Category: Uncategorized


#Nurture 15/16 Review

Well this was supposed to be revisited in the middle of the year but better late then never.

This year ChocoTzar took the lead with a 10/10 and I am looking at my 2016 10s and see where I am, before I enter the new academic year.

1.  My first priority this year has to be to listen to my body more. I tried last year but failed as the end of the year showed. I did get better at it but this year I must DO.

Doing this much more and no major set backs, when I’ve been ill I’ve listened taken the time and got better, no more dragging my self in .GOOD

2. No more burning the oil at both ends, I need to set time limits and if it doesn’t get done then it doesn’t get done.

MMM, still a work in progress, just can’t seem to leave jobs un done. RED

3. Walk, walk, walk, the spinning went away, difficult went you can’t feel the left side of your body, but walking I can manage. Need to set target steps every day, 10,000 isn’t it. So there it is in black and white.

Doing more of this and happy with it have the company of my beautiful Bentley to keep me company although could do more. AMBER.

4. New Job……. so much to do…………. Prioritise…. work out what is the departments, then the school priority; then look at what is achievable in the first term.  As far as that goes I won’t know till I get there. But for me I think, no I know the key will be RELATIONSHIPS. Build those and everything else will stem from that.

Well what changes have happened there, I wrote about my first term as a Baptism of Fire and then things have changed so quickly in the last two terms and that is another blog. Suffice to say I have now ended up as Head of Biology which starts in September so whole new challenges are facing me with my own department, so I have to start again so all of the above applies, but at least I won’t be the new girl.

This for the time being will be the biggest challenge at school establishing the Biology Department within the Science team as its own identity yet being an integral part of the science team. AMBER

5. On that I need to employ filter much more and not allow my ‘WTF’ face to show. Has been a bit of a problem this last term in meetings!! ( But people are sooo stupid sometimes) 

This is still a work in progress the ‘WTF’s’ have definitely got less but I have apparently developed a ‘RBF’ so now need to remove that one when sitting in meetings, as I will be attending more of these in the new year.  RED/AMBER

6. Massages

These have been regular and enjoyed, then gone through drought patches, all depending on finances, the pocket can only stretch so far. AMBER

7. Keep Charlotte focused and revising no matter how hard and stressful with me she or it gets, we have to get through to the end, it will be worth it. She will thank me ….. I hope.

Well for those of you with GCSE results we await with chewed finger nails and worried sleepless nights, this was monumental in my house not just because I had the added stress of the 180 kids at school as well. We had tantrums, tears, storm outs, packing of bags and that was just me!! Stress was at an all time high, but we also laughed, and cried together, worked hard and got through and now we wait. Lets hope the results are what she deserves. As she worked  hard. GREEN

8. Write more, I wrote lots when I was sick and found it really helped. But now I need do more deeper thinking, I feel the need to challenge myself with my writing. Could be interesting. I have more to say, probably not relevant to anyone else but who knows.

Epic fail, managed on twice I think, oh well such is life. RED

9. Remember to keep in touch with people, I get so insular sometimes when I am on my own, my shadow who hasn’t completely gone can get very big and I need to make more effort to step outside, visit, get in the car, travel up the road a few junctions to see my friends.

Done better, shadow is smaller, visits have been a few, events less but more beneficial, attended a few Teachmeets and WomensEd, been selective this year to avoid burn out, seen friends, had a fabulous holiday with my darling Sally. So not too bad. AMBER/GREEN

10. Finally be courageous, be kind, laugh, smile and dance more.

This I have done and will continue to do, as I lost my 96 year old Nan in February and she liked to dance and this put this in to perspective, life is short and you need to laugh out loud like no one is listening, dance like no one is watching and live life to the fullest and this I will continue to do. GREEN

So there you have it. Reviewed for the last 8 months, 4 months to go till the end of 2016 what we have in store who knows but you know what I look forward with optimism, new challenges ahead and a heart full of hope.

Smiles to you all.

A baptism of fire.

fire

The new year is often a time of reflection and review. Many of us took part in the Nurture posts and the Teacher5aday pledges. Promising to make big or small changes to our routines or lives that hopefully will make life better for our families and work life balance. Make us feel happier more fulfilled or just different.

I did the same and made a major change. A new job; what’s more a January start.

Now people told me, yes the dreaded ‘they’. It would be hard. A mid year start. Not only did I have to battle the weather, the dark mornings and nights; Its that hard slog term, where the reality of exams is starting to rear its head for year 11, pressure is mounting for  departments. SLT’s are getting twitchy. Staff are getting tired, sick, sick and tired.

I also took on a promotion as well. Not one for doing thing by halves as you all know, I included  a 55 minute commute to a brand new area, to a school that was in RI.

Hey if I’m going to give myself a challenge then why the hell not. I was in desperate need of a change. New scenery, new perspective. One where I would be utilised to my potential. Where I would be stretched, forced to think beyond what I thought I could do.

They had A levels.

First day starts with me ending up presenting at the end of the CPD mini teachmeet style on my classroom practice, don’t know whether this was by design or just me being too keen but what the hell, I’ve arrived. New girl on the block. But I’ve already realised that I’ve got my work cut out for me with my department and haven’t even met the kids yet!.

