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Self Care and the’ good enough parent’

Self care can be seen as the practice of acknowledging, understanding, and meeting our own needs so that we are secure and relaxed enough to feel good, and function well. To experience wellbeing. 

Kind of like being a parent to your needs. 

In 1953 pediatrician and psychoanalyst Donald Winnicott proposed the idea of ‘good enough’ parenting. This, he saw, was a parent who can provide the adequate care and circumstances that allow a child’s healthy development.. 

What might we learn from Winnicott’s idea of ‘good enough’ for the practice of self care? 

Accepting imperfection 

Winnicott’s ‘good enough’ recognises the need to provide adequate care, but also, to mitigate perfectionism. He actually saw imperfection - within reason - as essential to the process of growth, and perfectionism a hindrance. It’s very easy for us all to fall into the black hole of feeling that nothing we do is enough. Working with the concept of ‘good enough’ can help cultivate balance and care in the expectations we set for ourselves. 

Finding you own sense of ‘good enough’ 

Am I doing well enough? It could be work, relationships, how much you exercise, your social life, your diet etc etc etc. If we are in the black hole of ‘not enough’, we can often then find ourselves, consciously or unconsciously, reaching towards the outside world for validation. Simply by making space to truly ask yourself what youfeel is good enoughfor you, you can begin to develop your own barometer, measured against a more conscious understanding of your own particular needs. Regularly making space to reflect on thiscan enable a healthy shift in the way that you ‘parent’ yourself. Giving yourself what you need for your own continued wellbeing, growth, and development in the world. 

Written by Natasha Broomfield, BAZ Facilitator and Creative Arts Therapist 


BAZ provides training for teachers, schools, businesses and individuals. If you feel this might be of interest for your participants, your school or business, please take a look at our brochure here or contact emma@bazproductions.co.uk for more information.

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Breath support

Breath support is fundamental to good vocal practice in the classroom. Without sufficient breath support many teachers find that they can’t be heard as they literally cannot make a big enough sound for the space they are in or additional background sounds they are competing with. Many teachers then find themselves compensating by increasing the tension in their neck in order to ‘push’ out more sound – this can put pressure on the larynx which houses the vocal folds, and damage them leading to soreness or loss of the voice, or even long term complications.

Good breath support is also vital for projection and it’s well documented that increasing the air intake can naturally lower our stress levels: therefore, breath support can help us sound less emotional as well as actually becoming less emotional!

The parts of the body involved in breath support are the diaphragm (the band of muscle underneath the lungs) and the intercostal muscles (which run around the lungs, in between our ribs). 

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Freeing the breath and connecting with the diaphragm (belly breathing) is vital for breath support. Many people carry so much tension in their stomachs that they cannot access their diaphragm at all. 

Here are some exercises for releasing tension in the diaphragm and intercostal muscles, as well as to strengthen them in preparation for classroom practice.

Tension Release

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Lie on your back (feet flat on floor, knees pointing to the ceiling, arms by the sides or resting on your belly) for 20-30 mins. If your neck feels uncomfortable try putting something underneath it – a small cushion or a folded-up jumper. Allow tension to release from your body as you lie – bring your attention mindfully to different areas in the body where you might store tension. Allow your hand to rest on your tummy and feel the movement up and down of your breath. Don’t force your breath or try to make it do anything special, just allow gravity to naturally let the tension melt out of your lower back, shoulders and belly. By the end you might find your belly rising and falling naturally as your diaphragm releases. Aim to do this several times a week.

 

Rib Stretches

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Stand up, weight evenly over your feet. Lift one arm up and over and stay here for a few breaths – really breath into the ribs. Then come to centre and repeat on the other side. 

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Bend the knees and wrap your hand around so you can feel your back. Lean forward slightly and breathe deeply into your back ribs.

Aim to do these rib stretches every day.

 

Diaphragm strengthening

Standing, weight evenly over your feet, breathe deeply into your stomach. Breathe in for 4 counts, hold for 4 counts, out for 4 counts on an ‘s’ sound. Keep repeating, building the outbreath in measures of 4:

In for 4, hold for 4, out for 4.

In for 4, hold for 4, out for 8.

