100 School Wellbeing Tips

Effective leaders know the importance of wellbeing and teachers with a strong sense of self-efficacy. Happy and motivated teachers may make pupils feel happier, motivated and more confident.

Teachers want to feel appreciated, respected, empowered and valued. When leaders take the time to communicate, care and look after their staff this promotes a culture of wellness and emotional security.

How teachers feel on an everyday basis is likely to affect their performance (Briner and Dewberry, 2007). Teachers therefore need to be fuelled every day and nourished with morale boosters and wellbeing top-ups and tips so they say “Thank Goodness It’s Today” rather than ploughing through to the end of the week with a chorus of “Thanks Goodness It’s Friday.”

Here are a few options to consider in fostering a healthy school with esprit de corp. Most are easy, fast, cheap and fun and value staff not just as human resources but as people:

  1. Invest in staff development and provide inset training on wellbeing so that teachers know how to manage themselves and avoid burnout and build up a professional toolkit of strategies, ideas and contacts.
  2. Assess staff engagement and find out how staff feel about school by getting them to complete the Positive Workplace Survey offered by the Education Support Partnership.
  3. Have a robust Health and Wellbeing Policy and keep regularly reviewing it with staff.
  4. Avoid toxicity and energy hoovers getting a foothold by introducing a ‘No Negativity Policy’.
  5. Provide mental first aid training for key members of staff to help colleagues.
  6. Organise ongoing wellbeing mentoring programmes.
  7. Encourage staff to ask for help when they need it and take advantage of what is on offer. Discourage a culture of keeping things to yourself.
  8. Have a wellness committee that promote health and wellbeing information, research, nutrition, recipes, workshops, music, videos, books and ways to feel better, Dedicate a board in the staffroom for wellbeing tips, advice and ideas.
  9. Put on a Wellness Fair and Welling MOT day for staff using partnerships and community connections to assess wellbeing, e.g. plan opportunities for blood pressure tests, flu jabs and other screening opportunities. Partner with a massage therapist to come with a massage chair.
  10. Get staff to plan and manage wellbeing goals promising to do three things they write on a postcard and hold themselves accountable for.
  11. Have a wellbeing nomination box for staff to suggest a colleague they think deserves a shout out because they have done something to help others, e.g. by doing someone’s break duty.
  12. Have in-house health events and activities, e.g. yoga, Zumba, etc
  13. Organise for staff to visit other schools and share good practices. Make reciprocal arrangements and foster cross-school wellbeing partnerships.
  14. Pay for membership fees to professional organisations to show staff and invest in their CPD.
  15. Build a CPD library to include resources on self-care and self-help.
  16. Create a welcome pack for new starters to familiarise them with the school.
  17. Discourage presenteeism and a ‘soldiering on’ attitude and culture. If staff need to be off work then tell them they need to go home if they are unwell.
  18. Put a cap on discretionary effort so that staff aren’t going extra miles and burning out. 50 hours a week is enough.
  19. Be vigilant of staff with PEGS: Pedagogue Expressing Guilt Syndrome and those who feel like they aren’t doing enough or could do better.
  20. Keep wellbeing in check by letting staff feel comfortable saying ‘No’ to taking on and doing too much. Respect personal limits.
  21. Teach staff the Finnish concept of ‘Sisu’ and how to overcome adversity and unstuck themselves through inner strength.
  22. Encourage staff to use a gratitude journal and a ‘yellow folder of why’.
  23. Discourage sending and receiving emails after a certain time of the day – have a cut-off point and respect people’s private lives.
  24. Rethink Parents’ Evenings and allow greater flexibility such as communicating digitally, holding pupil review days and seeing parents in the day rather than 30 people over two nights.
  25. Encourage staff not to take work home. If they must, then only a portion of it.
  26. Trust staff to do their job and reduce unnecessary workload and death by meetings.
  27. Forget lesson plans and don’t insist that staff have to write them.
  28. Develop a lesson sharing system.
  29. Have a policy for feedback, not for marking.
  30. Make sure that there is no tick box culture.
  31. Remind staff that they are not expected to differentiate 30 different ways – teach for the top.
  32. Promote tidy and clutter-free classrooms that are also calm learning spaces.
  33. Don’t ask staff to enter data twice.
  34. Leverage technology and buy into software and systems that ease workload.
  35. Hold walking meetings or meetings outside and off-site to change perspectives and outlooks. Nature nurtures.
  36. Have a “hat’s off to…” session in meetings where colleagues can congratulate each other for accomplishments.
  37. Train staff to ‘hug the monster’, learn from mistakes and develop more resilience.
  38. Teach staff how to ‘eat the frog’ and do the ugly things first.
  39. Help staff to manage their energy and find outside interests to fill their well.
  40. Encourage staff to be time-stealers and share tips.
  41. Encourage staff to work as a team and steal killer ideas from each other and share golden nuggets. Have a ‘Beg, Borrow and Steal’ notice board in the staffroom to share ideas.
  42. Encourage staff to do fewer things better, forget the fluff and focus on what matters most along with a “what gets done, gets done, what doesn’t, doesn’t” attitude.
  43. Encourage the use of to-do lists to help staff free their minds of worries and help them to ensure important tasks don’t fall through the cracks.
  44. Encourage staff to limit their social media use and not get drawn into unprofessional exchanges on Twitter etc.
  45. Take out an advert in a local paper celebrating the expertise of your staff.