So my plan of attack is first half of term, easy my self in, play is low key (for those that know me pick yourselves up) get to establish myself with the kids. I take the great advice from Amy Jeetley and Patric Ottely-O’Connor who gave up their time on the phone to talk me down off the ceiling one evening when I had a melt down realising that I thought bit off more that I could chew over the Christmas holidays. Put that into practice. Set about establishing my routines. Follow my plan and learn as much as I can as quick as I can about the school from as many different sources as possible.

First week done. Blur of meetings, tutor groups, seating plans, all the usual. Monday passes, Tuesday arrives and then an urgent email, calling for all staff to meet after school……

Can only mean one thing…..  O F S T E D. Yep they were arriving on Wednesday. You are kidding me. I’ve been there all of 7 days and they are going to descend on us for not only a full Section 5 but there will be 7 inspectors on the team.

An inspector to inspect the head inspector, and a trainee inspector to watch this inspection plus the other 5 in the team. Well talk about the school moving into overdrive.

The school was ready, they were prepared like a well oiled machine the new head was incredible, inspiring, she just asked the staff to do what they do best, no panic, no long lecture, no edicts or demands. Appreciation for what was to come, free lunch laid on every day because she knew we were working late into the night.

All support staff stayed every evening including TA’s secretaries, reprographics, data team, printing off sims data, seating plans, SEN data, photocopying for us teachers, so we could focus on writing the lesson plans, annotating seating plans if not done (i.e. me as I’d only just go there), making sure resources were ready for those that needed extra colours, over lays, etc.) Caretakers stayed to lock up when we were ready to go, the school was open from 6am nothing was too much trouble. To feel like the whole school was pulling together was incredible.

I was checked on by numerous teachers who I had no idea who they were but were just passing and asking if I was ok, did I need anyone to do anything. What could I do, just make sure I taught the best lessons I could under the circumstances. Preparation was key.

The wonderful Crista Hazel, supported me through the Tuesday evening with wise words and encouragement even telling me off when it was time to go home, and eat and sleep.

Wednesday arrived and so did the inspectors to introduce themselves and to say they looked liked ’50 shades of OFSTED’. Did they really all have to wear grey!! and all start with “HI I’m a HMI Ofsted Inspector,” yeah I think we worked that one our for ourselves!.

Anyway to cut it short, I was finally observed on Thursday P3 a double lesson with year 13 which has 4 students in it a Btec lesson where none of them plan on following a science career, they are so quiet you wouldn’t know they were there. I won’t bore with details. But it was OK suffice to say I have to inject more enthusiasm for science into the students. Yeah good one.

I must just say one thing our head sent out an email on Wednesday night just to keep up focus, again it one of pure encouragement, reminding us to take care of ourselves, eat, sleep and keep working as well she knew we were. No long missive of what we weren’t doing. No damning reports of what went wrong on that day. It was such an uplifting email to get at 8pm as I was still writing out my lesson plans for the next day, it renewed me with even more determination not to let the side down, not matter that I’d only been there a few days.

Needless to say we got through and the report was GOOD and we have moved forward and everyone was happy. Well almost.

Science didn’t do so well overall.

Hence there went my quiet intro to the job. Here was me thinking I would be able to get a handle on the characters work out what my role would look like and get a grip on some of the big jobs and small ones, in my own way. NOPE. SLT not happy so my new role began with a vengeance.

I am conducting learning conversations twice a week, book monitoring’s, coaching of a member of one of the more difficult members of the team, (thanks gang) plus head of department about to go on maternity. A Science week to organise, a school trip to organise for disadvantaged year 9s. Intervention tracking for year 10. ISA planning for year 10 at some point. Getting my head around PiXL and start using it. Rewrite the new curriculum for year 9. Support the new ingoing head of department.

Get to grips with under performing year 11 classes and triple year 10 class and get them back on track. Plus teach Physics and Chemistry to both year 11 and 9 which is out of my subject. Ensure new marking policy is being implemented across the department. Pick up some of the primary liaison work from the outgoing head of department possibly if the timetable works. Liaise with new HOD to ensure that when the part timer who has also just told us that she is now pregnant leaves we manage to replace her with a qualified scientist as the impact of not having specialist is major and one we cannot afford to impact our results.

Sort out my tutor group who currently hate me (and that is true). Deal with some very low self esteem year 9’s who believe that they can’t do anything so there is not point in even trying.

Oh amongst all this almost forgot, we had the departmental performance review in the last two weeks of term. Which is your performance observation. So you have a 48 hour window where SLT can drop in and observe any lesson you are teaching during that time. My lessons were the exactly the same ones that OFSTED were here.  I had 9 lessons to prepare for. Last two days of half term. Wednesday and Thursday. No pressure there then.

My first official observation with SLT of the school since interview. Luckily for me they choose my underperforming, low ability year 11s, period 1, Wednesday morning. One pupil just returned after 5 weeks in a pru! ( So nice don’t you think)

Previous lesson they all had a test just had results,  not a happy bunch as realised how much I was pushing and expecting them to work. Data drop just been done, not happy with their levels or commitment to learning I’d given them either.

But we’d had a chat and were moving on as he’s walking in (by the way he’s Head of Maths). Lesson went well I think. Pupils up taking part, asking questions, completing work. That was up until I stood on my desk, and was ready to do a demo. I’m saying to kids, goggles on else I can’t do the demo. I’m waiting, they are looking around, and notice Sir doesn’t have his on, so they all shout at him to get his on. I hold my breathe, he gets the goggles put them on.