In for 4, hold for 4, out for 12.

Etc.

Practice this a few times a week. Aim to increase slowly as you feel your breath capacity strengthening.

 

By Sarah Bedi and Catherine Bailey, co-Artistic Directors of BAZ Productions


BAZ provides training for teachers, schools, businesses and individuals. If you feel this might be of interest for your participants, your school or business, please take a look at our brochure here or contact emma@bazproductions.co.uk for more information.

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Assertiveness

What do we mean by assertiveness? Or aggression? Or passive behaviour? These well used words come so laden with preconceptions and personal emotional attachments that it can be hard to discuss. Some people imagine assertiveness means being a no-nonsense tough type who has to work ruthlessly to get what they want, others imagine assertiveness to be embodied by a calm, gentle, well-loved leader.

In our training we aim to remove the stereotypes from these words, and instead to reframe them in terms of values and beliefs. It’s important to remember that there are no judgements that come with these labels – at different points in our lives we are all aggressive sometimes, passive others and hopefully assertive too at points. But the more we can move towards an assertive communication across our interactions, the healthier our relationships will be, the less conflict we will encounter and the more enjoyable our work will be.

Assertive behaviour is valuing and articulating what you want, need, think and feel while acknowledging and respecting the wants, needs, thoughts and feelings of others.

·     This doesn’t mean you necessarily agree, but it means that there is an equal respect for both points of view.

Passive behaviour means expressing your needs, wants, thoughts and feelings in an apologetic way 

·     The aim of passive behaviour is to please others by not disagreeing with them and to avoid conflict

Aggressive behaviour means ignoring or dismissing the needs, wants, thoughts and feelings of others while expressing your own needs, wants, thoughts and feelings in inappropriate ways

·     The aim of aggressive behaviour is to get your own way, possibly at the expense of others

Remember the importance of the role of body language and tone in communication and consider how these can support assertive behaviours. If the vast majority of what we communicate is through our body language and tone, then the different between assertive and aggressive behaviour, or assertive and passive, is likely to be in the physical and tonal communication rather than the majority of the words that are said.

Consider your habitual behaviours in different contexts: eg with a close friend, during a courageous conversation at work, in a feedback context, diffusing conflict between two students. Consider at each step how you are expressing your needs and wants as well as how you are hearing the other person’s needs and wants. 

by Sarah Bedi, co-Artistic Director of BAZ Productions


BAZ provides training for teachers, schools, businesses and individuals. If you feel this might be of interest for your participants, your school or business, please take a look at our brochure here or contact emma@bazproductions.co.uk for more information.

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“I’M SO STRESSED!”

STRESS

We all experience stress. But for some of us the impact of stress can take its toll on our overall wellbeing, including our mental health.  A recent study has indicated that 74% of people in the UK felt ‘overwhelmed or unable to cope’ in the past year.

Stress can have many triggers - an increased work load, a period of change or transition, challenges in personal and work relationships, financial worries. It can be caused a single factor, or by a cumulation of many things, and it can lead one to feel threatened, overwhelmed, and like you can’t cope. Stress can manifest in physical and psychological symptoms, and if left to grow can become significantly problematic to both your mental and physical wellbeing.  It’s really important to recognise the signs of stress, and to identify when - for YOU - it is all becoming too much. 

 

WHAT TO LOOK FOR?

Signs of stress can include: 

   ▪           feelings of constant worry or anxiety

   ▪           feelings of being overwhelmed

   ▪           difficulty concentrating

   ▪           mood swings or changes in your mood

   ▪           difficulty relaxing

   ▪           low self-esteem

 

THE POWER OF NOW

For me, the the most useful tool in combatting stress has been a ‘mindful’ attitude. I don’t consider myself to be a practitioner of meditation, but I try to adopt a mindfulness attitude of nowness, in which I focus my attention on what will be best for me in the present moment. Often, the thing that will help me most in the moment, is to give myself a break!

The UK Mental Health Foundation recommends seven steps that can help to combat stress, and taking timeout, being mindful and not being too hard on yourself are on that list! You can read what they have to say here.

