Every single person I met was so kind and generous. It's fair to say - and clear to see - that I was utterly petrified, but every member of the team was so supportive and I was so grateful for their help. I always think that any adventure that makes your heart race is a good one, so this ticked all the boxes. Plus I met some truly inspirational people.
You've never seen such a well oiled machine! Travel arrangements, cameras whizzing, backstage crew, people in the gallery, assistants, make-up people...there was a specific person for every single item on the 'to-do' list. It was astounding. Check out the LIVE LESSON HERE, and catch up on the DISCUSSION PANEL with Ros, Susie and myself HERE.
Thank you so much to BBC Teach for inviting me to take part in this. I was absolutely honoured. I learnt so much from the experience and I'm so thankful for the patience you took with me. This is easily the scariest thing I've ever done, and I'm so grateful.
Practise being optimistic.
Even if you don't fully believe it just yet, try making your thoughts benefit you, rather than creating further barriers. If there is trouble brewing, you know that making a conscious choice to make it worse isn't going to help. Practise optimism so that it will eventually become habit; make a choice that seeks to improve a situation. At first, it might not remove the barrier, but at least it won't add an extra one!
Celebrate your success.
In a game of balance, it's vital that you celebrate what you do well! Keep realistic goals and do a little something each day to help you towards them. Celebrate each step you take! Each little action will add a sense of control amongst the chaos that is our lives. Enjoy the positive relationships you are lucky to have and use the support network you have around you.
As part of a healthy mind, know that ups come with downs. In fact, it's the downs that make you appreciate the ups! Without them, would we even feel joy in the first place? Use challenges as an opportunity to achieve yet another thing! Don't seek drama because this life is stressful enough as it is. Aim to learn the difference between a destructive reaction and a mindful response; they often have entirely opposite outcomes.
Many emotions are perfectly natural responses, but it's only through open lines of communication that we are going to learn about which emotions come to us all, and hopefully generate a general consensus about 'how much is too much?', enabling us to identify when we need more targeted support using the growing range of resources available. Good luck, friends: you've got this!
It feels like only yesterday I was writing to you about this year's classroom. Blink, and the first term is over! It's been a term of all kinds of progress, both for myself and the children! Our school has recently moved to using the Cornerstones products: a cross curricular, thematic approach built around exciting topics. They give lesson suggestions, supplementary texts that could be included, all sorts! It's safe to say that our team have really enjoyed engaging with our first topic in Year 6 - Darwin's Delights! We've applied so many of our skills to different contexts and we are so pleased with the children's start to the year!
DT, Art, great links with our Science topic, Geography and a few History skills too. I wanted to share their work so far this year. It is my intention to share their learning each term. Almost like an online moderation exercise. All feedback is welcome!
We've tracked Darwin's journey, written in role from the HMS Beagle, explored the Galapagos, sketched the tortoises... Alongside the topic, we read Sky Hawk by Gill Lewis. The text inspired much of our writing. I'll share our English and Maths books in a couple of weeks too if you like?
Whatever it was, it was always a share bag and not good for my body or mind. To counteract the less proactive day, I'd find myself working late into the night (when I should have been recharging), likely surrounded by crisp packets. Obviously, this meant I'd eventually get to bed well into the early hours, with a poor sleep because my body is trying to handle the rubbish it had just consumed, under the foolish assumption it would make me feel better. Body clock would wake me at regular running time (4.45am), which I wouldn't get up and do (after a mix of poor sleep and poor fuel the night before) and the cycle would start again.
With a general lack of pride in myself, home living became more difficult. Simple tasks such as doing my laundry and the washing up weren't completed, which meant I started to live in a space that was just as messy as my negative mindset. Stepping around piles of clothes and looking at an ever increasing stack of dirty kitchen bits were constant reminders of the failures I was quickly notching up, neatly adding to the exercise I wasn't doing and the to-do list I wasn't ticking off.
With the poor food and no exercise came physical changes. Now, there's a chance that these were concocted in my imagination as a way to feel worse, but they were there nevertheless. Fatigue and poor skin made self-confidence decrease to an all-time-low. There were also emotional changes as I found myself being over-sensitive, self-doubting and introvert. Personally and professionally, I was static.
Sinking. A feeling of worthlessness set in.
What was I playing at?
I've worked tirelessly to get where I am professionally. Why am I dragging myself down?
I've worked tirelessly to get where I am personally. Why am I suddenly choosing to believe that I'm not good enough?