Result….. nailed it. Routines established…. Sieve my custard over the Bunsen,  flames hit the roof, nearly loose eyebrows, kids in hysterics, whopping, oohing, respiration and combustion, compared, more group worked carried out. Questions asked, answered. No funny business; troublesome lad, brought into line by others. Job done.!

End of first half of term has come. Who knows what next term has in store. But if this one is to go by. It will be just as exciting.

And breathe.

 

 

Wellbeing Warriors

There has been a lot written in the teaching press at the moment about the wellbeing of teachers and the effect of stress on the profession.

With horrific headlines that have sent shock waves through our profession, such as this one

‘ Head Hangs herself after Ofsted down grades her school’ http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2015/nov/20/headteacher-killed-herself-after-ofsted-downgrade-inquest.

Teacher stress levels in England ‘soaring’, data shows from a BBC investigation.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-31921457

Or the Crisis? What Crisis? | @ChocoTzar a head teacher http://www.labourteachers.org.uk/crisis-what-crisis-chocotzar/

The latest one to be published today is that ‘Teachers work longer hours in England and Scotland than most other developed countries’ http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-34902882.

How have we got to this situation? Our government is so convinced that we are doing such a poor job, that it is driving the profession into the ground with accountability targets, league tables, data tracking, and performance measures.

We are being driven in to production line mode, one model fits all. If you teach this way, the subject that we were taught in the elite private schools of our forefathers, and of our white middle class patriarchal government, then our current standards and students will all get better and be more successful; in the meantime, jobs are less available, prices are soaring, family units are changing, and our children have uncertain futures that they are unable to plan for.

Meanwhile innocent people attend a concert one evening only never to return home. We have to answer the questions, the why do we have to do this subject? this content? this lesson miss? when all they want to know is why did they do that miss? and we have not a thought to our own care.

We as teachers are caught up in the maelstrom of mayhem and somehow have to pave a way through this for the young and tender minds of our charges while taking care of ourselves as we make sense of the chaos.

So we push ourselves to keep going for the sake of our jobs, to reach the targets, to meet the deadlines of the never ending expectations that are thrown our way. The change in the marking policy half way through the year, the change in the presentation policy because somebody went to another school and their books looked better than our books. The HR policies that state you can’t go to a funeral unless it’s your absolute closest family member, even though this close family friend raised you because your mother was very ill for a lot of your childhood and now you want to say your goodbyes, yet when they finally relent you are reminded that your pay will be docked. The policy that states you can’t attend your own child’s parents evening because it falls on our parents evening and you have to prioritise the school’s one ahead of seeing to your own child’s progress. The policies that make you worry when you take more than the number of allotted days off sick within any three consecutive months for fear of a meeting to discuss your suitability to do your job, so you don’t take that extra day. You push on through to the half term and spend an entire 5 days in bed, spending no time with your family through sheer exhaustion.

All the while this eats at your own wellbeing, every day you take yourself into class and the faces stare at you and they start to ask. ‘Are you ok miss?’ and you reply ‘I’m fine, you know, marking late’. Looking at them wondering if they are ok because if they really knew, would they go for the kill, would they see the weakness and like the lions on the plains of the Serengeti picking off the weakest in the pack. So you are firmer, a little less tolerant of the mischief, of the banter. A little sterner with the discipline because you know if you let anything slip it could all come crashing down like a house of cards.

So where do we go, who do we confide in when we feel the turmoil and the worry becoming too much to bear? We feel the wellbeing well becoming dry and our ability to function as a ‘normal teacher’ disappearing each day.

Do we look to someone in our department, our faculty head, and our line manager? So you look around and what do you see, similar black eyes, sunken faces, so you know you can’t talk to them because if you open those dams it will be too much, the water will flow through and you could break them, as they are just holding it all together just as you are. Do you go higher, you try, but they don’t want to hear, they are the edict pushers the ones who are driving the train, they want the results because they too are being driven by their own masters who are bigger, harder and more demanding, ones who we at the whiteboard are shielded somewhat from if your leadership team are doing their job well. But again wellbeing is seen as something unquantifiable, wishy-washy, and all a bit girly and often these male dominated leadership teams just don’t get it.

So where are our wellbeing warriors? They are out there. They are in the ether. They are on social media,they are in the Twittershpere in the amazing connections of #teacher5aday who has now reached it 1st birthday and celebrated by a month of #Wellbeing madness of delivering #wellbeing bags to many deserving teachers across the country organized by individual teachers who each were experiencing their own issues, who continued to care and worked tirelessly through October half term to bring smiles to their colleagues who they thought needed to be taken care of. But also in the connection made by other educators who share their work, stories and friendships and experience.

They are in the friends on Facebook who check in on you every now again just to make sure you are doing ok. They are the #Staffroom bloggers who just say it how it is not for fame or glory but remind you that they are having a tough time, fun time, bake time, purple pen time, crazy exam answer time.

They are in the sharing world of edubloggers, both known and anonymous who shed light on their own schools and make your realize you are not along no matter how hard it gets.

The #WomenEd who are striving to raise the profile of women educators promoting the importance of not losing site of being a woman who is able to nurture and be strong at the same time in education. We don’t have to emulate men to be successful.

They are in your family when they just remember that you need chocolate when you are marking and not just those silly little bars but those really big 750g size bars and no matter how much you say you are on a diet they buy them for you anyway.

