what this looks like in a school? Checkout this video from Mount Barker High where students explain PERMA

Now you have science, now here are the strategies – Simply click on the picture to get your list of strategies

  Click on the picture to download your FREE resource