We’ve been collecting your stories about the inspiring and encouraging experiences you’ve had at work during 2008. Here is a collection of the SEAL themed responses you sent to the question, What has been your most positive experience at work this year?

“Having done 6 weeks volunteering building an orphanage in Malawi during summer 2007 my partner and I returned and did a series of assemblies based on our experiences. Students responded with such passion and enthusiasm that we were able to return this year and, with the money raised, sponsor more orphans through their education, put up another orphanage building, provide food for the orphans until the rainy season when their crops will supply maize, put a roof on a village house and set up a young man in a carpentry apprenticeship. We have a constant stream of students wanting to raise money and also asking if they can also do some voluntary work in Malawi. Students are aware of their global responsibilities – they just need guidance into how to put them into practice!”
– Global citizenship and international schools co-ordinator

“Our children looking out for each other. Helping one another to achieve their aims. Seeing their happy faces each day. Also we have wonderful supportive parents who offer us so much help and support. Thank you to all the children and the parents.”
– Foundation Phase teacher

“As a Family Support Worker this role in school is vital, it shows that if we do not support these families during times of difficulties children are not able to learn. We have just had our Ofsted inspection and by the importance of my role in school we were given an outstanding award in the category of care support and guidance. This is a real achievement for the school to one that we are all very proud of!”
–  Family Support Worker

“Attending the 75th Birthday celebration of the school and meeting some of the folks from the first intake. Hearing their tales of having to go to the on site air raid shelter. Having the information about the first headteacher who was an innovator with ‘new ideas’ which very much resemble the ‘every child matters’ approach and seeing our current children enjoying the event, and exploring our new children’s centre attached to the school continuing a long history of being a positive and enduring influence in our community.”
– Chair of Governors

“A recent assembly for Y8 and then two days later the same assembly for Y10. The theme was prejudice and I wanted to look at something relevant to the age group of my students. I found a YouTube video about Sophie Lancaster who was murdered by a group of young teenagers for being different. I wondered at the reaction of this powerful video as every single student was sat in silence watching and listening. At the end of the assembly students were dismissed and went out calmly and quietly. I began to question myself as to whether the assembly was too powerful in its message. However, I need not have worried as at lunch that day whilst on patrol I was approached by several students who asked lots of questions about Sophie and prejudice. The impact of the video and the rest of the presentation had made a lasting impression on them. They showed to me how emotionally intelligent they were through discussions they had with their peers. I felt good, indeed proud, because I now know that we need to challenge our young people and wait to hear their voices of reason, they have them and they need to be shown how to express them in a positive way.”
– Year 8 and 10 Leader

As part of a twinning project with Tansfiguration Primary School, in Owerri, Nigeria a colleague and I visited the school last March. We had a really exciting time, bringing back lots of photographs, video clips, artefacts and fabrics, to show to the children in school. We held a Nigeria Day in school, where all the children, (dressed in brightly coloured clothes) experienced drumming, dancing, artwork, Nigerian story-telling and tasting Nigerian food. Many parents joined us during the day and great fun was had by all. However, the following week, one of the pupils asked why we hadn’t asked for donations for ‘non-uniform’ day (which we usually do, to support school funds). She, along with many others, had been touched by the video-footage of people in Owerri queuing for water, and wanted to raise money for a bore-hole, so that they could have access to clean water. As a result, we held a ‘Nigeria Concert’, where the pupils showed the skills and talents they had acquired during the Nigeria Day. They raised £220 which we hope will be used towards establishing a new bore-hole. I mentioned this, because I was so proud of the children’s awareness and involvement in the project, and of the way they encouraged parents and family to join in too.
– Head teacher

The ability to have empathy and understanding for the learner from their own perspective of difficulties with their learning engagement. Listening and facilitating their individual learning plan. Nurturing and encouraging learning at their own pace. To be told by the learner how they appreciate being respected and treated as adults. This has all been very encouraging for me as a facilitator.
– Lecturer at FE College for 14-19

“Co-facilitating a resilience program with groups of Year 9 students in a 2 day peer skills overnight camp structure. The enthusiasm of the young people, and the change that transpired over the course of the two day workshop program was inspiring and exhilarating. It demonstrated how magnificent young people are when the come together as a team and are provided with respect and an empowering atmosphere in which they can learn new personal skills and ways of assisting each other. Very powerful educative processes.”
– Educational Psychologist for Corangamite Network of schools, Victoria Australia

“There have been loads actually but celebrating Peace Day together in September always stands out. We handed out smile cards, thanked one another for our lessons, held tea parties in our Forms throughout school. Some of our children were fasting for Ramadan, so some classes opted to postpone their tea party until all could join in. The icing on the cake was the ‘no tackling allowed’ Peace Football match – Year 11 v Staff. By remembering we are actually ‘all on the same side’ we also allow ourselves to have fun together.”
– Head of R.E.

“Training with Relax Kids and being able to use the techniques and resources throughout our wonderful Primary School. Children have enjoyed playing the games, learning the stretches also the breathing techniques. They have been able to use the affirmations on a daily basis and watching them relax peacefully during the visualisation gives a huge sense of achieving inner calmness within our hectic world.”
– Senior Teaching Assistant & Relax Kids Teacher

“I have been at my current school in my role as deputy since January 2008, and been lucky enough to have many wonderful experiences. I love my job and dearly WANT to work hard for the children. My most positive has to be the community cohesion project between my previous, predominately white school and my current, predominately Asian school. We took away 8 children and parent from each school for a full weekend. The way the families worked together was great. The moment of awe was when the children referred to each other as their new friends and hugged each other when they met to deliver an assembly at each other’s schools. Other special moments include being told by a parent that I was doing a good job, being told by a child that she was making great progress this year and being told by a member of staff that it was a pity the current head was not ready to move on, as it would be great for me to have the head’s job! It is the best job you can have, and I love it despite ALL the pressures.”
– Deputy head teacher

“Working on a special project with Year 4 children, University students and Elders from the Jewish Day Care Centre.”
– Assistant Head Teacher and Inclusion Coordinator

“Having the constant supportive stream of advice, background information on the many social, emotional and attitudinal programmes which are being researched and started in the schools to which are children go. It is vital that parents should have such a friendly stream of information so that they can work with school in these critical areas of child development.”
– Volunteer coordinator, Autism support group

“End of school concert for P7s. A VERY weak boy with a good voice so, (as you would in such circumstances), we did MacBeth (BBC schools’ version with songs) and gave him the lead! Originally we had prompt cards but peer support, tremendous self motivation, use of CDs to practise at home meant that he was the star of the show. He is a “likely lad” with a hardy upbringing. Some boys don’t like to speak to their primary school teacher once they’ve left but I was walking in town four weeks after end of school and a voice from across the road attracted my attention. It was the same boy, with a group of friends: he held his hand up and shouted, “Out damned spot!!” and …”Mr. Mac… the blood still hasn’t come off!” I hope that this positive experience might be like the blood… and stay with him as a motivation through his challenging teenage years!”