On the 21st of May I posted a tweet explaining that I was contemplating bring back #pedagoohamsphire after a year off and some enforced hibernation.
To be honest it didn’t take much encouragement and on September the 11th I’m looking forward to hosting the next incarnation of #pedgaoohampshire this time at The Hayling College.
Hopefully by the time we get to the 2nd weekend of the new term we will have a clearer view of what life will be like in Step 4 and now that the venue is on Hayling Island we have our own microclimate and if necessary we will be able to run most of the sessions outside and take advantage of our extensive grounds.
Some people are considering making a weekend of it. The UK’s number 1 Kite Surfing and music festival takes place over the weekend https://www.kitesurfingarmada.co.uk/ and there are a number of hotels locally if you need any advice about where to stay.
Kristian Still @kristianstill
Teacher, Leader, Headteacher, Coach and Researcher – in that order. With twenty-four years education experience, the last two years have been predominantly spent teaching full-time, whilst developing, researching and road-testing the principles of Successive Relearning (Retrieval Practice + Spacing) at a multicultural, fully comprehensive school in Southampton.
Successive Relearning (Retrieval Practice + Spacing) – “What it is? Why it works. How to use it.”
The session will share with you what Successive Relearning is (and what it is not). If you are interested in leveraging the “unequivocal” Agarwal et al., (2020) learning gains of retrieval practice – Successive Relearning will be of interest to you. If you are interested in helping learners retain declarative knowledge or vocabulary in your classroom and school wide – the session will be of interest to you.
Why it works – truth is, even the Cognitive Psychologists and researchers are, as yet, unclear as to why testing improves learning and long-term retention. I can only offer you a summary as to why retrieval practice is only one of two learning techniques rated by Dunlosky et al. (2013) as having ‘high utility’ for classroom practice. Why Dr Sean Kang recommends that we “re-encounter, revisit, review the information again and again.”
What we can explore thoroughly is how to use Successive Relearning and the boundaries of its effective use in the classroom. How Successive Relearning boosts students’ learning of course content by at least 10%, Janes et al., (2020).
Expect to get hands on. Download RememberMore from your app store. Group code: demoschool
Chris Eyre @chris_eyre
BIOG : Chris Eyre is a part time teacher of Religious Studies, a senior examiner, writer and CPD trainer. He has over 20 years teaching experience and was, for a number of years, Head of Humanities at a sixth form college. He is the author of Religious Studies A level textbooks and revision guides as well as ‘the Elephant in the Staffroom’, a 2016 book on teacher wellbeing
OUTLINE : Title -” Does this come with an off switch?” (AKA 50 Elephants are plenty!) A conversation around some of the key things learned since writing my wellbeing book ‘the Elephant in the Staffroom’ and my most popular blog #50isplenty. Where are we now nationally in terms of teacher wellbeing? What has Covid taught us? What simple things can we do to help ourselves? Practical takeaways for the busy teacher
On Wednesday I took my youngest daughter to work to give her a break from home but also so my wife could go into her school to support the GCSE Dance keyworker students to complete some practical work. My other daughters stayed at home for a couple of hours to keep on working on their Microsoft Teams lessons.
When I reread this paragraph it sounds like I am talking about an alternative life!
If I close my eyes as I sit here on a Saturday morning, I can still convince myself that all is “normal” outside the four walls of our lovely family home.
When we arrived at school I set Iris up at a desk and started my lessons and meetings. Dutifully she completed her work from 8.30 – 11.30, without a break. Her classroom was my newly acquired office in the Computing Block, next door to where our key worker students are located. The office has two windows, an upgrade from my previous space but is not the most exciting venue for a 9-year-old.
Iris, however, worked hard and completed some Art and English. This was mainly self-directed and she even refrained from spinning on the large office chair!
Since that start of Covid 19 we have worked hard as a family to find a balance between home and school life. The girls know that we are dedicated professionals and will go the extra mile for the students in our care. The eldest two now go to the same school as their mum and see from both sides of life how much she puts into her job and them.
Since then, if I’m honest, my first instinct has been to think about work.
To ensure the students and staff are as safe as possible and to limit the impact of this pandemic on the life chances of all involved. I was keen to get back to work with some newly acquired antibodies to look after the key worker students in April 2020 and on reflection I have only had 2 weeks off in August last year when we went on our annual pilgrimage to Burgh Island. Even then I was recruiting volunteers to take part in the #diarytoolkit #teacher5aday collaboration to try and help other teachers with their wellbeing from September to Christmas.
