I have been a teacher for 26 years, a Headteacher for 11 years and, at the age of 50, this much I know about why a happy staff room is the best thing for our students.
I know I work harder when I’m happy. And anyone who knows me, will know if I’m happy because I’ll be puffing my cheeks and burbling a tune, usually something like Loving You by Minnie Riperton.

The high-pitched bits are a problem.
I know through experience that my colleagues work harder when they feel happy and unthreatened it keeps their Amygdala under control! Even Starbucks have realised this truth – a truth which seems common sense to me (I wrote about staff well-being some time ago here) – after they were alerted to a New York Times article about the inconvenience to their employees of their work schedules.
 [We] … work to ensure that Google is… an emotionally healthy place to work. So says Lara Harding, the People Programs Manager at Google. Her view is cited in the introduction to Happiness and Productivity, a research report in which its authors, Andrew J. Oswald, Eugenio Proto, and Daniel Sgroi, claim that they have provide[d] evidence…that happiness makes people more productive. They conclude that if well-being boosts people’s performance at work, this raises the possibility, at the microeconomic level and perhaps even the macroeconomic level, of self-sustaining spirals between human productivity and human well-being. Their report is well worth a read…
[scribd id=241107802 key=key-qCBRQAwhkTJp8Xt5cGbs mode=scroll]
This mix of experience and evidence is compelling: one might even call it wisdom. It certainly makes you think about what you should do as a Headteacher if your school’s examination results dipped this summer…as I wrote some time ago, In the current climate of fear…it is too easy to threaten staff in response to being threatened oneself. Headteachers have to do the opposite. At our school we deliver over 2,000 lessons each week; I cannot teach them all, so what I have to do is develop my colleagues in a safe school environment which allows them to thrive professionally and personally. It’s the only way to a decent OFSTED inspection. It’s the only way I will keep my job.

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This post has 7 Comments

  1. I am sure I saw a link on twitter to a report on this. I’d love to find it again! I wonder if there has ever been an exercise that tests SLT perception of staff welfare against that of staffroom welfare perception?

  2. Hooray for you pointing this out, John, as an influential headteacher. There’s a lot going on in industry which recognises these facts (see http://www.robertsoncooper.com/gooddayatwork – and no, they’re nothing to do with me!) Schools seem to be so preoccupied with results, initiatives, targets, keeping Ofsted happy, etc etc to notice. Headteachers are notoriously bad at prioritising their own wellbeing. It’s not a surprise, but maybe we could start a movement called Good Day at School, and raise awareness more widely?

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