  46. Develop positive relationships with local media and sing the praises of staff and their classes.
  47. Produce a yearly staff manual that lists fun facts about staff, their interests, expectations, mottoes, beliefs, years of service etc.
  48. Have a ‘Caught You Being Amazing’ board to acknowledge the efforts of individual teachers or a team. Write what it is you noticed and include photos too.
  49. In your staff room include motivational quotes, thoughts for the day, joke of the day, word of the day which can cheer people up and improve their day.
  50. Start a breakfast club for early-starters.
  51. Make sure there is free tea, coffee and sugar in the staffroom.
  52. Design coffee mugs with the school logo and the staff member’s name.
  53. Encourage children and parents to ‘Thank A Teacher’ through the send a card campaign. Every “thank you”, then becomes a nomination for a Pearson Teaching Award.
  54. Regularly praise staff and make them feel special. People like to be recognised for their skills and abilities, for adding value to their work and doing something well.
  55. Be flexible and let teachers teach in a way that suits their learners.
  56. Avoid classroom interruptions and be sensitive to the flow of learning.
  57. Get staff active and encourage on-site and off-site exercise. Partner with a local gym or spa.
  58. Let staff press pause and get some headspace by promoting meditation and mindfulness. Invite an expert in to share what to do.
  59. Allow a special planning day for each staff member and provide supply for the day.
  60. Encourage flexible working hours.
  61. Encourage all staff to take a break in the day to decompress and offload with a colleague.
  62. Stop using the word busy as this can feed a culture of all humble bragging and create more pressure.
  63. Encourage staff to single-task rather than multitask so they aren’t overwhelmed.
  64. Get staff to identify their burnout triggers.
  65. Share the 80/20 rule and encourage staff to work out what has the most impact so they can work more efficiently.
  66. ‘Look for hyacinths’ and provide staff with opportunities to share their passions and personal interests with each other via a workshop.
  67. Make birthdays meaningful – keep a record of staff birthdays and make them feel special. Buy a card for staff to sign and make a bit of fuss. Cake and a present optional.
  68. Have anniversary parties to recognise years of employment.
  69. Suggestions/Questions/Concerns – have a system for staff to air their thinking, ideas and any moans. Address any concerns or comments in meetings or face-to-face.
  70. Give the staffroom a makeover and ensure that it is a place to lounge, rest and a happy environment to be full of hygge.
  71. Include in the staffroom ‘What Would Make My Life Easier’ forms for staff to complete and post in your pigeon hole to share their needs.
  72. Remind staff to choose their battles carefully! Sometimes you don’t need the hassle.
  73. School leaders can give staff a break from break duty by stepping in and doing it for them.
  74. Have a pat-on-the-back notice board where staff successes and accomplishments can be broadcast and acknowledged.
  75. Hold a staff bake-off.
  76. Reward staff in unexpected ways at unexpected times.
  77. Hold an informal teacher of the week/month award ceremony to reward efforts and achievements.
  78. Hand-out positive-grams to thank staff members.
  79. Rename areas of your school after staff for a bit of fun e.g. The Mrs Johnson Corridor.
  80. Hold an off-site ‘whine and cheese’ party and get together after work so staff can let their r hair down and get any grumbles out of their system.
  81. Have a standing ovation during a staff meeting for a worthy staff member.
  82. Grant special discretionary leave for short periods of paid and/or unpaid leave in circumstances which are not covered by other provisions such as maternity and paternity leave, dependants leave, parental leave and bereavement leave.
  83. Reach out and call a staff member at home and tell them you appreciate them and discuss any concerns.
  84. Stick it to them by writing quick positive notes and placing them on a desk, book or cup.
  85. Plant trees in staff members names.
  86. Have a school pet to reduce stress and improve moods.
  87. Partner with local businesses to give staff a discount on purchases.
  88. Prepare occasional pot-luck lunches and hold a raffle of donated prizes.
  89. Order business cards with staff names on them.
  90. Encourage staff to chunk their day to avoid being snowed under.
  91. Make plans for a staff meal at a local restaurant, ten-pin bowling, crazy golf or a trip to the theatre.
  92. Have ‘Can’t Talk About School’ get-togethers. Anyone found talking shop must put £5 in a charity collection.
  93. Plan a staff retreat where you can spend a day team-building to reflect, learn, laugh and challenge, e.g. high ropes course, a ramble or mountain walk.
  94. Recognise any staff presenting at workshops or conferences.
  95. Create SOS wellbeing bags as a pick-me up filled with items such as chocolate, tea, a thank you card, pens, sticky notes, a book etc
  96. Encourage staff to replace emotional eating with healthy rewards and healthy rituals.
  97. Have secret wellbeing buddies who have the responsibility of looking after a colleague through treat-giving and support.
  98. Encourage random acts of kindness so that staff are always giving and thinking of others.
  99. Share nudge theory with staff so they understand how to make marginal gains and how they can develop their wellbeing a little here and a little there.
  100. Remind staff to laugh with their pupils and laugh at themselves and not treat life too seriously.

Schools can always do more to encourage, support and recognise the excellent performance and behaviours of its staff.

School leaders therefore need to offer a range of benefits which make the school stand out from others to attract new, and retain existing staff who can help achieve the school’s goals.

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