A message from us
We recognise the challenges of working in a school through the Coronavirus pandemic and appreciate the impact that Coronavirus may have on the mental health and wellbeing of staff, as well as pupils, especially when social contact with others is extremely limited.
We are very grateful for the commitment, dedication and hard work of staff throughout this time – both for those of you working directly with the pupils and also those of you working ‘behind the scenes’ in the admin, maintenance and other support teams. You have continued to put the children first and to ensure that we have been able to continue to provide an effective education for the children.
We are mindful that Coronavirus has been a challenge for us all and we recognise that some information about how to support mental health and wellbeing might be helpful for members of staff.
Support for Staff
The Senior Leadership Teams and the staff at Head Office are available to support staff if you have concerns. Sharon Hewitt, Claire Osborn and the Heads are all trained in mental health and wellbeing support. There are also other ‘mental health champions’ in each school who you can chat with.
Please do talk to one of us if you need to so that we can work together to help you to overcome the mental health and wellbeing challenges caused by Coronavirus.
Practical Tips when Working from Home
Choose a designated workspace
Just because you’re not working at your usual place doesn’t mean you can’t ‘go to work’. Rather than cooping yourself up in your bedroom or on the sofa – spaces that are associated with leisure time – perhaps dedicate a specific room or surface in your home for work and clear your work away when you finish to stop work taking over your home life.
Plan your day and follow a routine
Without a set timetable to break up your day, you can quickly lose focus. To stay on schedule, segment what you’ll do and when over the course of the day. Use your online calendar to create personal events and reminders that tell you when to shift gears and start on new tasks. Try to pepper your day with calls and online check ins so that you don’t feel lonely. Consider doing less enjoyable tasks first thing so that you can ‘reward’ yourself with the tasks you enjoy later on in the day.
Make it harder to waste time on social media
Social media is designed to draw you in and keep you browsing. To counteract your social networks’ ease of use during work hours, if you are using your family computer or iPad consider moving your favourite apps into a folder so that they are out of site and perhaps disabling notifications during working hours.
Prioritise: write a ‘To Do’ List
Using a daily or weekly ‘To Do’ list can really help with self-motivation. Use your list to sum up the day you’ve decided you’d like to have tomorrow. Take ten minutes before you stop work every day to make the next day’s list – give yourself something to be excited about or that you can look forward to completing each day. Prioritise no more than three biggish tasks, and don’t be afraid to have a secondary list on a different page with things that need to be done, but not necessarily tomorrow.
Avoiding isolation – Have daily catch-ups
It’s easy to get through the day without speaking to anyone, but as social animals we all need a regular amount of human contact. Arrange a telephone or video catch-up with your team, perhaps at the same time every day. It sets a habit of talking to others and will invigorate you. Make sure there’s time at the beginning of the call to just chat about non-work matters, to keep our friendly connections strong.
Pay attention to your ‘lark or owl’ preferences
Some people are larks and feel most energised first thing in the morning, while others are owls and don’t come alive till later in the day. Although we are all expected to make ourselves available during working hours in case our pupils, parents or work colleagues need us, working at home can provide you with the flexibility to start work before breakfast and finish earlier, for instance. Or you might prefer to do more work in the evening when you feel at your best.
Avoid multitasking and stay focused
It’s easy to start one project and then bounce to another without finishing the first. Discipline yourself to focus, stay on task and accomplish a certain number of tasks every day. Some days you will be more productive than others, but overall, you might find you are more productive than you used to be.
Working whilst your own children are at home
This may be a challenge! Set goals for your children to keep them occupied. Children like routines, have a timetable of activities that give slots for schoolwork (while you do your work), lunch, helping with chores, outside playtime and maybe time for educational apps (again, while you work). Factor in a post-lunch quiet time where you can get some work tasks done while they relax with a nap, book or the TV. Don’t forget to get some fresh air together when you can, as this will help to lift your mood and help you feel less closed in.
Maintain a healthy lifestyle
Working at home tends to lend itself to a sedentary lifestyle, not to mention the close proximity of the kitchen and refrigerator, making weight gain a problem for many homeworkers. Make sure to schedule time for regular exercise, keep healthy snacks around the house and remember to drink a lot of water.
Take regular breaks
Try to allow yourself time to get up from the computer to stretch. This will really help you both physically and mentally, and if you take breaks you’ll be more productive. You could even set an alarm if you think you might need reminding to take a break!
Depending on the lockdown restrictions, it is important to move about outside and get some fresh air. Energy levels dip after lengthy periods of time sat at a computer, so get into the habit of going outside at least once a day. Open a window to get some fresh air in while you work, and when you are outside when it’s sunny, you may be restoring some of your vitamin D!
Share any concerns
Most new experiences feel uncomfortable at first, until you have established a routine. Let your line manager, an SLT member or your head know if you are feeling overwhelmed. Share some of the positives you experience with your colleagues to see what you can learn from each other.
Podcast of the Month
Happier with Power Hourby Studio71 UK & Adrienne Herbert
What could you do, if you dedicated just one hour each day to improving yourself and your life? Could getting up one hour earlier each day be the key to unlocking your full potential?
Power Hour is a weekly podcast that will motivate you to pursue your passion and to achieve success. Join host Adrienne Herbert as she speaks to today’s leading coaches, creatives, change makers and innovators; finding out about their morning routines, daily habits, and rules to live by.
Blog post of the Month
The Mental Health Benefits of Exercise
by Joe Wicks
|How do you feel after a workout? Even when you’re purple faced and desperate for a lie-down, you feel pretty pleased with yourself for giving it a go, right? Once the initial breathlessness subsides after a workout, it’s common to feel like you have more energy and those troublesome problems might not seem quite so big as before. While they might seem intangible these benefits are as real as – and arguably more important than – the results you see around your waistline.|
Book of the Month
The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse
By Charlie Mackesy
Charlie Mackesy offers inspiration and hope in uncertain times in this beautiful book, following the tale of a curious boy, a greedy mole, a wary fox and a wise horse who find themselves together in sometimes difficult terrain, sharing their greatest fears and biggest discoveries about vulnerability, kindness, hope, friendship and love. The shared adventures and important conversations between the four friends are full of life lessons that have connected with readers of all ages.