The final nail in any family time in 2020 was the debacle that was Mass Testing over Christmas. The final tutor session in the last lesson of the year was not spent with the students and staff enjoying our virtual rendition of the 12 Days of Christmas or the Panto we had created on line for them but watching a Mass Testing webinar like I was in a chapter of “1984” or “Brave New World”.
Year 11 PPEs were planned in January and in order to help the students get back in time I organised for 54 volunteers to help test 150 of them twice in the first week back in 2021. How ridiculous does that sound now!
To be able to virtually train volunteers to complete the appropriate certification to act as a processor or test assistant is how I spent my Christmas break with a sprinkle of track and trace.
Back to Wednesday and at 11.30 Iris and I went for a walk to get some fresh air.
I have worked at my current school longer than any other in my career but for some reason Iris had not had the tour. Go figure!
I showed her the classrooms and we met the teachers and staff who were in and we returned back to my office for lunch. Iris had tried to turn the extra computer on in the office whilst I had been focused on trying to engage my Year 9 (Set 8) with their PSHE lesson. It turned out there was no hard drive to go with the two screens and it had taken me a morning to realise.
She had now sat at my desk, found her school website independently and over lunch we organised her work for the next week. This was probably the first undisturbed slot of quality time I had given her during her year of home learning.
I spoke to a male colleague about my epiphany yesterday and he had a similar experience to share.
Despite my best intentions last year to help the girls get set up with their home learning I realised I had failed. If it was part of my appraisal of my performance last year, I would honestly reflect that things need to change urgently.
My in-laws are both ex educational professionals. They have a wealth of experience and knowledge. This week I drew on that and other wise sages to help me process my ongoing challenges as a DHT in a smallish secondary in East Hampshire. They describe schools in a different way from me. They are dispassionate and often make me think. The view from outside can be very different.
I have encourage #diarytoolkiters to pledge this year and also suggested they use a checklist to develop some healthy habits.
So now it’s my turn.
#connect – family, family, family. It is time to readdress the balance. On my headstone I hope it doesn’t say he worked too hard and forgot about the family.
#notice – The garden will my sanctuary this year. We made a good start last year and the foundations have been laid. Next we will be planting, planting, plantig!
#learn and #volunteer – These two go together.
Volunteering as part of Havant Hockey Club for the last three years has helped us meet new friends and settle into a new area. My u12 girls may get a little bit of play in March / April but I’ve decided to commit to them until they reach u18s. They are a fantastic bunch of young people supported by the most amazing group of parents so watch out @enaglandhockey we are coming for you. Coaching courses are my next step after I complete my online sessions for coaches and managers delivered by the great team at Havant over this lockdown period. Thank you Alex and Peter.
#exercise – #runeveryday2021 and @thebodycoach are for me this year. A slow and steady approach to a year of injury free exercise. So far so good. When the restrictions lift I will also be back to golf. A mile up the road is my course. I’ve signed up for 12 months. The first time in my life! Time to get into the teens with my handicap. A few lessons and lots of practice will form my plan.
My wellbeing is personal to me.
It will change as the year goes on.
Without the normal rhythms of an academic year I will need to pay special attention to how I am feeling and adjust accordingly. I am going to have the help of a coach and a great group of friends and family around me.
I am also incredibly excited about how the #diarytoolkit collaboration is developing and where we might go with it. Volunteering to help people I have realised this week fulfils me.
So if you have an idea and you would like any help then please get in touch.
Thanks for sticking with this post. I really appreciate your support.
I started my first blog with the #teacher5aday #diarytoolkit group 1 in the same way on the16.9.20.
As I sit here in my kitchen dancing along to Gok Wan’s (@therealgokwan) #SundayService on the 31.1.21, it’s confession time again.
I am still yet to start my diary!
Just like last time, I have been inspired again to keep a close eye on my hours (#50isplenty https://chriseyreteaching.wordpress.com/2016/10/29/50-is-plenty/ )and make sure that I am working hard to take as many “wellbeing multivitamins” as I can. My 50p coin is sitting on the corner of my desk and with the help of Mr Wicks (@thebodycoach) and my Run Everyday Challenge for 2021 I am making sure I am thinking about one of my five elements each day to try to focus my thoughts on the positive and keep in the present.