But finally your best Wellbeing Warrior is yourself, you need to recognize when it’s too much. Not be afraid to admit enough is enough. Put planning, pen, laptop, phone down. Leave the washing, ironing, tidying, clearing up or whatever other task it is that takes you away from listening to your voice, hearing what it is telling you. Then acting on what needs to be done.

I have found my Wellbeing warriors, I have small select group who know my struggles, I  call them friends, who I trust to be honest with me as I am with them. But most of all I am now being honest with myself. Now it is time to start to fight. I want to put wellbeing at the front of everything I do, not just professionally but personally. I will not let my wellbeing become second place again and neither should you.

Are you ready to be a Wellbeing Warrior? Look us up. #Teacher5aday, #wellbeingsuperheros. #womensEd, #Nurture1516 write, stand-up be heard, before it’s too late and we are another front page headline. Make 2016 your Wellbeing year.

2015 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2015 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 1,300 times in 2015. If it were a cable car, it would take about 22 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

#Nurture1516

ChocoTzar has started us off again this year with a fantastic 10 for 10 for her Nurture this year and I was very honoured to be mentioned in her blog and it is those new friendships that have blossomed so much this year that have made 2015 such a great year. So in her lead I will go for 10 and 10 if I can manage it.

2015.

  1. Family is still complete, after one heart attack (Dad), one major hospital visit for myself which resulted in a three week break from school and another three week break from school just recently. Plus a major burns issue with Alex and for once Charlotte seems to have stayed out of the wars and only required crutches once this year. So not too bad I’d say. Plus 96 year old Nan is still with us, so am grateful.
  2. Charlotte and I got to go away on a fantastic holiday courtesy of my amazingly generous friend Sally and we visited Turkey for a week at the end of August. She knew just what I needed and as ever was there when I needed her. She is one of those special friends who you can always rely on no matter how long its been since you’ve seen each other.
  3. After another couple of rejections including a major one at Dawlish I finally got a new job, although this has meant I have left Dawlish. So now this January I really am starting a new.
  4. I organised and ran the Teachmeet Pick N Mix Dawlish and the incredible Vic Goodard came down and gave the most inspirational keynote speech and I can’t thank him enough, it was also attended by a wonderful Julia Skinner and her fabulous jet lag, Christa Hazell and Mark Anderson, who without all of them I think my panic would have taken over and severe melt down would have ensued.
  5. July saw me say an emotional goodbye to not only my tutor group but to my tremendous 12 girls, who used to hang out in my lab every lunch time and regale me with the school gossip. They turned out to be an amazing group of young people who did themselves proud and we had a fabulous night at prom.
  6. Results day was also another great time. My triple science Biology excelled again and I am so proud of their mammoth hard work and commitment to their learning and to all my other students who achieved so well and managed to get on to the courses they wanted. I wish them all well for their futures. I miss them all.
  7. Eldest teen had a very rocky start to the year with an escalation of his troubles, however this has seen some closure this last week, and we are now hoping this will see an end to his troubles and hopefully 2016 will hold a brighter hope for him.
  8. I got to host a workshop at the fantastic uncoference that was WomensEd. I was so nervous and out of my comfort zone but what a buzz. This incredible eclectic group of passionate, committed, inspiring women to many to mention are working tirelessly to raise awareness about women in leading in education. I was humbled to be considered but realised that I could actually talk about something else other than science teaching. Who knew! (Well they did!)
  9. I spent a couple of lovely days with @rlj1981 and her super boys this summer and what a laugh we had these simple pleasures mean so much and thank you for the invite, I had a blast.
  10. Finally Twitter remains a source of support in times of conflict, dark days, tension. Inspiration when its lacking. Laughs when I need them and most of all friendships that I never knew could develop from virtual in to reality and I marvel at how stronger these get as the months pass and how lucky I am to know so many of you on a more than personal basis. I’m not going to name names, but thank you for being part of my life. You enrich me, tolerate me, laugh and tell me it straight when I need it. Thank you for 2015.

2016

  1. My first priority this year has to be to listen to my body more. I tried last year but failed as the end of the year showed. I did get better at it but this year I must DO.
  2. No more burning the oil at both ends, I need to set time limits and if it doesn’t get done then it doesn’t get done.
  3. Walk, walk, walk, the spinning went away, difficult went you can’t feel the left side of your body, but walking I can manage. Need to set target steps every day, 10,000 isn’t it. So there it is in black and white.
  4. New Job……. so much to do…………. Prioritise…. work out what is the departments, then the school priority; then look at what is achievable in the first term.  As far as that goes I won’t know till I get there. But for me I think, no I know the key will be RELATIONSHIPS. Build those and everything else will stem from that.
  5. On that I need to employ filter much more and not allow my ‘WTF’ face to show. Has been a bit of a problem this last term in meetings!! ( But people are sooo stupid sometimes)
  6. Book my massages and keep to them.
  7. Keep Charlotte focused and revising no matter how hard and stressful with me she or it gets, we have to get through to the end, it will be worth it. She will thank me ….. I hope.
  8. Write more, I wrote lots when I was sick and found it really helped. But now I need do more deeper thinking, I feel the need to challenge myself with my writing. Could be interesting. I have more to say, probably not relevant to anyone else but who knows.
  9. Remember to keep in touch with people, I get so insular sometimes when I am on my own, my shadow who hasn’t completely gone can get very big and I need to make more effort to step outside, visit, get in the car, travel up the road a few junctions to see my friends.
  10. Finally be courageous, be kind, laugh, smile and dance more.

