I’m writing this on the train back from Kent where we have just delivered a workshop to 15 primary PE Co-ordinators. 100% of those teachers told us that ‘time was a barrier to implementing new ideas at their school.’ So with schools being encouraged to start placing higher value on wellbeing it got us thinking, how can schools practically change their culture without taking up any existing teaching time?
Changing the culture of a school won’t be a quick or easy journey. However, by ensuring the implementation period helps teachers (as opposed to adding further work), you give yourself a great platform to work from. Below we outline how you can quickly implement effective brain breaks into your school that will a) increase your culture of wellbeing, and b) do so in a way that saves teachers time, not adds to it. Many schools already use brain breaks, but are you using them properly? Do you even know what an effective brain break looks like? Are teachers using brain breaks because they have been told to or do they really see the positive impact?
Two months in and there is little doubt that wellbeing is the hot topic of the 2019-20 academic year. Be it OFSTED’s new inspection framework or a glance at the ‘News’ section of the TES website, we can’t seem to avoid the ‘W’ word.
It is great to see the drive for schools placing wellbeing at the centre of their culture is (correctly) gathering momentum. But how do schools implement such a huge change? I have no doubt there is desire from the majority of teachers to change schools mindsets away from the current SATS centred approach and towards pupil wellbeing. But does the thought of whole scale change put off as many as it may inspire?
Implementing change is often met with resistance…..even in calm environments. Trying to instill a change of culture in an industry where teachers are already overworked, underpaid and stretched in every direction comes with real danger. Teachers may feel as though they are, again, going to have to deal with an increased workload. Some may feel overwhelmed whilst others may resist to try new ideas. If teachers already view ‘time’ as a barrier for implementing new ideas, how on earth can we hope to apply a huge change of culture?
So where do we start?
Unfortunately there isn’t a ‘one size fits all’ approach that can be taken by schools. To truly change your culture, schools will need to reflect on their own realities and attack the problem from a range of angles.
When trying to implement a change a safe strategy is to start by offering a ‘quick win.’ As mentioned above, 100% of teachers we spoke to today said that ‘time was a barrier…’ One easy way that you can start introducing more wellbeing into the school without any knock on effects to your teaching time is through the effective use of classroom based brain breaks.
How to make brain breaks effective so they a) increase the wellbeing of students and b) save you teaching time:
- Make sure they distract from the problem
Taking children’s attention away from the problem will allow them to revisit it with a fresh set of eyes. Many teachers fall into the trap of taking a break from a problem by offering children an additional problem. Instead focus on something unrelated and allow their mind to move on.
- Get children active
Five minutes of exercise will increase blood flow to the brain allowing children to focus, process more information and think differently once they settle back to task. Exercise also calms children, increases their value of self worth and decreases behaviour related incidents ensuring that your teachers will get their time back. Children don’t need to go outside, get changed or use equipment to get active. The Fitter Future programme provides loads of content for classroom based brain breaks.
- Make them mindful.
If you are looking for an alternative to getting up and active then go for a short, mindful activity that stimulates the mind and recharges the brain. Allow children to tap into their feelings before challenging them again in class. They will come back less frustrated and willing to problem solve with a new way of thinking.
- Take the brain break BEFORE you lose the class.
When you start to notice that focus may be wavering, be brave enough to stop the class and take a brain break. This will allow children to freshen up and approach the problem with a clear head in a couple of minutes.
Effectively implementing brain breaks will allow your teachers to get on with what they do best…..teach.
So why not try these ideas for brain breaks:
- Fitter Future: Get Active
- Fitter Future – Be Mindful
- Board games
- Using 5 balloons, with children remained in their seat can they keep the balloons in the air
- Group stories
Try out Fitter Future today for great brain break content and much more.Click here to start a two week free trial