Diary of an NQT: Looking after my wellbeing

Written by: Diary of an NQT | Published:
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An INSET day focused on mental and physical wellbeing proved to be an unexpected success for our NQT diarist

Our school recently had an INSET day focused on the mental, physical and spiritual wellbeing of staff.

With no children attending, our senior leaders arranged a number of workshops and activities, with staff invited to sign up for those that piqued their interest. The choices available included physical activities such as running, yoga and zumba, and there were workshops dealing with financial management, mindfulness and wellbeing in the classroom. This diverse programme of events meant that everyone was able to find activities or workshops that they wanted to take part in.

I confess that, prior to the day itself, I was a little sceptical about how much this would benefit me and my colleagues. However, my scepticism was entirely unfounded, as the day proved to be a resounding success and has had a positive impact upon the morale of staff in the school. It was an eye-opening and enjoyable day at work, and I left school that evening feeling refreshed in both body and mind.

I have always been interested in trying yoga, and I found it to be a challenging but very rewarding session to take part in. The instructor encouraged us to push our bodies as far as we could; after the session, my legs and arms were very sore, but my body also felt less tense and I was incredibly relaxed.

My colleagues and I had a good laugh during the yoga session (some of us were more suited to the activity than others!) and everyone seemed to thoroughly enjoy it, so much so that there is now talk about making yoga a regular after-school activity for members of staff. Should this happen, I will be interested in exploring the discipline further.

The INSET day also gave me my first taste of mindfulness, which I found to be very insightful and soothing. The mindfulness instructor gave some useful tips to help relieve stress through breathing and mental exercises. As with yoga, I found the mindfulness workshop to be wonderfully relaxing, and I would like to take part in more sessions in the future.

During the INSET day we were also allocated a couple of hours extra PPA time, which was invaluable. As well as planning lessons, I spent some time re-organising my classroom.

I have been unhappy with the wall displays in my room since the end of last term, but was struggling to find time to sort them out. This extra preparation time allowed me to focus on my classroom and return it to the neat, stimulating environment that it was at the start of the academic year. I take great pride in the organisation and aesthetic of my classroom, so I was glad to be able to dedicate some proper time to sorting it out.

Despite my initial scepticism, the INSET day had a positive impact on me and my colleagues. I was able to try-out some new activities, both of which I got a lot out of, and was also able to spend time working on my classroom and planning lessons.

Using some of the mindfulness techniques I had been taught in the workshop, I was able to sleep very well that evening, and returned to school the next day feeling better rested than I have in some time.

In such a high-pressure job, it is easy to get so caught up in the day-to-day chaos that we neglect to look after ourselves. However, this INSET showed clearly that our mental and physical wellbeing is crucial if we are to perform our duties to the absolute best of our abilities.

  • Our NQT diarist this year is a teacher of history at a comprehensive school in the North of England.


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