Are you a supply teacher or teaching assistant looking for some help and advice? If so, you are in the right place. Our blogs offer tips and tricks on everything from classroom management to interview tips and support, along with day in the life case studies from real supply teachers, ECTs and cover supervisors. They also give you an insight into what working for Smile is like, the ways which we support local communities and charities and the training and events that we offer.
It’s important to us that our team continue learning and developing during their time with us. While we offer lots of training through recruitment networks like the TRN, we also give our team the opportunity to develop their persona skills too. Olivia, our secondary team leader, recently attended a training course and became a mental health first aider so she could better support her team.
I’ve managed a team at Smile for as long as I can remember, and I have always felt a responsibility to ensure my team enjoy what they do, although recruitment can certainly be a rollercoaster. When I started training as a manager, there was so much to learn. We learnt how to deliver training, how to coach, how to improve performance, as well as how to run successful 1:1 and team meetings.
As we continued to be offered CPD through Smile to improve our management skills, a course was offered to us through St John Ambulance called ‘Mental Health First Aid’. The management team at Smile encouraged me to attend a course myself so that I had the relevant training to help anyone in my team if and when they ever needed it. I’d always been conscious of how I would deal with a situation like this, so felt it was a really good opportunity to spend a full day learning from the experts.
The day itself was a full day classroom training which included topics including:
· Mental health and stress in the workplace
· Action planning for using mental health first aid
· Building a mentally healthy workplace
· Early warning signs of mental ill-health
· Applying the Mental Health First Aid action plan
The section around managing stress was so insightful and we were given useful techniques such as the ‘stress container’ to use in 1:1s to help colleagues manage their workload. The action plans we talked through were also very useful to have as a tool for anyone showing signs of struggling with their mental health.
Before the course, I almost felt like it would teach us how to solve someone’s problems (and this has always been a fault of mine) but it really wasn’t, it was providing us with the knowledge to advise and reassure someone who is struggling where to get expert help. This, more than anything was what I took from the course and have felt so much more confident in my work and personal life, encouraging those in need to reach out. As with most organisations, we spend more time with our ‘Smile Family’ than we do with our own families which is why at Smile we genuinely believe we have a duty to take care of each other.
Mental Health can be a topic brushed under the carpet in many organisations. During the day I was shocked to hear how other people attending had to fight to get onto the course, whereas I had been encouraged to attend. Smile has always put mental health high on the agenda and looking back now, although I believe classroom training was so important in my development as a manager, I have learnt the most from my own role models, including my manager, who, even now, in my half-termly 1:1 always asks “how are you?” before anything else.
It’s not just the mental health of our team that we care for though, we have also recently started offering first aid for mental health course for our teaching staff in partnership with Cultivate Coaching and Teach Well Alliance. This gives our teaching and support staff the chance to learn skills, just like I did while also applying it to an educational setting (Suneta and Steve, who run the course both previously worked as senior leadership in schools).