Today is world Teachers Day. How appropriate at a time we appreciate them more than ever – just ask any parent who home-schooled recently.
Under normal circumstances I spend a great deal of my time working in schools, sometimes directly with pupils but most often with the school staff. In running my Everyday Magic course my mission, and passion, is bringing the many benefits of Positive Education into school communities. As much as I enjoy this work, it is not always easy. Teachers can sometimes be a tough audience and talking to them has helped me realise why.
Firstly, they feel highly scrutinised and indeed criticised. Even in this current pandemic they were, in some sections of the media, portrayed as selfish or even cowardly for asking about basic safeguards for themselves and the pupils in their care.
Secondly, I have seen many teachers who are suffering from “initiative fatigue”. Education seems to be an area politicians seldom leave alone (much like the health service, which is my other main area of interest). Priorities, targets and techniques seem to change with each new administration and schools are expected to respond accordingly, often without additional financial support.
This is linked to my final observation – the cynicism generated by these points means teachers mistakenly feel that Positive Psychologists are trying to tell them how to do their jobs.
Of course, this could not be further from the truth. Positive Education is not another fad. It has been around for decades and is already a strong world-wide movement (click here to learn more). The UK has been a little slower than other countries in understanding its power but that is changing. It is a well-researched and evidence-based approach to education that benefits both teachers and pupils. It increases resilience, promotes mental wellbeing and supports strong academic achievement. Positive Psychologists want to support teachers in their work, not add to it.
Recently I’ve been working with schools (including Buckton Vale and Mellor Primary) led by inspirational head teachers who have embraced Positive Education fully, and are placing it at the heart of what they do. They have seen for themselves the difference it makes, and are now advocates for its use in schools on a national scale.
So on Teachers Day, I want to celebrate the hard work of teachers everywhere. I also want to let them know that Positive Education can help make things easier. They deserve that too.