New research from Ohio State University https://news.osu.edu/share-your-goals–but-be-careful-whom-you-tell/ suggests that people tend to be more committed to their goals after they share them with someone who they see as “higher status,” or whose opinions they respect. Perhaps even that conversation at work or a home might make the difference this term?
I found it very useful to help me think about “what will make my boat go faster every day” or “how can I be a happier teacher” in this turbulent time. It would be great to hear some of your key questions and if the podcast helped you with your pledge and your quest to develop some healthy habits.
On Tuesday I presented at the Raising Standards Lead Networking event as part of Pixl’s new and developing offer. The event was based on responding to the needs of RSLs since September and after listening to presentations from two more RSLs the group of fifty spent time in a couple of virtual breakout spaces. This was a productive hour or so in a week that has been filled with COVID related activity. An opportunity to network with others who do the same job!
My Deliberations at My Desk
We were encouraged at the end of the sessions to consider a few ideas that we could look to develop after the session. My favourite takeaway was the idea of a virtual success fair http://www.johnhenrynewmancatholiccollege.org.uk/virtualsuccess-2020/ shared quickly at the end of our breakout session by the staff from John Henry Newman Catholic College.
We have completed our first Year 11 webinar of the year at Eggar’s in preparation for our Core PPEs this month. With two more webinars planned before Christmas we are using the skills we have developed over Lockdown to prepare some pre-recorded materials for parents and students to access about our next set of PPEs followed by a live Q and A opportunity. Using the ideas above I think it would be easy to develop the concept of a virtual success fair / festival which runs from January to June.
Assessment and Blended Learning ideas
During the other sessions I thought that following ideas might be something to consider with our curriculum leaders but along with the theme of my presentation making sure we focus on “doing less better” remains my priority.
Could we develop our use of Microsoft Teams using One Note to provide verbal feedback?
Considering our literacy plans and our use of UNLOCK could all staff use Tier 2 and Tier 3 words in all of their lessons. This could be followed up with a Microsoft forms QA with the students.
Could a structured whole class feedback approach inform assessment across year groups?
Using the example in our History department could a booklet based curriculum help with students who have to isolate and curriculum continuity?
Now that we have established a blended learning offer which has continued post lockdown could we develop nudge lists for each year group to use live data to support our intervention plans
Could weekly research briefings – based around Quest (our T and L policy) be part of our CPD offer to keep the conversations going?
As we continue to think about Assessment at Eggar’s our progress dilemma could also take a change of path? Considering the Webinar I linked to my pre presentation blog here https://martynreah.wordpress.com/2020/11/14/rsl-pixl-presentation-17-10-20/ (The Problem with Progress –https://t.co/kRgpWkhtLB) it would be interesting to see if we can create a dashboard for students based on our blended learning offer. Rather than waiting for predictions or current working grades is there a more sophisticated approach relating to our internal departmental tracking systems which we could use to help students improve their outcomes? The curriculum teams are working on rank orders and most likely grades as part of their CPD time. Linking our systems together including SENECA, GCSEPOD and a myriad of others, along with real time class based assessment data might be an approach to develop. An ongoing pre mortem rather than the reviews we have historically done post data drops and exam results.
As a standalone academy it is also vital we continue to collaborate particularly in these challenging times. The CPD offer from PIXL is fantastic. Other providers are also adapting so that as a profession we now have a Netflix style offer of on demand cpd. This is a similar approach we took to home schooling but the chance to chat informally in a formal setting cannot be underestimated, whether it be in the Great Hall in London or on zoom in my office.
PIXL have set up an event for Raising Standards Leaders (RSL) across all of their schools to come together on Tuesday the 17th of November at 3.30pm to discuss blended learning opportunities and assessment. I am really pleased to say that I have been asked to talk about the day job this time rather than a #teacher5day based presentation! I have been invited to share some of the work we have completed at Eggar’s this year and detail a few ideas we might try COVDS 19 permitting.
There are two more RSLs who will present on their blended learning offer and how they are gathering and using assessment data effectively in these different and challenging times. The thing I am most looking forward to is the opportunity to meet other RSLs, both from my region and nationally in break out rooms to discuss:
Something that they would like help with
Something they could help others with
And something they are doing for impact now that others could benefit from hearing about.
In true PIXL style I think it will be a great opportunity to connect, network and discuss the things that really matter at the moment!