I've worked tirelessly to get where I am physically. Why am I now consciously making poor choices to undo my hard work?
I've worked tirelessly to get where I am mentally. Why am I self-sabotaging, choosing weakness over strength?
Tuesday morning hit and I knew I needed to make a change. It wasn't a 5K. Just a walk - 2 laps - around the park. I posted to my Twitter. It's always been a great tool to hold me accountable. I spoke to special colleagues, friends and family; such a fantastic resource that I'm lucky to have. We are most definitely on the up.
For those that saved me, thank you so much. You'll never know what you've done for me. Regular service will resume shortly.
Over the summer there were several days where I literally didn't get up from the sofa until about 7pm. As above, I find it hard to organise my own day when so many hours are undecided for you. Perhaps I'm conditioned by such a strict timetable of the working day, that I just don't know what to do without one. I much prefer holiday-days with different errands in different places, because then I can slot jobs and tasks amongst the structure that is already forming for me. Having said that, my return to school has started with a great return to running in the mornings. Thank you for everyone encouraging me. I know the photos are annoying everyday at 5am, but they hold me accountable, and your support means the world.
The #TeachingHero team is growing, and I would like to encourage you to read their posts from the weeks gone by! There are still some weeks left, and if you want to have a post all of your own, get in touch! I think it's important we promote those spreading positive messages, rather than listening to complainers constantly. Negativity is equally contagious, and we just can't afford the effect.
I'm back to trying to read as much as possible. At the moment, my class and I are studying 'Sky Hawk' by Gill Lewis and we are LOVING IT! It's actually given me ideas for further posts later. Saying that, I also have a bunch of other books to read. I'll review them as usual later on.
This month I would like to recommend that you sign up for Smiling Mind. It's an Australian site that has LOADS of mindfulness resources and guided meditations, all organised by age group, split into courses. It runs itself, and it's ideal for using in class. Check them out!
What strategies do you use to manage workload and protect your well being?
Set a cut off point for work and stick to it. Use @fit2teachapp to monitor wellbeing and identify patterns. My school facilitates joint planning time which saves hours of work. I was amazed when I found out that not everywhere does it.
What advice would you give anyone who felt like giving up?
Contact the Education Support Partnership @EdSupportUK . They have trained counsellors who can really support you. Don't struggle on alone.
Sum up our profession in 5 words.
No two days the same.
Looking back now, the mistakes were clear:
All considered, I'm so pleased it happened. It was a necessary step in my journey that I most certainly learnt from. All mistakes are.
When browsing through various feeds that we so happily gorge on, likely torturing ourselves, please remember that it might not be all you see. They too would have had a bad day, a terrible lesson. Their airy-fairy quotes and wise tweets may have got a tonne of likes, but they still have a pile of marking they're ignoring, or are nervous about a meeting tomorrow.
We all have imperfections.
Just this week, undeniably the prompt for this post, I came to the haunting realisation that I was trying to cover too much, too soon. For those in the know, I've gone to Year 6, from Year 5. It's a blessing and a curse, because you're aware of the exact coverage of the previous year: often a topic of contention for the new teacher. However, it became clear to both my Year Partner and I, that we have expected far too much in the first two and a half weeks of our time together. An extensive list of Success Criteria for our first pieces of writing, should have at least been revision on the itemised features first, before any expected application. I fear I've skimmed some important steps. I actually sat my class down to apologise for the pace at which we have been moving, finally taking note of their panicked expressions. This isn't to say, however, that they haven't risen to the challenges set. I still believe in high expectations, and have been exceptionally proud of their efforts. It was a lapse in judgement as I moved away from my fundamental beliefs around teaching in a stepwise, specific manner to ensure understanding over an obsession with coverage. Process over performance always.
Although there are many jokes about the laziness of students these days, you must understand that you're within a certain percentage of the population because you are deemed to have the capability to achieve something they're offering you. Do everything within your power to reduce the prevalence of such stereotypes. Choose the right time to knuckle down, and tell people you've done so. We know that an embarrassing club story is usually more entertaining, but don't put yourself down by pretending that's all you do. Celebrate the library too!
Even if you go on to further study, you're only going to do this for the first time once! Make the most of it, both professionally and personally. Make close friends from all walks of life and create memories that you'll laugh about forever. Enjoy yourself and tell people all about it. It'll be difficult at times, because I firmly believe, if you're doing it right, your university days will actually be the busiest time of your life. For now at least...