 

Written by Helen Broughton, Baz facilitator and Therapist


BAZ provides training for teachers, schools, businesses and individuals. If you feel this might be of interest for your participants, your school or business, please take a look at our brochure here or contact emma@bazproductions.co.uk for more information.

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Are you communicating what you want to be communicating?

At times it can be dispiriting when a classroom technique that works for others doesn’t seem to work for you. In these times it is important to notice if what you are communicating during the technique is what you want to be communicating. Remember that physical presence habits combine to form communication which is interpreted by others. 

Consider the classroom technique RadarRadar is in part designed to communicate something very specific to the classroom: “I am present and aware of everything in this room”.

Now imagine that a teacher is attempting to use the technique Radar. She is working with a class she finds challenging at the best of times. She has been advised by her PDL or her LDO to employ Radarin these instances, and so on several occasions she carefully stops, stands and swivels, scanning the room for any off task behaviour. To her dismay she finds that low level disruption increasesover the duration of the class rather than decreases. 

This teacher could easily become frustrated if she feels the technique is insufficient for the situation. This might then become a cycle where any attempt to implement the technique results in the classroom behaviour getting worse. Eventually she stops using the technique altogether.

Alternatively this teacher might step back and decide to identify if what she is communicating during the technique is what she wants to be communicating. She decides to film her next class and deliberately uses the Radarat several intervals. At the end of the day she watches the video back and identifies that during the technique her body language and tone are actually communicating something closer to: “I am anxious I’m going to see some behaviour I won’t be able to handle”. This looks very different to what she thought she was communicating: “I am present and aware of everything in the room”. She begins to understand why the students might be responding in the way that they are.

Next she breaks down her physical and tonal habits that are unhelpfully throwing off her intended communication. She identifies:

·      Closed body language – arms crossed and hand over neck

·      Unbalanced posture – weight on one foot which makes her look wobbly

·      Hesitant tone of voice with lots of rising inflections

·      Flicking eye contact that looks like it’s avoiding seeing anything

She decides to work on each of these habits one at a time over the next few weeks, by setting small targets in her journal, practicing every day in class and assessing her progress by filming herself weekly. She also works on releasing tension in the body by stretching every evening and strengthens her voice by warming up every day. Most of all she considers her intention every time she employs Radarand thinks to herself: “I am present and aware of everything in the room”.

Soon she might discover that not only is the technique proving much more effective but that she is developing better relationships with her students, is more relaxed in class and most of all is enjoying her teaching more.

 

by Sarah Bedi, co-Artistic Director of BAZ Productions


BAZ provides training for teachers, schools, businesses and individuals. If you feel this might be of interest for your participants, your school or business, please take a look at our brochure here or contact emma@bazproductions.co.uk for more information.

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Projection Vs Shouting

This video is a sneak preview from our upcoming Vocal Skills Training series.


BAZ provides training for teachers, schools, businesses and individuals. If you feel this might be of interest for your participants, your school or business, please take a look at our brochure here or contact emma@bazproductions.co.uk for more information.

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Body Language

Body language is a vital method of communication – more so than we might realise. Well documented research tells us that in 1:1 communication about an emotional subject 55% of what is communicated is through body language, 38% of what is communicated is done so through the tone of voice and 7% of communication is the words that are said.

Now, while not all communication is 1:1 about an emotional subject, professionals agree that the statistics don’t differ wildly for other contexts. Take a moment to consider that. Over half of what you communicate to another person is through the way you hold your body. Over a third is the tone of your voice. And less than 10% of what you convey to another person is the words that you say.

Now imagine a teacher is receiving some difficult feedback about their planning. Their pride is wounded, but they wish to communicate resilience, determination and dedication. The words they chose to say to communicate this are “I am going to reflect on this and apply your advice immediately”. Sounds simple, right? However, this teacher is feeling that their pride has been wounded, and their unconscious physical habits dictate that when they feel like this they develop tension in their shoulders and neck, their hands clench into fists on their knees and they start avoiding eye contact. The tension in their neck can also be heard in their tone of voice, which starts to sound a little strained and snappy.

In fact, while the words are direct and confident, the overwhelming picture that this person communicates in this moment is someone angry, emotional and defensive. Because the vast majority of what we put out into the world is through this non-verbal communication: the physical and tonal habits that are governed primarily by our emotions.

