A collaborative blog by Ian Gilbert of Independent Thinking and Laughology’s Founder Stephanie Davies.  This blog was written in a safe, socially distanced way and is ready to help you get on with those in your Christmas bubble.

Christmas bubble policies

They say you can choose your friends, but you can’t choose your family. And generally, that’s true. Except this year, at Christmas, thanks to various government Christmas bubble policies, it turns out that you can choose your family after all.

So, welcome Cousin Diego, who always brings enough tequila to any party to sedate a small bull. And sorry, Uncle Colin, your passive aggressive racist spleen will have to be vented elsewhere this year. Not my fault. Blame Boris. You voted for him after all.

So, choosing family is now a thing - but no hugging the elderly or infirm if you want to see them again. But what about colleagues? You can’t really choose them, can you? Unless you’re on the interview panel.

The rise of bubble trouble

With bubbles at home and at work, how do you deal with the inevitable Christmas bubble trouble that will arise from time to time? After all, even when you have colleagues you really get on well with, the current pressures create situations when you just want to hide their favourite Pritt Stick in frustration.

And as for Margaret in year three? You’ve always had trouble sharing the same kettle with her, let alone a bubble.

All of which means that relationships are under the spotlight – and under the cosh – like never before. And if there is one thing we know, it’s that schools run on relationships. Whether that’s between colleagues, children or, especially, between young people and the adults in the building. Get those right and behaviour, motivation and achievement follows very nicely indeed.

Investing in relationships

Independent Thinking has always encouraged teachers and school leaders to really invest in the nature of their relationships with children and students. From the smile when the class comes through the door, to the tone of voice the teacher uses. From the humour they tap into, to the passion and enthusiasm they have for what and how they teach, all these little things add up to make a big difference.

Which means, this year of all years, we have to work extra hard at them in our various bubbles. After all, in such a pressurised environment, small fractures can quickly become chasms.

At Laughology, we have been helping schools and workplaces adapt to the new ways of working thrown up by the pandemic. And to help teachers and pupils navigate the tricky school Christmas bubble situation, we’ve developed this five-point plan:

  1. Make time for fun - it’s our number one rule! Laughing together eases tension and supports positive relationships. After all, as Independent Thinking has been saying for years, ‘Education is too important to be taken seriously’.
  2. Accept that everyone has different views and opinions. Having people inside the bubble aiming out is usually much better than having them outside the bubble aiming in. And, as a bubble, agree to disagree. And if people don’t agree with you, then that’s OK. Let it go. It’s not Twitter.
  3. Some topics need to be avoided. If they cause heated debate, agree not to talk about them. Brexit. Strictly. Marmite. All off the table.
  4. Understanding and empathy for others is a great antidote to frustrations. Really try to understand what others are going through and where they are coming from. Except Uncle Colin.
  5. Take a Christmas bubble break. ‘I’m just stepping outside. I may be some time,’ is fine. Spend time with yourself and breathe. Pat yourself on the back for all you’re doing in an extraordinarily difficult time and encourage others to do the same.

For more tips and insights into the power of relationships, join Laughology founder, Stephanie Davies, and Independent Thinking founder, Ian Gilbert, in their own little online bubble on January 19th at 7pm for our free webinar, Bubble Trouble – The Art of Getting On. It’s free. Bring mince pies.