#TeaAndTalk began as a blog post which you can find here but this week we roll it out for real.
Words are our strongest weapon.Used harshly they wound and demoralise; used positively your words can lift, inspire, drive and impassion your colleagues. A well crafted phrase can make someone’s day wheras an ill-chosen sentence or unconsidered overreaction may trigger anxiety or self-doubt.
* * * * * *
When was the last time you talked to your colleagues?
Not a passing ‘Good Morning’, ‘How was your weekend?’ or ‘How’s the dog?’
Not a quick natter over coffee at break time, when minds are on the next lesson, whether we should be on duty or if the PowerPoint saved on your USB last night.
Do you know your staff? Really know them? What makes them tick, what pushes their buttons, what worries from life outside they carry with them all day? Does the culture of your school encourage staff to come to the staffroom at break and lunch or are they squirrelled away in their room? Are they working or hiding?
- Are the only conversations in your school about learning, targets, behaviour and appraisal?
- Do staff feel they are only ever ‘talked at’ rather than ‘talked to’ by leaders and their colleagues?
We are not, as a profession, retaining our staff nor recruiting enough. Whilst funding and governmental interventions are beyond our control, the way we look after our staff is not. The loud and complaining voice in the staffroom may drag down the mood, but what is behind this? The quiet teacher who barely interacts with anyone; solidly professional or frightened and anxious? We will never know if we don’t talk.
There is increasing stress on teachers and support staff. If we are seriously going to address the mental health issues of our professionals, a channel to voice their concerns to colleagues is vital. This is the thinking behind #TeaAndTalk. It won’t solve everything, nor will it be an overnight success. It is however about the twin supports of relationships and culture and of developing both
Hosting #TeaAndTalk is easy.
It is up to the school when you host it: it could last all year; be every term; every month; every week.
It can be hosted by a Head, SLT, governors, teachers or teaching assistants.
It can be on a one-to-one basis or in a small group.
Ban the biros, hide the highlighters, lose the lined paper: this is time set aside for talking and listening. Not ‘talking at’ but ‘talking to’, promoting Wellbeing and Mental Health.
We have produced a leaflet and poster which can be shared in your staffroom. Please see our tweets or send us an email address and we can send it on to you.
#Tea&Talk is about bringing people together over the best drink of the day.