PERMA Series – Part 5: ‘A for Accomplishment’



Accomplishment – (noun)

1. an act or instance of carrying into effect; fulfilment

2. something done admirably or creditably

3. anything accomplished; deed; achievement

As educators we are often so caught up in the progress of our students that we may not take the time to even realise that their successes are actually a result of our own hard work and perseverance (which are considerable accomplishments in their own right!)

So how does accomplishment relate to staff wellbeing? Well, if we can focus on what we are achieving and remember that it’s a number of baby steps that are required to make giant leaps, this is a good place to start. Knowing why we do the things we do as well as understanding and being patient with the teaching and learning process is what motivates us to persevere with our work. Once we see students achieve and reach benchmarks that’s when our sense of purpose is improved and we feel like we’ve done what we set out to achieve. It’s this intrinsic reward from the sense of accomplishment which motivates us to keep going.

Accomplishment can be applied to your work in schools in so many ways and can have a significant uplifting effect within your site which of course results in staff wellbeing being enhanced. Publicly celebrating and/or acknowledging accomplishments and encouraging collaborative professional relationships are excellent ways to recognise colleagues’ hard work. We spend considerable time acknowledging student accomplishments in this way at assemblies don’t we but I’m yet to ever see staff news shared in the same way. Why is this I wonder? Do you think that as a profession we are just too busy to spend the time acknowledging our own accomplishments and those of others or is it that for some reason we don’t consider our own gains as important?

This A strand of PERMA is of course inextricably linked with the other pillars. Not that mistakes aren’t valuable opportunities for learning but if we can shift the focus onto What Went Well as well as our wins for the day then we are in a much better position to celebrate a job well done.

How do you celebrate your accomplishments? How does your staff acknowledge and recognise the accomplishments at your site? If you have any examples or ideas I’d love you to share them below so that they can become a resource for others!

Be Kind (Especially to Yourself)

remember to be kind to yourself

I’ve had a hectic last few weeks. Included in the fun times were finishing up a position in a school, children being unwell, a number of massive deadlines, the washing machine breaking down, and going on holiday (which although really lovely wasn’t quite as relaxing as I’d hoped it would be). Despite being away I found myself agitated and it took until the very last days of my camping adventure to feel some sense of relief from the distinct ‘on the brink of overwhelm’ sensation that I’d been experiencing in the previous three or so weeks.

Although I felt quite relaxed once I got home this was all relatively short lived. On the weekend occurred a parenting foopah, an incident which despite all best intentions and interventions being in place happened anyway. Something cringe-worthy, an oversight by my husband and I, something which never should have happened. I’d prefer not to go into details, however the event was enough to get that sense of overwhelm returned in no time and to essentially send me into a flat spin, agitated and distressed. I slept restlessly that night as I kept on waking, unable to settle back to sleep as I was plagued by thoughts of the event as well as feelings of guilt, remorse and shame about it ever occurring.

The next morning I rang my supervisor/counsellor to debrief. I knew if I hadn’t been under such a high level of stress that I would have been able to handle the situation differently, but as we know found that the existing pressures I had been facing had reduced my ability to manage this situation optimally. I explained what had happened and was struck by her first question to me which was “Louiza, are you being kind to yourself here or are you beating yourself up about nothing?”

She reminded me of things I know and tell other people all the time. I am only human and sometimes things will go wrong, despite every safeguard being in place. There is only so much I can control in life and really what is more important is not events that happen but the way that I manage them in the event that they do occur. Although I would have preferred that the incident hadn’t occurred, the reality was that I had handled the situation really well minimising any impact or danger that may have occurred otherwise.

There’s two reasons that I’ve written this all out for you dear reader. The first reason is as a reminder to be kind to yourself. Accept your infallibility as a human being, and remember that mistakes are opportunities for growth and learning. Secondly, even though as a counsellor I know all these things and support other people when they experience similar levels of distress, I was still unable to see the situation objectively because I was too closely involved in it. This is normal and is the reason why I recommend speaking with someone on your ‘go-to’ team about issues when they arise for you. Having a support system in place which you can easily access when things go haywire is invaluable.

*NB – A happy ending to the story. On my counsellor’s recommendation I spoke to my child’s teacher about what had happened so that she would be aware and informed if there happened to be any fallout in the classroom. I felt so much better speaking to her about it, especially as she laughed and recounted a similar incident that had happened in her house with one of her children when they were at school. Imagine how much better I felt about things then!