This week I was also approached on twitter regarding our approach to teacher workload and wellbeing since returning to school post Lockdown 1.0. I thought I could put my #teacher5aday hat on and share what we have tried since September at school that has hopefully has been meaningful, manageable and motivating whilst considering the workload of our staff.
September – Doing Less Better
Since joining twitter over 10 years ago I have been inspired by the work of Stephen Tierney (@leadingleaner). This year on our return to school I could hear his wise words ringing in my ears.
Since September we have taken the approach of stripping as much as possible out of the calendar so that we can focus on keeping everyone safe and developing teaching and learning from behind the safety line. Personally, after lockdown, I have used the new start as an opportunity to ask some fundamental questions and consider some of the activities that in the past we might have done for the sake of it perhaps! We had a staggered return to school following advice gleaned from PIXL and over the first week we saw the return of our students and our teachers adapting to a plethora of new ways of working.
If ever there was a case of cognitive overload for all concerned then September was it in my opinion.
Our first challenge was adapting to the volume of change we had implemented as a result of the guidance we had received from the government about returning to school.
Health and Safety ruled.
One way systems, staggered starts, staggered finishes, multiple breaks / lunches along with longer lessons. Year 7 and Year 8 were based in individual classrooms, being taught in mixed ability groups, without moving from their chairs. Discussing anything progress, assessment or blended was not an option a. As a RSL my view was that there was very little point in doing anything other than helping everyone settle into their new routines and get back to school. We had to try and get over our collective shock and back into some structure and routine.
With all of these changes in mind we have focused on feedback in lessons and no data drops so far this term. Planning has become more of a collaborative process in most departments and meeting time has been handed over to departments to discuss their priorities. One of the most interesting things I reflected on after Lockdown was the lack of time we spent considering the P word, Progress. Since returning to school I have tried to limit my use of the word as well.
If ever you need to stop and think about how fixated we have all got over the all things Progress then I suggest you listen to @jpembroke (school data updates) excellent webinar ‘The Problem with Progress’ https://t.co/kRgpWkhtLB. Perhaps their is another way?
My view is that our job now is to make sense of the noise of data in school and pick carefully though what we have available to make some sense to support our students to achieve the best they can.
The PIXL Gaps and Growth programme has helped our core teams think about their curriculum. With about six and a half months to go in Year 11 this document will be what all Curriculum Leaders will be working on at Eggar’s to review our 10/10s and 9/10s.
Blended and remote learning
Homework to Home Learning (Monday / Friday)
During the first Lockdown we got off to a great start as our AHT Chris Legg helped all colleagues deliver Netflix style pre-recorded lessons from week 1 onwards. Chris and the computing team have blended their curriculum for a number of years to great success. He was very clear about the value of a clear system and routine from the start. We all set our work on Show My Homework every Monday and checked our completion rates on a Friday. Both pastoral and curriculum teams then got in touch at home to either celebrate excellent work or support those who were finding it difficult. We were inspired by other schools, particularly Research schools who responded most quickly, to improve our video based lessons. Each week we poured over the data and used our systems to ensure our students continued to learn.
To find the patterns in the noise!
GCSEPod, SENECA, Educake, My Maths and other resources all supported our delivery. We knew how every child in the school was coping with life and learning from March until August.
Home Learning to Blended Learning (Monday / Monday)
On returning to school we have continued our routines. Additional blended learning has been integrated into our curriculum. We now all check and set on a Monday / Monday cycle and we have started to use Microsoft Teams after training the staff and students during the first half term of the new year.
We have just had our first confirmed case so we will see how we cope with our next set of learning challenges.
We are entering our first data drop this moth. Year 10 and Year 11 will be given a “Most likely” grade and rank order. We have provided department with all of the vast majority of our meeting time to talk and plan this process.
In July we complete a Year 10 CAG and rank order. Our approach to the CAG filled me with pride. All teams became experts in assessment. On our return to class we have used mainly diagnostic assessment including:-
Open ended questions
Short answer quizzes
Multiple Choice questions
and Paragraph answers
All curriculum teams have developed their tracking systems to be able to complete their next set of Grades and Rank Ordering.
All of the categories below are recorded in teams and I am looking forward to the next steps of our reviews with very limited use of the P word.
More focus on the students and their learning less about feeding the system.
During this term I also managed to squeeze in an interview for a HT post. During the interview I noticed the panel frown when I explained our approach and how it was developing. Their system involved half termly data drops for all year groups. I am pleased we are heading in a different direction and perhaps on reflection I really wasn’t the “right fit” for that Academy Chain.