Bring on 2016.

 

 

 

Still hiding in the shadows!

CQYYrmCWgAAta-Q

It was at the end of the summer term that the amazing Keziah Fetherstone made the call for people to come forward to volunteer to be part of the WomensEd unconference’  that would take place in October. Me, being me, thought “oh I’ll help out” they’ll get me handing out lanyards, or showing people where the toilets are, I’ll get to go to this amazing event, listen to the likes of Jill Berry, Sue Cowley, Jules Daulby, Sameena Choudry, and the many others who would be presenting throughout the day. Never in a million years did I put myself in that category.

Yet during the summer, I received an email, asking if I’d like to lead a session on Confident Leaders, well ‘ blow me down with a feather’ as Popeye would say. I emailed back somewhat stunned, just to check that Jules Daulby and Hannah Wilson had asked the right person to present, they were adamant that they would like me to do something. So that being said, I picked myself up off the floor and thought about my role as a ‘Confident Leader’

How did I fit this title? What had I done in the short time in my career that gave me the credibility to talk to others about be a ‘Confident Leader’ when so many times I felt less than confident and started many conversations with others both above and on the same level with the words “What do I know I’m only just a teacher…..”

But out of conversations with Hannah and Rachel Jones an idea took shape and on Saturday 3rd October, a delayed train ride and a run down Victoria Street, London, I arrived at Microsoft Offices, all shiny chrome and clean, and here I was all shiny with sweat and sticky hands, oh well off to a great start, no time for nerves I guess.

My session was called Leading from the Shadows and as per usual I was convinced that no one would attend as who would want to hear me speak about something so vague but to my surprise and terror I had a full house and more due to another cancelled session including several heads (no pressure then)!

I started with recounting something some one said to me a couple of days early that struck a chord with how easy it is to destroy someones confidence with a passing comment and not even realise the impact that might have on another.

I was discussing my plans for the weekend in the photocopying room when another colleague was there and she said ” Why are you going to a conference to talk about leadership when you aren’t even in a position of leadership?….”

I think many teachers think that they aren’t in roles of leadership but we all are in someway or another hence we are IN THE SHADOWS, sometimes not being noticed, or not noticing ourselves how we maybe taking on different leadership roles. Because we aren’t following a traditional route, or don’t have a traditional title to go with the role we play on a daily basis.

We had a fabulous discussion about what leadership looked like in the shadows and why it often isn’t recognised by either ourselves or our middle or senior leaders.

The questions I’d like you to think about are:-

  • If they don’t and are happy to stay where they are how can you support them in what they are doing to ensure they don’t fee under valued or burn out or over burdened?
  • What are you doing to nurture them if they want to move up?
  • How do you recognise them?
  • Who are your shadow leaders?
  • Where is leadership in the shadows happening in your school in the classroom, department, wider community of the school?
  • Nancy Gedge  @nancygedge has written a lovely blog on this very thing Never Ending Laundry.

We then discussed how does it feel when you step up to cover a temporary position like long term cover, maternity, sickness and then you return to your normal position,

  • How do you manage that transition?
  • How do you lead the hand over of classes, responsibility,
  • How do you deal with the change in the status quo especially if they appoint someone into the role that you were doing?

With finally the last two aspects of the session,

  • How do you confidently manage up leadership, which sometimes we need to do? Often a tricky one and can put us in a difficult position.

Then if we are looking for promotion or a move-

  • How do we demonstrate our confidence in the light and out of the shadows in interview and on our applications when it hasn’t been a traditional situation? This is where we have to keep journals and notes of what we do and the impact it has, be it qualitative or quantitative data all is equally valid.

My session ended well, with some great feedback and it lead beautifully in to Summer Turners session on impostor syndrome which is exactly what I felt while delivering my session.

I attended some amazing sessions, listened, absorbed and all the while the overwhelming feeling I constantly got was that I was not JUST a teacher, I was more than that.

I do know things, I read, I understand, I question. I have a right to be heard when I feel I have something to say. I should question policy when I think it affects the learning of the pupils in my class. I should be confident in my ability to stand up for what I see is the right. I will be a role model for not just the young women in my class but the young men who need to see that it is OK to be a strong and opinionated but with a clear and sound basis to your argument, that is articulate and based on knowledge not just media hype.

I will push to be heard when all around me are shouting me down. But still no one listens. I am a lone voice.

Yet I sit here still worried, will I come up to the mark on Monday when I have SLT into to observe me for my performance management with their clip board and tick list.  I comply when they issue the list of things they want us to do to meet the OFSTED criteria because they think its what is right for the school.

So once again, I shrink back into the shadows, close my door and lead from my classroom, hoping to influence from the sphere I know I can, in the hope that the lives I touch will be improved and will see that they can be more confident and that they don’t have to hide in the shadows, that they have a voice and that they can be heard.

Thank you #WomensED.

I AM CONFIDENT LEADER, just not quite out of the shadows yet.

media55 20397_20120723_125437_never-fear-shadows

Nurture 14/15 Review

believe-you-canImage credit (http://www.thehiyl.com/2015/01/believe-you-can.html)

It being that time when the year is way past half over and after @ChocoTzar encouraged us to review our previous year and focus on 5 things for the year of 2015, its now time to review how we are doing. So here goes.

I want to say goodbye to my companion in the shadows. 

