Teacher wellbeing: the power of the staffroom quiz

Looking for an easy way to improve teacher wellbeing? Gavin Simpson says a quiz is a simple and effective answer

Teacher wellbeing: The power of the staffroom quiz

Over the past few years, schools have been looking for a silver bullet in terms of dealing with teacher wellbeing, but, for me, it is the little things that happen within a school that create an environment for improved wellbeing.

At our school, the use of the Tes Quiz on a Friday morning is a great example of a little activity that can boost school happiness.

How a quiz can boost teacher wellbeing

As the official "Quiz Master" at my school (as recognised on the internal phone list), let me guide you through the reasons why (note: it does not have to be the Tes quiz, but that's the one we do, and no – no one from Tes has asked me to write this).

  1. Every Friday morning, teachers from a wide variety of departments will pitch up in the staffroom, ready for battle armed with their vocal buzzer.

    This mix of teachers in one place is very rare these days, as departments have become more isolated across sprawling school sites. Therefore, coming together over a fun, competitive quiz becomes a rebellious act of social networking.
  2. The beauty of the Tes quiz is that most questions are naturally suited for a particular department. Therefore, when a history teacher beats a geography teacher to a question about the capital of Tanzania, it’s a magical moment for all – let the joshing begin!

    It is rare that a Friday morning quiz will pass without a lot of laughter (especially when I have to say the word "archipelago") and we all know the scientific benefits of laughter for our health and wellbeing.
  3. If you continue the quiz over several weeks and years, as we have done, relationships form and get stronger.

    For schools to function effectively, you need a healthy amount of cooperation. It is much easier to ask a favour from someone when you know they have a surprising amount of knowledge about terrible 1990s Europop and can recall the band that had a hit record with Rhythm is a Dancer.
  4. Coming together for a quiz on a Friday morning extends into other areas that promote increased wellbeing among staff.

    Our quizzers are now the team to beat at our Parents’ Association Quiz Night and some of the core quizzers from the past appeared on BBC TV show Eggheads.

    We didn’t win but crikey…it was exciting! Plus we all still remember who directed The Bicycle Thief...
  5. At the end of each quiz, we normally have a winner and they will skip off with joy in their heart, and you just know they’ll "pay it forward" throughout the school day.

    If the winner gets five or more questions right, they hold up the copy of Tes in the staffroom, like when cricketers raise the ball when they get a "five-for", and this adds an extra feel-good factor to their lives.

    This is also true for the quizzer who gets a question right for the first time. Breaking the duck is a monumental experience and will always get a huge round of applause from the quizzing ensemble. What a wonderfully positive experience.

As the saying goes, if you look after the pennies, the pounds look after themselves, and that is the case when it comes to wellbeing.

Therefore we salute John Cunnane at Tes and thank him for the hours of fun we’ve had on a Friday morning.

Having said that, we’re still trying to work out why the South Atlantic Ocean was given as an answer once, and not just the Atlantic!

(By the way: the capital of Tanzania is Dodoma, Snap! had a hit with Rhythm is a Dancer and Vittorio De Sica directed The Bicycle Thief)

Gavin Simpson is the head of economics at Dame Alice Owen's School in Hertfordshire. He tweets at @MrGSimpson

In the 20 December issue of Tes, we have the Bumper Quiz of the Year – 50 questions to get your staffroom quizzing for that bit longer. 

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