Therefore, it’s useful to start to pay attention to your physical habits. We all have different habits, formed by the different contexts of our lives: no two people will respond in exactly the same way to the same thing. Therefore it takes personal reflection to understand your habits and how they impact your communication. Begin by:

·      Noticing patterns – what are the non-verbal habits that crop up repeatedly which aren’t supporting the message you want to be communicating (eg fiddling with lanyard/pen/clothing when wanting to communicate calm authority in class). 

·      Noticing context of behaviours – does this habit appear when you feel a certain way, or are in a certain place or with certain people? 

·      Taking away the words – try not to focus on what is being said with words, and instead focus on the body language and tone alone to identify what they are communicating. 

·      Being specific – what area of body language / tone is the issue? Look for the smallest possible change to make the biggest possible impact. You don’t need to change everything, and should only focus on specific small changes at a time!

 

by Sarah Bedi, co-Artistic Director of BAZ Productions


BAZ provides training for teachers, schools, businesses and individuals. If you feel this might be of interest for your participants, your school or business, please take a look at our brochure here or contact emma@bazproductions.co.uk for more information.

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Posture to Support the Voice

This video is a sneak preview from our upcoming Vocal Skills Training series.


BAZ provides training for teachers, schools, businesses and individuals. If you feel this might be of interest for your participants, your school or business, please take a look at our brochure here or contact emma@bazproductions.co.uk for more information.

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Introduction

BAZ Productions has been working with Teach First for five years to develop a comprehensive Teacher Presence training that equips participants with the skills to effectively manage the communication aspects of their roles as teachers. 

This training weaves theoretical research from psychological, sociological and physical practices into experiential workshops. Theories of physical communication and the psychology of assertiveness are coupled with vocal skills training based on the works of Patsy Rodenburg and Cicely Berry. Fundamentally this training focuses on how to optimise the communication of the individual through non-verbal means, using body language and tone as the primary communication tools. 

Our training in Teacher Presence covers three areas:

1)    Physical Presence

2)    Vocal Skills

3)    Wellbeing

Physical Presence breaks down the role of non-verbal communication in interactions, relationship building and conflict resolution.

Research demonstrates that over half of what we communicate in any interaction is via body language alone. Further to this over a third of what we communicate is through the tone of our voice. This leaves a very small proportion of what we communication to another person belonging to the actual words that we say. However all too often we forget about our body language and tone making it easy for us to undermine the message we are trying to communicate through unconscious non-verbal habits.

Our work tackles this, exploring methods to change physical habits and strengthen the internal thoughts and beliefs that govern these habits. We support participants in awareness and control of their non-verbal communication to ensure that what they are putting out into the world is what they want to be communicating. 

Vocal Skills is a physical practice that explores the mechanics of voice production, good practice for voice in the classroom and general vocal health.

According to NUT, teachers are eight times more likely to suffer from vocal-health related conditions than those in other professions. Added to this 50% of NQTs lose their voice in their first year of teaching. While this clearly causes practical difficulties for the teachers in question to work effectively in the classroom, it can also cause additional stress, pressure and emotional trauma.

Our work here looks at physical training to prepare and strengthen the voice for classroom practice, as well as exploring modulation of the voice for engagement and differentiation of tone.

Wellbeing introduces the ideas of emotional wellbeing and self-care. We explore ways of identifying, coping with and managing stress and anxiety, how to reflect on personal vulnerabilities that the training and classroom may trigger, and introduce some basic psychological concepts that can prepare us for classroom experience and professional relationships. 

Our Wellbeing work is developed by certified arts therapists, exploring a range of work from personal wellbeing to resilience, group dynamics and managing mental health in teams. 

BAZ will provide fortnightly contributions to the PDL and LDO bulletins, drawing on our work across all three strands. Look out for videos on voice skills, definitions of assertiveness for communication, tips for wellbeing as well as much more! 


BAZ provide training for teachers, schools, businesses and individuals. If you feel this might be of interest for your participants, your school or business, please take a look at our brochure here or contact emma@bazproductions.co.uk for more information.

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