He is still lurking but he is much further in the distance and luckily it hasn’t effected work in any fashion which is good, in fact work became the my sanctuary. The wonderful Julia Skinner finishes her emails with ‘ Not every day is a good day but there is good in every day’ and I have adopted this as a mantra I use and it’s a great one to keep in the front of my mind. Still a work in progress but much improved.

Again the work life balance is always an issue, Exercise really took a back seat this year so far as I was seriously ill in February which resulted in a phased return to work but this did result in a better focus on balance and thanks to the #teacher5aday initiative I really have focused on making in roads to my own well being and long may that continue.

Plus yesterday I climbed back on a bike for the first time and managed to ride 12 km and can walk today so a result. Sadly the weight didn’t stay off!

I also want to be more available for Charlotte as she is in year 10, mmm this one has been difficult, Jack once again has featured heavily in life again with some interesting life choices which seem to overshadow everything. However I have made sure that she is at the center of my focus and this has resulted in her pushing the boundaries herself! So now as we move towards GCSE’s we are in for stormy waters I think but no backing down now.

I want to make sure that my next teachmeet at Dawlish goes off with a bang so save the date for Monday 2nd March 2015 for some #TMPicknMix. We are very lucky to have the amazing Vic Goddard to be our keynote this year.  This was a huge success and thank you to all who took part and supported me in this with their presentations, words of advice and encouragement, and videos, and of course Vic Goddard whose keynote was heartfelt, honest and brutal nothing I wouldn’t expect from such an inspiring leader.

On the back of that I want to attend and present more this year at Teachmeets, Pedagoos and TLT’s having attended all three last year. It pushes me out of my comfort zone and I learn more from these events than I do from other formalised CPD. Well have already done a lot of that with #PedagooLondon, #TMDevon, #TMOkehampton. I have also attended #Northern Rocks and #TLT14, and will be presenting at #PedagooSouthwest and incredibly at #WomenEd under the Confident Leader Strand although as yet not sure what I’ll be saying. This last event is the one that will challenge me the most but I’m ready to push beyond and maybe find a new voice.

My tutor group have been with me since I started at Dawlish in year 8 and they are year 11 now and I want to make sure that they all leave in the summer happy with their achievements, for some it will mean making it through a whole week at school, for others it will be the receipt of a string of A’s, but for all of them I hope they remember me with fondness and madness. I hope that I can be the quiet in the storm for them this year as pressure at home and in class builds, I want to provide an oasis where they can come and chill, cry, laugh and eat chocolate as each and every one has touched my heart in a positive way. I feel I have achieved at least a small part of this and now we wait for the results, it was traumatic for me, I couldn’t believe how much a hole they left in my day once they went.

But now I have a lovely new Year 7 tutor group who at first I was nervous about having to deal with. However having met them, I am excited by the prospect of getting to nurture and mold these new secondary school children and having the impact on their lives that maybe I did on the last lot.

Finally I want to be a better me both teacher and person, as earlier stated,  However I do want to have more of an impact in the teaching and learning with in a school not just in my subject, so in order to do that I need to be the best me I can be; so think, another year of practice and risk will help. Continuing to work on this, practice makes perfect and I’m listening, learning, reading, reflecting all in the hope of improving.

I’d like to play a bigger role in the success of Dawlish Community College but not sure what that will look like,  maybe that will mean I will have to leave and in doing so I will be looking for that next step. The bigger role at Dawlish hasn’t worked out. Watch this space.

So for next term to the end of the year what to do?

  • Help the department remain level as we transition with new head and second in department as they find their feet.
  • Support my students to be the best learners they can be.
  • Develop and reflect on my pedagogy to make sure that I’m continually improving.
  • Push myself beyond the comfort zones, experiment, take risks, learn, fail.
  • Make time for family and friends, share, explore, have fun and laugh, look for the good, as I do believe we still have some tough stuff to get through and with Charlotte doing GCSEs in 2016 we will need to be stronger together.

So there you have it. Have you reviewed yours?

#Blimage-Blank Pages

CLAzhTbWEAAuSwh

I remember with fondness Calvin and Hobbes, my Mum has always been a Daily Express reader and this was the cartoon I would read in the morning when I was at home doing my A levels, I liked the idea of a little boy and his imaginary friend, who he would get into exciting adventures with. Although these often turned out to be scrapes and he ended up in trouble.

Yet looking at the images now from an adult perspective, Calvin is a lonely chap, who has no friends and relies on his imaginary playmate to keep him company as the adults in his world seem oblivious to his incredible imagination.

Rachel @rlj1981 challenged me to this #blimage and I had to think about this for a week or so; While I commenced operation house deep clean this image floated around. Two options sprang to mind.

The Blank Page. Version 1

I think the prospect of a blank white piece of A4 is scary for many of us as adults, I am a sporadic blogger, with a small number of readers. I worry about my grammar, punctuation, whether what I have to say is relevant, waffle or just the ramblings of a crazy woman, will people read, do I want people to read?

Those first few words are hard to get down, I need a prompt, a stimulus, a nudge, encouragement, someone to show me the way. But then as so often once I start, the words flow, momentum starts and my confidence grows and I fill the page and more often than not, sometimes its ramblings and I need editing, especially when it’s educationally based and I’m trying to make a point.

So if this is how I feel, how do my students feel?  when faced with that blank, white sheet of A4, and told to answer that 6 mark question, pull, together all your knowledge on a topic, use your connectives, account for all the marks, make it make sense, check your spelling and punctuation, show the examiner that you understand, it all counts.

