Teacher supports pupils with motivational morning sessions initiative

Ilford County High School hero

Art teacher Naz Akhtar has been running morning affirmation sessions for the boys at Ilford County High School since early February, with the initiative proving invaluable for pupils' emotional well-being during this testing time. - Credit: Naz Akhtar

A teacher at Ilford County High School is helping pupils develop beyond the classroom with morning affirmation sessions designed to boost motivation and self-esteem. 

Naz Akhtar - an art teacher at the all-boys school in Fremantle Road, Barkingside - decided to launch these sessions in February, having joined the school during the throes of the Covid-19 pandemic in September.

Coined Mr Akhtar's AM Hustle, students and parents are invited onto a video call every morning for a 30-minute booster which aims to maximise the day ahead.

The teacher, who holds a master's degree in education management, explains what inspired the initiative: "I think Redbridge kids are special, talented, intelligent. While academics are very important, they also need to have support to promote emotional well-being."

Intended to help develop resilience whilst boosting motivation and self-esteem, Mr Akhtar - also the school's director of student development - describes the sessions as "a routine of breathing exercises and meditation; journaling gratitude and affirmations; visualising without limiting beliefs and noting down daily actions".


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The ultimate aim is to encourage the development of a growth mindset - namely, one which embraces challenge - with the teacher applying principles studied during the master's he undertook at King's College. 

"I am really passionate about this. I wanted to put all the theory I'd learned into practice. What motivates me is that these sessions are helping the boys."

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Though numbers vary, the teacher has welcomed as many as 100 people onto sessions since launching on February 9, and regularly receives positive feedback from parents. 

This "amazing" response has encouraged Mr Akhtar to keep the sessions going - still online from 7-7.30am - now pupils are back in the classroom. 

His initiative has garnered praise from headteacher Rebecca Drysdale, who said: "AM Hustle is brilliant. It has supported and motivated both staff and students, providing a positive start to our days."

While staff and students feel supported and motivated, Mr Akhtar feels humbled.

He said: “It’s easier to help develop strong pupils than to repair broken adults."

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