Teachers at Ark Boulton

Teachers at Ark Boulton are committed individuals, they want the best for their pupils, understanding that our pupils have not necessarily had the best circumstances or the best start in life. They are highly motivated to keep learning pedagogies that help them to become the best professionals they can be. They are kind in the face of adversity in supporting those around them and coming together to support communities. They are brave in facing new challenges with technology and communication, as well as being resilient to the usual pressures of the profession. Most of all, they keep an optimistic view of what can be achieved and aim high to make this difficult and unprecedented time, one that we can all be proud of in the way that we acted as moral exemplars.  

Whilst we uphold our school ethos, we realise that working in the new way that we are facing currently has its challenges, the most important priority is the safety and wellbeing of staff and pupils. We know that we have the skills as teachers, leaders, parents, family members to manage the situation that faces us. Every day as teachers, like other professions who care for others, we balance our personal situations so that we can act as role models - and this is appreciated.  

 
Challenges that we may be facing at this time  

There are challenges that we may be facing that we don’t normally encounter in this time. There are lots of unknowns, even from those who normally advise us like doctors or service providers. There are some strategies that can help, like thinking about the things that we can control rather than focusing on the things we can’t.  

  • Technology – Britain has coped extremely well with a quick response to working from home, but difficulties of communication is a challenge. Whereas before we could speak face to face with colleagues about the things that we may want to ask, some of us may be anxious about using technology, or asking questions over technology.  
  • Lack of exercise – It is harder to do exercise now that we are locked down; making use of this weather to go on a daily walk or online fitness examples on social media platforms makes a big difference to physical and mental wellbeing.  
  • Isolation – feelings of isolation will vary depending on your circumstances. Please tell someone that you are by yourself and make a list of people you can call or neighbours you can speak to at a safe distance. Your line manager and colleagues will call you for nothing but a chat, if you would like. Let us know and we will arrange this. There may be some volunteering you can do with NHS or Age UK in calling those who are isolated.  
  • Dealing with family situations – the merging of work, home spaces and family all in one place can lead to some contention and may take some settling in. Practise of understanding and respect of each other’s needs will go a long way as well as taking the time to discuss arrangements that work for you all as a family. Let us know of any difficulties so that we can understand your situation.  
  • Health Anxiety – you are not alone on this one, organisations in mental health are working to develop support for people who are worried about how they can best prevent becoming ill with corona virus, this can be exasperated if you or someone you know has other health related issues. Remember to only check information in trusted sources and keep in touch with your doctor or primary care consultants with health concerns. Although face to face appointments are not happening, they are still open to give advice.  
  • Having time to ourselves – self-care is a big topic for our health at the moment, ours might be reduced by having to care for others around the clock, especially if the people we are with become ill. Remembering that this time will pass and the situation will improve is a reminder we all need to hear often. Sleep and rest is hugely important to our immunity and overcoming illness so make sure you stick to a good sleep routine to help protect yourself against corona virus but also for good brain function in the learning process.  

Are these challenges affecting you? Do you have any advice on overcoming challenges? Please get in touch and let us know so that we can be a support to one another and put colleagues in touch who may be encountering similar situations. There are links to further information at the end of this article.

Please do keep in touch with your line manager every day and tell us how you are getting on. We trust that you are carving out a routine, given your personal family situation and managing your workload in a flexible and professional way and that you will let them know if there is anything we can do to support you.  

 
Ark Learning Platform: Working from home training  

So far, this article has acknowledged the numerous obstacles that face us on a day-to-day basis, as we live and work in isolation. During this next section, we have highlighted some excellent tips that may help you to adapt your current work situation for the better. The key tips below have been taken from the “Making Home Working Work” webinar, which is available from the Ark Learning Platform.  

  1. Ensuring that you have a flexible and manageable working routine is extremely important from both a productivity and well-being point of view. The attached reflection tool asks key questions that will help you to structure your working day.  
  2. Building motivation and personal accountability into your working day is crucial when creating a purposeful work habit. Review the points below and consider how many you already have in place and which points will need to be considered.  
  3. A positive mindset can give you more confidence, improve your mood, and even reduce the likelihood of developing conditions such as hypertension, depression and other stress-related disorders. The image below considers ‘locus of control’. ‘Locus of control’ describes the extent to which individuals believe they can control events that affect them. Locus is either internal (I can control my life) or external (decisions are affected by fate or environmental factors out of my control). Inevitably, there will always be elements of our lives are dictated to, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t still find a way to take control of how this affects us. Be positive in your approach and ‘make things happen’ for you.   
  4. Resilience is important for several reasons. When experiences are overwhelming, it helps us to maintain balance in our lives, especially during difficult or stressful periods, and can also protect us from the development of some mental health difficulties and issues. The image below explores how resilience directly benefits our lives.  
  5. Now that you have considered how you can make working from home work for you and have begun to put this into practice, complete the final checklist and rate yourself as either high, medium or low against each tick.  
 

 
Ark Boulton Family 

Thank you for taking the time to read this. As an Ark Boulton family, the time to support each other and remain optimistic in the face of difficulty is needed more than ever. Whilst there continues to be a high death rate across the country due to corona virus, let’s stay indoors and remain vigilant in taking social distancing measures, and protect ourselves, our NHS and our communities. It is our job, continuously to educate our pupils, remembering that we are still in loco parentis for them despite the channels of communicating changes.

Some of our pupils, who aren’t necessarily on the vulnerable list, are in very difficult circumstances, let them know that we are still here to guide them so that they make the right choices and continue to strive be the best versions of themselves by practising honesty, courage and discipline to focus on the goals of being role models to siblings and looking after parents, upskilling the community and gaining qualifications that will increase their social mobility and choices for further education and beyond. We will be online at break or lunchtimes for a Staff Social in the Virtual Well-being room, and we hope to chat with you there soon.

 

Further information:  

Reducing anxiety

Every Mind Matters (NHS)

Anxiety (NHS)

Coronavirus Anxiety Tips (NHS)

Washing hands

Hand Hygiene

Getting enough sleep

Sleep and Immunity (Sleep Foundation)

Sleep is your superpower

Having a routine that suits you

Work from home effectively

Volunteering

Good Samaritan App (NHS)

NCVO opportunities

Age UK volunteering