All you've got to do is smile

4th January 2008 at 00:00
If teachers are happy, then their pupils will be happy too. That leads to improved learning and better results. More importantly, it makes school a sociable and relaxed place, full of positive relationships. I attended The Secrets of Happy Schools, a course that taught us about the science of happiness and how endorphins change the way we feel.

Alistair Smith and Sir John Jones, the two speakers, were inspirational. Normally I make lots of notes on a course, but this time I was too carried away by what was being said.

A happy school is one where people are free to express themselves. That's why we have set up a learning and teaching council, to give the pupils more of a say in how they are taught and the way that their school is structured.

I also got the staff together and asked them to draw self-portraits, representing how they think they are seen by the pupils. Then we talked about how working life can sometimes be a treadmill, but how openness and empathy can make a difference.

Happiness spreads very easily. A colleague emailed me recently to say thank you for smiling at her in the corridor. She said it had given her a lift. And that gave me a lift too. No person is an island and that is never more true than in a school community.

Vivolin Walker is vice-principal at Harris Academy in Peckham. She was talking to Steven Hastings.

The details

Winning the H Factor - The Secrets of Happy Schools is run by Alite, the educational trainers and publishers. The course will run in Leeds, London, Birmingham, Dunblane and Manchester, cost pound;245+VAT HFactor.htm.

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