There are many formidable unsung heroes within schools, and many teachers who regularly go that extra mile. Sadly we often just hear about the negative aspects of teaching from those who are quick to criticise. Modern day teaching is demanding, with burnout of new teachers"Teachers are partly responsible for helping to shape young adults for their future lives." being quoted as much sooner - four / five years as reported by teacher unions. Nurturing the new teachers and giving them opportunities for CPD will be a win-win situation for any school.
Keeping staff and motivating students
During teenage years, our children spend more time perhaps in the company of their tutors / teachers than with their parents. Teachers are undoubtedly partly responsible for helping to shape these young adults for their future lives, and the more positive that input is the better. Happy staff, with a good headteacher at the helm, will in turn run a far happier ship. CPD and training play a vital role in achieving a positive environment, where staff will remain for longer resulting in continuity of teaching for pupils.
Some will read this article and say I am stating the obvious… I guess I am, though tight budgets and time place ridiculous restraints on staff having time for CPD, but neglecting this part of a ‘teacher’s lot’ results too often in everyone losing out.
Pressures on today’s students
Today’s society and technology advancement both bring additional challenges to students of all ages. Teaching and support staff alike are expected to consider a child’s wellbeing, incorporating and respecting safeguarding Policies and guidelines.
Bullying takes several forms, and is no longer restricted to the playground. With technology and use of modern media, it can result in a student being bullied 24/7. Don’t be fooled into thinking bullying is limited to those students with special educational needs, or those belonging to a racial or sexual minority... Any pupil can fall prey to bullying.
Each school year brings different types of stresses and changes, and of course students are faced with important decisions to make in terms of choosing their subject options. Having staff that can empathise with emotional wellbeing during these times will not only improve grades and help students make better/right choices, but it will encourage and inspire confidence among them.
Bereavement support and positive reaction
Sensible proactive parents of course alert and involve schools when their children are coming to terms with serious illness, or perhaps a family bereavement, thus giving staff an opportunity to support the student and be ready should s/he show signs that they may be struggling. Teachers are amazing, but not mind-readers, and information is power after all. Bereavement support is a sensitive subject, and death still remains a taboo for many. However, the loss of a parent or sibling is something that many students have to come to terms with, and it may well be at the worst time, eg when taking exams.
Teachers will have to factor in how to offer practical support and recognise warning signs, while working closely with the family as best they can. In a multicultural society, an awareness of appropriate acknowledgement and assistance is crucial. Referral for extra support for the students, when needed, should be encouraged.
I was personally touched recently, when a young friend of my daughter died tragically and suddenly. "Teachers are amazing, but not mind-readers."Staff whom had known her were compassionate and proactive in supporting her friends, something that was vital for them at that time. In this instance, the school have honoured this brilliant A-star student by having an annual achievement award in her memory, and this is a very positive message to send to students in such circumstances. Parents and teachers are encouraging students to work hard and fulfil their own dreams in her memory too.
Supporting your staff
Remember: Teachers are also naturally affected by the loss of a pupil whom they have personally taught, and may have over several years seen blossom into a bright young woman or confident young man.
Teaching staff will also benefit from bereavement counselling and pastoral support from their own school’s pastoral department – in turn, it is imperative that pastoral staff receive on-going support if they are expected to work ‘on the front line’.
Adding holistic skills to our CV
Speaking personally, I have never tired of furthering my education and enhancing my own personal development. Being able to put counselling and NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming) life skills to good use - not just in article writing but working with teenagers, whether it be supporting them through bereavement, or encouraging them to be the best they can - has been extremely rewarding.
I would like to think my own CPD has also encouraged my colleagues to be more understanding of the type of issues teenagers of today have to overcome. Today’s students live in a far more stressful environment, with problems that we certainly didn’t have to encompass when we were at school.
Learning extracurricular skills of a holistic nature and/or studying psychology will, aside of giving an individual another string to their bow, enhance relationships with not just one’s students, but work colleagues too.
I sincerely hope I have inspired a few teachers to consider reviewing their own wish list for CPD; increase their job satisfaction and feel slightly better equipped to motivate students – which is a daily challenge all of its own and perhaps an excellent subject for my next article?
Finally, I hope that my ideas expressed within this article are responsible for encouraging headteachers to revisit that budget!
How do you tackle pastoral CPD in your school? Let us know below.