Smile, Breathe and Be Fabulous. Sound advice for staff and school leaders.

“She turned to the sunlight And shook her yellow head,And whispered to her neighbor- -Winter is dead.”

Teaching is a people orientated profession. You deal with people big and small daily. You hear and know their stories; you know their strengths and weaknesses; you often are more than just a teacher to our young people. 

I am not going to lie over the past year – I have been stressed. Not because I dislike my job, but because I was allowing other people to give me their stress. Huge boxes of it. 

As I am a fairly caring person, I was allowing myself to focus on someone else’s needs without thinking about what I needed. 

During one particularly stressful episode, I stumbled across Brenda Shankey. She is wonderful lady, whom I have long admired for her style and expertise in the beauty industry. She is a very successful business woman and most recently has devoted her energies into the practice of Mindfulness. Most recently, she has released a book and audio book called Be Fabulous.

After a few initial contacts, I invited Brenda to come into my school before the start of the school year to focus on teaching my staff how to find time for themselves and prioritise their well-being before they can fully discharge their duties.

During her session, she told the staff to think about her mantra. Smile, Breathe and Be Fabulous. Taking responsibility for your well-being and mental health is the key to setting the tone for your classroom or your school.

A mindfulness reflection led by Brenda assisted us on focusing on our goals, our personal targets and helped us to reflect on what makes us happy. It was a team building moment and an experience that we collectively enjoyed together. The feedback from staff has been tremendous.

Thanks to @brendashankey for a lovely morning, learning all about taking control of our inner selves…
I needed to hear this. Thank you for arranging this. I feel happier already.
I really enjoyed that I am giving this a go. Her (Brenda’s) story is inspirational. I need to focus on what is important.

In the run up to opening school, in the stressful moments it has been great to hear the phrases that Brenda used by my colleagues to restore our balance. It has worked for me. I do feel more relaxed and I have slept better. As this term starts I am going to smile, breathe and be fabulous. Thank you Brenda for sharing your journey and inspiring us to take better care of ourselves. 

Brenda will be working with some Year 7 pupils in the autumn term to develop mindfulness for children. I look forward to sharing the outcomes.

You can contact Brenda through her website


The Shazam Style of School Leadership

The Shazam Style of School Leadership

Have you ever heard a speaker, wrote something down and implemented the suggested practice?

You have? You are an educational shazamer!

Shazam is a well known music app. It is widely used to find the names of songs and artists. For my talk for @EduFestNI. I decided that I would use this concept of Shazam to describe leadership styles.

You see for me leadership and learning, go hand in hand.

You need to understand pedagogy and keep up to date with it. You need to draw from the leadership experience of others and Shazam the good stuff. When you Shazam the right song you can fill the dance floor and sometimes get people moving without realising it.

As a teacher nothing made me happier than walking into a colleague’s classroom and seeing a good idea. I enjoyed reading Blogs, Twitter and Pinterest to see wall displays, hear new innovative practice and Shazam ideas.

As with Leadership you need to Shazam you need to keep abreast of what is happening in other schools locally and globally. It refreshes you and most of all it gives a feeling of reassurance that you are heading in the right direction.

During my talk, I talked about leadership styles and much more. I recommended several books to Shazam.  Most are fairly publications new but great thought provoking reads for teachers and school leaders.

These are:

The Best Job in the World – Vic Goddard

The art of standing out – Andrew Morrish

The Five Love Languages – Appreciation in the work place – Gary Chapman (A further blog post on Five Love Languages will follow in the Autumn)

Confident Teacher – Alex Quigley

Leadership matters – Andy Buck

Headstrong – Dame Sally Coates

As a school leader it is easy to get caught up in the everyday events of school and be so busy developing others you forget about your own professional development – so recharge and enjoy the music of other schools and leadership experience every and now again.

So before term starts, SHAZAM to develop your teaching or your leadership. You will be richer for it.