Taking Stress Reduction Tips from the “Happiest School on Earth”
If you were a teacher and you wanted stress reduction tips, who would you turn to? Who would be your go-to guru for helping you achieve those ultimate “ahhhhh” moments many teachers so desperately need? If you don’t have anyone like that, you could always look to the staff of Three Bridges primary school in Southall in London. This school is billed as the “happiest school” on Earth for a reason.
In the article Tips on Reducing Teacher Stress from the ‘Happiest School on Earth’, writer Liz Lightfoot dispels the mystery behind how they manage to achieve what so many other schools feel remains out of their grasp.
Among many other things, part of the key appears to have a lot to do with assessment and feedback and how it’s approached in Three Bridges. Says deputy headteacher Jeremy Hannay:
“I had never seen so much marking before I came to England. Ontario schools give teachers the professional autonomy to decide when written marking is appropriate and when it would be better to use oral or peer-to-peer feedback … we’ve drastically reduced the amount of written feedback, and yet feedback overall has risen because teachers are giving it orally and encouraging pupils to think about how well they are getting on and what’s next, and we promote pupil-to-pupil feedback.”
This has led to an achievement level increase of 20%, from 67% to 87% in 2011.
Stress Reduction Tips from Three Bridges
So what is Three Bridges doing to ease some of the pressures of school life on both educators and students? Some of the stress reduction Lightfoot has pinpointed comes from apparently successful practices such as:
- shorter school days
- regular staff development meetings and mindfulness sessions
- an extra week’s holiday at summer closures
- continuing oral and peer-to-peer feedback
- a decrease in extra after-class revision sessions
You can learn more about Three Bridges and how they maintain their claim of being the happiest school on the planet in Liz Lightfoot’s full article on The Guardian. You can also follow them on Twitter at @happiestschoolonearth.