NO PRESSURE, plus you only have about 10 minutes to do this.

Oh and by the way no allowance for the fact that your dyslexic and that you can’t access the vocabulary because there is so much to read, and you’re not that quick a reader, so that means that you don’t understand what the question is asking you in the first place.

All they see is the blank page.

Is it any wonder so many of the students leave this question searching for those they can answer on the exam and come back to it in the last minutes of the exam and scribble something down at the end hoping that it will do.

It’s times like this when I watch these pupils struggling. Questioning what is the point of this? That I want to be Hobbes, throw my arms around them, cuddle them, tell them to ‘snap out of it,’ and allow them to walk away, because in the real world they won’t have to do it from memory and face a blank page, they will have resources to help, people to guide them, exemplars, work colleagues they can turn to when the report is due and their not sure what to do next, spell checkers, grammar checkers, editors. They won’t be faced with the blank piece of A4  ALL ALONE.

What do I say to them to make it better, how do we help them?

The Blank Page Version 2

This version is a slightly more upbeat version, this is where I was looking at the new year about to begin, I am going to be a Year 7 tutor with an interesting tutor group, with a mix of new students about to start their journey through secondary school and now they are blank pages waiting for us to cover them in knowledge that we feel they need to know.

Or are they?

They all will come with knowledge and baggage and I look at Hobbes, their imaginary friend as their baggage.

They’ve already been in the school community for 6 years, some have been in nursery before that, they’ve worked out that there is a group of kids who are smarter!! than them, cooler, sportier, sing better, get the lead roles in the plays, get picked first for everything, are the loud ones, the naughty ones, the bullies, the shy ones, the funny ones, the jokers, the computer nerds, the slightly odd ones, the pretty girls, the jocks, the list is endless. This isn’t the groupings that we give them, this is the grouping they give themselves, we haven’t even started with our groupings, the X band the Y band, A1 or B5, Higher or Foundation, GCSE or Btec, Triple or Double, those on the SEND register and the Higher Achievers, the middle ability boys, the pupils premium, the looked after pupils, the lists are endless.

How do we make sure that this year 7 is a blank page a clean start, a fresh go? Now is a time to redefine themselves, if they were the naughty boy, it’s time to ‘snap out of it’ reinvent themselves. Try something exciting, be different. If they really want that lead role, go for it, get up there, ignore the fear, sing like you’ve never sung before, who knows what will happen.

This is my chance to help these blank sheets of pupils find their Calvin Superhero – Stupendous Man

StupendousMan

(http://vignette1.wikia.nocookie.net/superheroes/images/6/65/StupendousMan.jpg/revision/latest?cb=20140709175123)

I want them to take their blank page and rewrite their own story, leaving behind the baggage of primary school, not leaving behind their imaginary friend but changing him into their new improved self. To support them on their incredible adventure towards adulthood, without the labels, that they and we are so quick to give them, they are all unique and special in each and every way and I as their tutor need to remind them every day of this so that they remember.

That this is their chance to clean the slate, start afresh where nobody need know what went before and there is only forward not just on their first day, but every day they come to school.

So there you have it, Look for the #Blimage see the image and write yours.

#Teacher5aday Update

image

Review of the last few months.

School focus was for a wall for teachers to post their wellbeing achievements to. Unfortunately my teachers didn’t really get on board. Our department was quite fractured from a tough year of monitoring and no amount of positivity from me seemed to change this.

#Exercise

This unfortunately took a dive .  I got very ill and will not regale you,  I’m still suffering with some of the symptoms and medications are still being tweaked.  To top it all a lumbar puncture  gave me a bad back so excuses aside exercise became rather difficult .  However I have still not walked although not as much as I wanted .  This one is still a project in motion.

#Notice

This One has been very successful for me I notice now have very tired I still get and do stop. Sometimes even going for a sleep when I get home at 5 o’clock, not waking up till seven-ish. Got to love a power nap.

Meditation is now less guided but still there. I’m more aware of the impact on its effect on reducing my stress and its impact on me especially due to my illness in Feb! Home life can be up and down but I’m managing with it better.

#Connect

#TMPicknMix was a huge success and a massive thank you to those who supported me through the process. The list is endless and if I name people I’ll miss seonethen will feel bad  but you know I couldn’t have done it without you.

I have since connected with #PedagooLondon where they ever beautiful and talented Helene invited me to do a workshop with some of the great and good of the education world . I was humbled, also scared to be back in the saddle but loved every minute of it so and the ever so supportive @MartynReah to see me through and then once again surprised as he asked for my resources.

I connected and presented at #TMTavistock and TMOkehampton after receiving an invite from @JoPayne and got my groove  on with @Aknill at #NorthernRocks so brilliant time has been had at the end of this summer term and what’s more I have agreed to connect and present at #pedagooplymouth in September, so really am back in my stride after a bit of an absence. I’ve found my voice again.

What’s more I got to spend some fabulous time at @Betsysalt and @Chocotzar while at northern rocks so thank you for love and laughter.. Plus @cristahazel for the mega long drive up. Epic on a Friday

The connection in the department waned a bit after the appointment of the new head and second of department (that clearly wasn’t me – cryptic bit last time ) . I took that quite hard and if it wasn’t for my Twitter connections I think it would have taken me longer to get over it than it did .

