In this interview, I talk with David Keyte, an NQT primary school teacher currently teaching year 4. David gives a fascinating insight into what it means to be a healthy teacher because he’s relatively new to the profession, working for a number of years in recruitment before retraining. It’s interesting to hear what he thinks the challenges of teaching are and how he overcomes them in a healthy way.
Listen to the full interview here:
David’s top tips:
Understand what is actually expected
“Teachers need to understand what is actually expected of them. There is a lack of clarity between what teachers think they have to do and what they are doing. I think that if SLT realized some of the hours teachers were putting in that would concern them. There should be no expectation that teachers work until midnight at get up at 6am. We should do more sharing resources, educate teachers about how their workload can be manageable and their results acceptable.”
Talk about your weaknesses
“Communication is so important… There needs to be a general school culture where fear is removed. It can happen that people let issues boil up and only talk about it when it’s too late. There is a great sense of pride because you’re judged on your performance, you don’t want to appear vulnerable… We need to ask for help and admit areas of weakness.”
“Schools don’t want to lose teachers, if teachers can go forward before things become issues then that’s a positive thing.”
Try to create an environment where people feel trusted
“People are generally happy to do extra if they feel trusted and purposeful. Being in an environment when you feel genuinely trusted will have a big positive impact on your mental health.”
You need to make sure you’re present in the lesson
“As a teacher, you need to be confident in what you’re doing, the lesson needs to be planned well, and you need to be 100% there in the lesson – energetic, selling the content and the best possible version of a teacher that you can be. I don’t feel you can do that as a teacher if you’re not sleeping properly, not feeling trusted, or not happy at the school. There are so many factors that come into making sure the teacher is teaching the best lesson they can.”
Know that the grass isn’t greener
“Coming from someone who has worked in recruitment… it’s not easy to get a job with the security and pensions that teaching has. Sometimes there is an attitude that the grass is greener outside of teaching… but I don’t think they are.”
Get home at a decent time
“I actively try to get out of the building at five-thirty so I can spend time with wife and go to the gym. I almost feel guilty about that, but I know I shouldn’t. that’s something I’m trying to really push. There should not be a stigma about when someone leaves. They should be trusted to work in a way that gets results and works for them.”
Teaching shouldn’t dictate your life
“Throw yourself into teaching, absolutely. But make sure you’ve got something outside of it, something for you and something that can put school into perspective. Teaching is a great job where you can make a huge difference, but it doesn’t need to dictate your life.”
Make time for your physical healthy
“Since I’ve come into teaching my attitude towards fitness is less than it was. In previous careers image was very important. Life is different in teaching. Gym, health and fitness take a bit of a backseat as opposed to a life when you’re just concerned with making money.”
You need to be happy to make the difference
“Realise that you are vitally important to the children you are teaching, you have got to be happy and content in your own life to do those children justice.”
Could these things make you happier and healthier?
Get involved in The Healthy Teacher Project:
What do you do to stay healthy?
What is stopping you stay healthy?
I’d like to talk to you – drop me an e-mail, Luke@LukeRichardson.co.uk.