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  • Writer's pictureAdrian Bethune

Vlog with Dr Emma Kell

Updated: Aug 20, 2020

Each month we'll interview an expert that has influenced our book Wellbeing In the Primary Classroom. This month we spoke to author of How To Survive in Teaching, teacher, Dr Emma Kell.

Dr Emma Kell

Emma has 20 years experience as a teacher and is Head of English at a school in North London. She has written several articles and blog posts on school leadership and the pressures of teaching, and has recently completed a doctorate on teacher well-being and work-life balance at Middlesex University.

When I was writing my book, Emma kindly agreed to read my chapter entitled 'Teacher Wellbeing' where I explore why teacher's wellbeing is crucial for pupil wellbeing and attainment, and how teachers can nourish themselves so they can thrive in and out of the classroom. I caught up with Emma to ask him some questions and each day this week I'll publish a new clip from the interview...enjoy!

What advice would you give to your NQT self?

Emma has been teaching for over 20 years but if she was to start it all over again, what advice would she give her NQT self? Click on the video to learn from the voice of reason and experience, and you may even learn something about lobster farming!

How can we be a 'good enough' parent and teacher?      

Anyone will know that being a teacher is exhausting. You give so much of yourself during the day, you're often depleted in the evening. But what if you then have children to look after in the evening too? Emma completed her doctorate looking into how parent-teachers can be 'good enough' and also look after their #wellbeing. I caught up with her to find out how all teachers can learn to be 'good enough'. 

What if you're thinking about leaving teaching?

I have certainly considered leaving teaching several times during my 8 years of teaching and I know friends and colleagues who have actually left. In fact, teaching has a retention problem right now and we are haemorrhaging many good teachers from the profession. Sometimes the thoughts about leaving are seasonal (cold, dark November nights are a common time!), sometimes they are context driven (the school just isn't a right fit for us), and sometimes leaving teaching is the right thing to do. Emma explores these three areas in this next clip.

Is there a teaching crisis in the UK?

Despite not wanting to admit there was actually a teaching crisis, research from Emma's book shows an alarmingly high rate of teachers experiencing stress, anxiety and depression as a direct result of their jobs. The cause? 'Toxic schools' as Emma calls them. Characterised by a lack of humanity, rigid and inflexible systems that prioritise policies over people, the ranking of staff and departments, high levels of presenteeism (being seen to be getting in early and staying late), and high absence rates. Without these toxic schools, there would be no teaching crisis. Click to watch Emma explain more. 

You are not alone

Teaching can feel like a lonely place at times. When we're the only adult in our classroom and things aren't going our way, who can we turn to? The children? Possibly. Our colleagues? Hopefully. Twitter? If you choose your allies wisely. Our friends and family? Most definitely. The fact is, teachers, you are not alone. There is always someone to turn to and reach out to. And not just for the hard times either. Share your successes, be proud and savour your triumphs! Emma shares her experiences of how others have supported her when she needed it the most. Click on the clip to watch the final video in the series.

Adrian Bethune

Adrian is a primary school teacher and author of Wellbeing in the Primary Classroom – A Practical Guide to Teaching Happiness (out on 6th September 2018, Bloomsbury).

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