Again I recommend a listen to this if you haven’t yet ….(@jpembroke (school data updates) excellent webinar ‘The Problem with Progress’ https://t.co/kRgpWkhtLB).
Listening to the excellent PIXL session on low stakes testing I will be thinking about a few of these points over the next term.
You might like this list or like me you might be thinking about doing even less even better.
Next Steps for this RSL …….
Do we have tools to capture our regular active retrieval in departments?
How can we use our ongoing assessment and low stakes quizzing?
Are Teachers responding appropriately and adapting the curriculum using the DDT process
Is it well planned?
Is it interleaved or spaced?
Do we have revisiting and revising plans for all teams ? All students?
How can we change the narrative that my spec is too big? I need more time?
How do we develop our processes to interleave our Home / Blended Learning?
Do we need a curriculum policy for our low stakes testing?
How do we give more time for departments to work together?
Can we consider synoptic elements of low stakes testing? Can it be planned effectively?
Some of my reading and resources I have used this year which might help …….
PiXL Club (@PiXLclub) Our ‘Gaps and Growth’ 2020-21 package has 3 parts, all designed to help identify areas of weakness, and to strengthen knowledge in those areas. Perfect for use this term. Go to: Members Area > PiXL Strategies > Gaps & Growth to find out more. Narrated introduction PPT available. https://t.co/2nNouklyg1
PiXL Club (@pixlclub) Available to watch on PiXL TV Partner Channel now! Blended and flipped learning – best practice using @GCSEPod! Tune in when suits you to watch 30 min webinar on how schools have maximised the impact of GCSEPod during school closures. Watch here: https://t.co/R7cjJ6dOmchttps://t.co/RUgYepJE5M
Bruno Gomes (@teacherworklife)
🌟My data manager wife has now designed GCSE mock exam tracking spreadsheets with the 2019 grade boundaries (as well as 2018) for all subjects and exam boards. Find your subject in this PDF https://t.co/2G5EoobYXb to download.
Dylan Wiliam (@dylanwiliam) Just realized that I’ve never tweeted a link to the IES’s 2007 Practice Guide on “Organizing instruction and study to improve student learning”: https://t.co/VU0LJdM4hB. The checklist makes a much better placemat than most of the quick reference guides offered to teachers. https://t.co/onmAYxJvzG
Niall Alcock (@NiallAlcock)
This is a really meaty piece of work. Well worth reading if you’re i/c PPM. Fascinating predictions about schools’ closing the gap & useful collection the PPM spending plans of the top 11 schools. Thank you Dominic @KingsdownSchool https://t.co/4e8eF9yXqV
Daisy Christodoulou (@daisychristo) This was the most-disagreed-upon script in our recent primary assessment project! Out of nine possible grades, one teacher gave it the bottom grade, and another the second top! Read our blog to find out more. https://t.co/SE39OgXPHFhttps://t.co/hxGafd0UmM
Mary Myatt (@MaryMyatt) ‘Resuming the curriculum, September 2020’ Brilliant, nuanced post from @jdurran So helpful, thanks for signposting @TeacherTapp https://t.co/t0Y8jOp5zv
Replacing marking with direct feedback in the classroom not only reduces workload for teachers – it improves pupil outcomes too, according to research by the @EdDevTrust for @educationgovuk https://t.co/p1414TNlzC
HISP Research School (@HISPResearchSch) ***Blog of the Week*** Following our remote teaching webinar https://t.co/1jZBbEQLAp over the next couple of weeks teachers @HISPResearchSch will be reflecting on their experiences. First up @missmclachlan, Head of German. https://t.co/4BFAGEIWsk
With this in mind I thought it might be useful to think about the month of November in a different way. To celebrate each day and record the positives in a photograph.
A 30 day gratitude challenge based on the five elements of #teacher5aday might help deal with the challenges we face over the next month. To tick off the days in a different way.
In the Harvard study it is noted that, “Gratitude is a way for people to appreciate what they have instead of always reaching for something new in the hopes it will make them happier, or thinking they can’t feel satisfied until every physical and material need is met”. The researchers go on to explain that,”Gratitude helps people refocus on what they have instead of what they lack. And, although it may feel contrived at first, this mental state grows stronger with use and practice”.
