Blog by Dr Lucy Kelly, PI (Principal Investigator) for the ‘Reimagining the Diary’ project, which explores diary-keeping and reflective practice as a positive tool for teacher wellbeing.
So despite another national lockdown, it’s been a busy start to the year for the ‘Reimagining the Diary’ project. Myself and Martyn from Teacher5aday are now working with 82 teachers across the country, each of whom has received a physical Diary Toolkit (pictured below) to chart their wellbeing journey over the term. It’s been lovely hearing such wonderful feedback on the Toolkits. I think receiving something so beautiful during lockdown had a really positive impact – symbolising connection and a new chapter for everyone – and I’m looking forward to seeing how this phase progresses.
We had our launch event a couple of weeks ago and over 60 teachers attended. Like last time, there’s something so powerful about coming together and being part of a wellbeing community; to know that you’re not alone when it comes to your wellbeing and that people are there to support you through the many ebbs and flows. This is definitely the case for me. I’m really enjoying using my own Diary Toolkit and sharing what I’ve found; there’s a level of accountability but it feels gentle and helpful which, when it comes to habit formation and establishing new routines, is really important. Furthermore, the fact that this is an ongoing course, over a term, means that there is time and space for this new habit to form: it’s not going to happen overnight, and that’s okay. Also, coming together for the CPD events, and hearing from educators prioritising their wellbeing, shows that it can be done: we do not need to burn out or neglect the other aspects of our lives in order to flourish in the classroom. In fact, prioritising your own wellbeing makes you a better educator but, before you can prioritise it, you need to know what wellbeing looks like to you, personally, and this is where the Diary Toolkit comes in.
I’ve enjoyed having a look at some of the data from the previous phase of the project. Again, the feedback has been incredible: 90% of participants found that being part of an ongoing, wellbeing community had a positive impact on their wellbeing; 84% wanted to continue the programme; 95% would advise other educators to join the course; and 97% would encourage educators to use the Diary Toolkit. We need to go through it in more depth and pull out the main themes – watch this space! – but what the data does show is a need for ongoing wellbeing CPD and that we’re taking the right steps to reimagining the diary for twenty-first century educators.
Reimagining the diary
We’re excited to reimagine the diary further, using this data to refine and expand the physical Toolkit, as well as developing the digital side of the project so that users can make their own custom-made Toolkits based on the activities that resonate the most with them. Phase 5 is going to centre on this, where, after Easter, we’ll be working with the Oak Partnership Trust in Somerset. Thirty teachers will have the chance to use the blanket physical Diary Toolkit for 3 weeks, before deciding on the custom-made Toolkit they’d like to use for another 3 weeks. We will gather participants’ views on this bespoke approach to diary-keeping through a detailed survey at the end of the project, as well as mini-wellbeing check-ins throughout. This data will be really important in thinking about how we develop our custom-made approach to diary-keeping so that we can reach a greater number of teachers, as well as how we might develop the digital side of the project even further.
Alongside this phase of the project, Martyn and I will be working with a male-only group after Easter, as well as St Paul’s CE Primary School in Bolton, which will be our first whole-school approach to the ‘Reimagining the Diary’ and Teacher5aday collaboration. Both of these phases are incredibly important. We are aware that not as many men have been involved in the project to date and, therefore, we’re keen to begin to address this gap and consider how the Diary Toolkit and an ongoing approach to wellbeing CPD can support them. The fact that this phase of the project was at capacity within two days of being advertised shows that there is definitely a need for structured, ongoing wellbeing support.
Implementing Continuous Professional Development
Working with St Paul’s CE Primary School in Bolton is a very exciting opportunity. This is the first school we’re working with and it’s going to be wonderful to see how we can implement our wellbeing CPD programme at a school level. We very much hope that this collaboration will lead to working with other schools and developing the programme to support schools both in the short-term, and the long-term.
If wellbeing is bespoke, then wellbeing CPD must reflect this. So too should the diary: there is not a one-size-fits-all format because there is not a one-size-fits-all human. Therefore, we very much hope that the Diary Toolkit and our wellbeing CPD gives participants a space to get to know their many selves – personal and professional – and to find out their wellbeing needs. If you would like to know more about the project, including a school-based programme working with myself @drlucykelly and @MartynReah, then please do get in touch.
School of Education programmes
If you are thinking of becoming a teacher, find out more about our Ofsted ‘Outstanding’ Initial Teacher Education (PGCE) Programme at the School of Education: