In this interview, I talk with Andrew Hutchinson, a Director of English at a comprehensive school.
We talk about the routines Andrew follows to keep healthy. The challenge of his 65-hour-a-week job and his career through education including a period where he stepped away from teaching.
Andrew copes with the rigors of the job with a positive, fair and hardworking attitude. I certainly found the things he does inspiring and will consider them for my own work.
Listen to the full interview:
Andrew’s top tips:
Keep physically fit
Andrew took up running and said that had a positive impact on his physical and mental health.
“You’re dealing with 100 teenagers a day, if you’re not mentally and physically fit you’re finished. You could have the best lesson in the world, but if you’ve not got the energy you’ll bomb. Your personality is crucial – that’s dumbed down if you’re tired and not feeling good.”
Start every day with a clean slate
“I don’t take yesterday into tomorrow – with myself, with other teachers or with the students. Every day is a new start. I’m a realist, but a positive realist, how can we make this work, rather than what are the problems.”
Meditation, mindfulness, spirituality.
“Just to be still is beneficial. Not to stress when there are moments of great tension and pressure. Stress is real, there’s massive pressure from SLT and the teachers. You do need strategies to deal with this stress – meditation and prayer and dedication to something I believe in has been really helpful.”
“Know thyself, live with thyself – if you understand who you are and how you function then you’ll be able to deal with pressure, you’ll understand where that pressure comes from. If you’ve analyzed yourself, you know there are certain situations that will cause stress and pressure. For example, I know that I take on too much… they’re good things to do but they should be done over a longer period of time. It’s stupid because I know it’s my failing – I’m working on not doing that as much.”
“You may be a very talented person, but you have weaknesses – know them.”
Don’t underestimate the challenge
“The amount of time we spend in front of 30 young people – part acting, part parent, part manager, part teacher for five hours a day plus meetings. You need time to recover. The pressure you’re under is intense and immense.”
Be aware of self-medication
“Most teachers self-medicate on anything that makes them feel better, be aware of this and try to ensure it’s balanced,” Andrew said he medicates with his spirituality which is healthy, but if you were doing the same with wine – perhaps it wouldn’t be.
Know when to stop
“The biggest reason English teachers leave the profession is marking – marking doubles your job… Unless I have to, I don’t work weekends until Sunday afternoon.”
Work to live, don’t live to work
“Don’t let teaching become your entire life – make sure you’ve got a life outside of school. The advise I would give is stay physically fit, our school has invested in a gym for staff. It’s a very positive vibe for the staff.”
Talk about it
“Talk to your partner, family, friends – try to get them to understand your challenges without moaning.”
Could these apply to you to make you happier and healthier?
Get involved in The Healthy Teacher Project:
What do you do to stay healthy?
What is stopping you stay healthy?
I’d like to talk to you – drop me an e-mail: Luke@LukeRichardson.co.uk.