This has had the biggest effect on me this year in what emotionally, personally, and professionally has been my toughest year yet. So thanks to all who’ve I’ve connected with some of whom have been at all sorts of times of the day and night.

#Volunteer

I did the assistant principal interview and volunteer for challenge partners although they didn’t use me and I did volunteer to be part of the working party CPD mark, which we achieved on 23 July involving a mammoth team effort led by the incredible Nann Stimpson which involved a day of Skype interviews a massive amounts of form filling in about our CPD program across the whole of the school.

Unfortunately due to my visit to hospital I missed the 24 hour concert but I did volunteer to help out at the little shop of horrors end of year performance and wow what a time we had the kids were incredible.

I’ve also volunteered to take part in the WomenEd conference in October in conjunction with the amazing @Chocotzar and the team. I’m not sure what she’ll have me doing but I’m sure her and the team will find me something suitable. Handing out flyers or programs or some such thing.

#Learn

I have learnt a lot about my own resilience and  my capability to keep going in the face of some pretty major adversity.

I have learnt deep down I’m a pretty happy person you can find the sunshine even on the darkest day. Now I just have to learn to take a compliment as I still don’t do that very welI.

I have found my #wellbeingsuperhero and will continue to listen to my inner voice as I start my next adventure in 2016.

I will take teacher5aday to my new school as it will be vital to my success, as I feel that without this focus this year and continued reminders I don’t think I’d still be teaching.

So how are you doing with your teacher5aday?

Northern Rocks 2015

NRocks

As a southerner I sat and watched the tweets stream through for Northern Rocks last year and was amazing by the incredible energy and positivity that exploded from my phone and the ORRsome singing at the end. So when tickets were released late last year I was encouraged by Crista Hazell to come along I dutifully purchased my ticket and thought nothing more of it. Until about a month before when a buzz started again thorough Twitter and the reality of a 6-7 hour car journey loomed on the horizon.

So Friday arrived and luckily I only had to drive the two hours to Gloucester after seeing my year 11s into their final science exam. I met up with Crista and another car full of eager not so sothern teachers and we set off on the road trip from hell. Through torrential rain with two coffee stops on the way eventually reaching our destination. Crista doing a Stirling job.

I got to share a room with @Chocotzar and @betsysalt two amazing Bristol heads whose conversations about what they do on a daily basis leave me speechless. We made our way to the bar where we met up with other northern rockers Rachel Orr, recognised by her shoes of course, Rachel Rossiter, Tim Taylor and many others who my tired brain couldn’t remember. Conversations were started like old friends even though we’d only just met, this is the testament to the power of Twitter. “It was well late miss” when we retired.

Saturday started with an amazing panel of speakers who discussed questions that even though I’ve only been teaching for four years as a late comer to the profession I am already relating to. The struggle between accountability and performance. Creative arts versus traditional subjects, age, OFSTED, curriculum changes. All these were delivered with insight, passion and a real belief that we need to remember why we are here and what our real role is. To teach.

I attended four workshops, who will have been blogged about by the presenters themselves and some much more eloquent bloggers than me, but will include links to videos and presentation.

Martin Illingworth @MartinIllingworth

Presentation

Rory Gallagher @EddieKayshun

Staff Room Blog on NRocks2015

Blog

Chris Waugh @ Edutronic_Net

Presentation

Website/Blog the reason he exisits

John Tomsett @johntomsett

Blog

Presentation

The final debate of the day was between Stephen Harford from OFSTED and Mary Bousted, I felt this was even and well balanced. Who won, well I’ll keep that to myself.

My overriding takeaways from the event is about the connections we make with other educators who remind us what the most important part of our job is.

We are teachers of children who are looking to us to provide an environment where they can flourish, struggle, fail, succeed, expand thier mind,  test their meetle, shrink and hide when they need, buck the rules but realise that they are there for a reason, ask them to look beyond their room, home, town, push them to be more than they ever thought they could be. We are not there to tick a box, fill a basket, meet a requirement of some arbitrary organisation sent i to to inspect us. Because if we are doing the first things then the rest will take care of itself.

I have reclaimed  pedagogical techniques that I can use in my classroom now that will make a difference to my learners today. I have shared over various forms of beverages ideas for teaching, from differentiation, to challenging pupil premium students, to raising expectations of gifted and talented, to the merits of curriculum change that I have no influence over. Plus I have listened bizarre for me I know to wiser more experienced teachers talk of their solutions, struggles and how it’s the same for them.

Northern Rocks reminded me that I am a teacher first and I have come away with some real pedagogical strategies that I can implement straight away into my teaching that will make a real difference to my pupils.

The connections that we make with like minded educators at these events help us to remember that we are responsible in ensuring we prepare our pupils for a future.

I am renewed in my belief that I’m not just a biology teacher but my job is to stretch and challenge my pupils, encourage them to test their meetle, fail, succeed, push them beyond their limits so their brains hurt and they moan about it being too hard, remind them that I have an unwavering belief in them that they can be the best them they can be, support them to have opinions even if they are different to others. Challenge the status quo in a mature and well argued fashion. Be creative, innovative, numerate, literate, articulate. Be respectful, kind, aware humans. But above all be themselves, individuals who all have a potential to fulfil no matter thier start and finally a true sense of themselves.

Ultimately the North does rock and roll ( thanks to David Cameron) with apologies for my bad jiving (blushing). It was worth the long drive up and thanks to @chocotzar for the return drive back to Gloucester.

Keep Rockin’