It’s that time again. How many people have set themselves impossible New Year Resolutions this year? And how many people have already failed to keep their resolutions?
Learning & Wellbeing Psychology have been thinking about school staff wellbeing this month, asking the question, what are the steps to success when it comes to New Year Resolutions?
1) Build on what’s already working
For some reason, when the New Year comes, we suddenly think we will wake up on 1st January a
completely changed person. Having never stepped foot in a gym, we convince ourselves that we’ll be competing in the Ironman Challenge by July. Rather than setting yourself a brand new teaching challenge, think about what’s already working in your classroom and build on that. If you already have a sensory den in your classroom, invest in a couple of new items to spruce up this area. If you use movement breaks in your lesson, why not have a go at The Daily Mile? Building on what’s already working can boost motivation and is likely to lead to greater success in the long run.
2) Doing something badly is better than not doing it at all
This might sound a little counter-productive, but often the barrier we encounter when trying to motivate ourselves to do something is the thought that it won’t be good enough. The likelihood is that you’ve come across this many times in the classroom – where a child will say they can’t do something because they’re worried about making a mistake. This continues into adulthood and is a cycle we need to break! This is certainly the case for building relationships with children. Where a child is demonstrating behaviours that suggest they may need some extra adult attention, spending just 2 minutes checking in with them on a busy day when there’s no time for a full intervention is far better than not checking in with them at all. Doing rapid recall times tables when you have a minute to spare before the lunch bell is much better than waiting until a day when you can spend a full half hour on it (realistically, is that day ever going to come?).
3) Keep expectations realistic
There is nothing more disheartening than the realisation that you will never achieve your goal. Sometimes we set ourselves challenges and don’t realise until we’re attempting to complete them that they are totally unrealistic. However, adapting our aims can often feel like cheating or giving up. Change that narrative! Take a similar approach to Precision Teaching – if a goal is unachievable, make small changes to experience success. Again, this will increase your motivation and mean you are far more likely to keep up with those New Year Resolutions!
4) Recruit others
Making changes on your own can be hard work. The great thing about school is that they’re communities – you should never feel like you’re working in isolation. So why not recruit a colleague to join you in your New Year Resolution? Working together doesn’t have to mean taking on the same challenge – it might be that they check in with you at the end of the day to hold you accountable for the thing you’re determined to do that day. Or perhaps they can help problem-solve around how to adjust your daily routine in line with the changes you’d like to implement.
5) Be kind to yourself
Positive change starts at home. Whilst you might be setting your sights on ‘Teacher of the Year’, don’t forget that before you are available to help your students, you must first make sure you’re helping yourself. We talk often about the oxygen mask analogy – that on a plane, you are always instructed to put your own oxygen mask on before helping anyone else. This is much the same when it comes to school practice. Regardless of what your New Year Resolution might be, take a minute to consider one thing you can do regularly to make sure that you’re prioritising your own wellbeing. This could be something as simple as a takeaway on a Friday night, an essential oils bubble bath midweek or a 3 minute mindfulness breathing space at the end of lunchtime.
We are passionate about supporting children and young people through their schools and communities. One way of doing this is through understanding and implementing the Five Essential Elements of Trauma Intervention. Our school staff self-care course also focuses on the Five Essential Elements of Trauma intervention, providing on demand learning content that can be accessed at your own pace.