how to lead change in schools

End Of Month/Term/Year Self-Care For Teachers And Leaders

Dec 13, 2020

Last week I was fortunate enough to listen to mindset coach Kylie Broadfoot (from KMB Coaching) speak on a very relevant topic for this time of year: self-care.

At first I thought the whole topic sounded a bit ‘woo woo,’ but I soon learned that it was EXACTLY the message I -and probably YOU- need to hear right now.


You know, looking after the one body and mind you have.

Oiling the machine that lets you do all the amazing things you do every day.

Making sure you’re putting back in, rather than constantly taking out.


The key takeaways

Kylie had lots of good information and tips but here were 3 of my key takeaways:

  1. The ‘self’ in self-care is important. We can’t rely on others to deliver it to us. We have to take responsibility and prioritise this for ourselves.
  2. Drinking alcohol is actually NOT classed as a form of self-care (she didn’t make any comment on chocolate though…)
  3. Self-care doesn’t mean booking into expensive day spas- it’s small acts of love, nourishing and care, often.

 One practice she suggested, that I have been implementing for a while now, is to choose to be fully present for one activity each day.

For me, it’s drinking my morning cup of tea.

Each morning I make myself a delicious cup of T2 tea and make sure I sit down and drink the tea without doing anything else at the same time- no phone, no ipad, no computer and no TV.

Just me and the tea.

I take my time and indulge in savouring the taste of the tea, rather than gulping it down absentmindedly while checking emails or social media.

It’s a simple, cheap and effective mindful practice that yields big results when repeated daily.

(BTW, my favourite T2 morning teas are Melbourne Breakfast, Australian Wattle Breakfast and Chai).

Tea and books for the win!


How does this apply to schools?

  • How do you celebrate your school’s successes?
  • How do you celebrate your team’s successes?
  • How do you celebrate your own teaching/leadership successes?


Kylie explained the importance of celebrating our successes- big and small- as a form of self-care. She asked us to consider how we currently celebrate our own successes:

  • Do we stop and acknowledge it; appreciating the moment and allowing ourselves to experience it fully? OR

  • Do we skip over the celebration in our haste to achieve bigger and better things next time?

Hmmm… does that last one sound familiar?


Schools are notoriously bad at celebrating success

They do it for students, but too often they don’t do it for staff.

They’re often so focused on driving continuous improvement, they forget that celebrating success is a critical action in achieving continuous improvement.

They forget that success breeds success.

An investment of time to pause, reflect and celebrate will pay dividends in staff motivation, buy-in and engagement in the future.

“Reinforcement is the secret to getting past the first step of your long journey and onto the second, third, and 100th steps…. We need to look for bright spots - however tiny - and reward them… Problems are easy to spot; progress, much harder. But the progress is precious.”

(Heath & Heath, 2011)

Celebration of success doesn’t have to mean expensive dinners or gifts.

It doesn’t necessarily mean long, detailed speeches from leadership either.

Remember the first key takeaway? (The ‘self’ in self-care is important.)

In her book Bringing Out The Best in People, Aubrey Daniels suggests that the leader’s role in a celebration is ‘to listen and encourage the participants to relive their accomplishments- not tell them what they did.’ She goes on to suggest that people should tell their own stories while leaders ask questions such as:

  • How did you do that?
  • What did you do?
  • How did you figure it out?
  • Who helped you?
  • How hard was it?

“Asking questions gives employees an acceptable opportunity to brag and an opportunity to publicly thank those who helped them. An added advantage to this format is when other participants hear what was done and how it was done, it's usually an effective antecedent for them to try similar things in their own work areas.”

(Daniels, 1999)


Your job this week:

Use this next week of school to reflect on and celebrate your success.

  • What have you achieved in your teaching/leading this year?
  • What have been your wins?
  • How have you made a difference this year?
  • What are you proud of?
  • How will you celebrate your successes?


Here's my reflection for the 2021 year:

What am I proud of this year? 

  • Living through months on end of lockdown in Melbourne and surviving it (with a house move thrown into the mix as well).
  • Supporting hundreds of teachers to implement effective literacy instruction in the online space.
  • Donating enough money to the Indigenous Literacy Foundation to support the purchase of over 1,500 books for children in remote indigenous communities!!
  • Typing THE END on the first draft of a 'project' I've been working on for the last 6 months.
  • Sticking to my values and modelling what I preach- being a lifelong learner who constantly pushes myself out of my comfort zone.

How have I celebrated?

Hmmm yes…Thanks for asking me this Kylie... I think I’ll jot this down on my improvements list for next year 😬


I’d love to hear how you celebrate success personally and as a school. Share your thoughts over on the Oz Lit Teacher Facebook Group.



Related Blog Posts




  • Daniels, A. (1999). Bringing out the best in people. New York: McGraw-Hill.
  • Heath, C., & Heath, D. (2011). Switch. London: Random House.

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