With this research in mind for the next 30 days I challenge you to take a photo relating to the themes listed below and tweet with the hashtags #teacher5aday and #photo. This alongside a tweet about your #3goodthings might be contrived at first but could improve our collective mental state growing it stronger with use and practice.
In their most recent update it is suggested that, “Rather than encouraging a completely novel set of behaviours, the outcomes of a campaign of this kind are more concerned with increasing the time people spend in activities known to enhance wellbeing”. Perhaps by allocating more of your time to your wellbeing is part of the answer this month and beyond?
The ideas above are part of the #livethankfulcampaign.
Good luck with November and hopefully you will enjoy seeing everyone’s photography based on being grateful.
I was never the ‘sporty one’ at school. I wasn’t picked first for games and I didn’t win any medals on Sports Day. Basically, I didn’t enjoy sport because I was made to feel as though it wasn’t for me – that I wasn’t quite the right shape; that I didn’t ‘fit’ in.
So, with that in mind, it’s hardly surprising that me and exercise haven’t always had the easiest relationship. It’s only as I’ve got older and started to prioritise my own self-care that I’ve taken another look at exercise. What I’ve realised is that exercise doesn’t have to ‘be’ anything. It doesn’t mean lycra, gym memberships or personal bests (although it can, of course); rather, it encompasses what you want it to contain. For me, going for a jog during lunchtime enables me to move my body, listen to a podcast and have more energy for work in the afternoon. I feel better for having done it, but I don’t always enjoy the process. What I do really enjoy is a disco in the living room with the music turned up loudly and our family jumping around, or a game of chase in the park with my sons. So maybe that is what exercise is about: combining movement with joy for short bursts of time that leave you feeling better than you did before.
Indeed, exercise can be another way of berating ourselves – a job that didn’t get ticked off on the ‘to do’ list – but it shouldn’t be that; it should be an opportunity for us to be kind to ourselves, to revel in the marvels of the human body and top up our multivitamins.
Maybe we need to go back to our younger years, let go of expectations, and dance with a different song.
This Thursday, I’ll be inviting you to join me in a #slowchat about exercise. We’ll discuss:
What exercise brings you joy? If exercise sounds like too much, think about movement.
What exercise did you like to do when you were a child?
What are you going to do this week that will allow you to move your body in a fun way and bring your body joy?
As teachers, you’ll fully appreciate the value of learning as an important part of life and a great life skill. You might not – however – have known the full range of ways in which learning positively impacts on our well-being? Research shows that learning:
Increases our resilience, as we adapt to the challenges that learning presents;
Develops our perseverance as we solve problems and keep going;
Builds our self esteem as we learn new skills;
Helps our brain to have the novelty it loves, and which enables it to thrive by making new connections and distinctions;
Enables the practice of setting goals, which is related to adult learning in particular, and has been strongly linked with higher levels of well-being. This is because the goals are usually self-generated, approach goals, and linked with our personal values;
Can impact our sense of purpose, as we’re taking steps towards achieving a goal that’s meaningful to us; and
Can improve our sense of life satisfaction, hope and optimism.
This research doesn’t just apply when we are learning huge, time-consuming things – simple things like learning to cook a new dish can make us feel good.
So how do we practically apply the principle of ‘learning’ to wellbeing in school?
I recently recorded a podcast with Patrick Ottley O’Connor about how he applied ‘learning’ in his role as Headteacher at Westhoughton High School in Bolton.
He spoke of two specific ways he used it in leadership:
Establishing expectations. As this is a new school for him, he spent time getting to know the expectations of the staff and creating time and space for them to do the same; to establish expectations of each other, of him and of ‘us’. Setting clear expectations helps create a culture of wellbeing. It takes time and curiosity to ask good questions, listen and learn.
Build relationships. In his first week at Westhoughton, Patrick set out to actively build strong relationships. To understand his staff’s hopes, fears and dreams. To learn how staff were feeling about things that matter to them. Among many other strategies, staff perception questionnaires helped him learn and understand what staff want, “not what I think they want”. This informed important decision making and communication and help build a culture of wellbeing. “It means we can respond from an informed place – ‘you said, so this is what we’ve done or are doing’. You have to be foolish not to listen.”
Think about your life right now. Depending on your life stage and what your circumstances are, consider whether it’s the right time to learn something formal (for example, a higher qualification leading to a senior leadership role) or less formal, like learning a new hobby, cooking a new dish or a new sport. What can you learn about yourself or others, today?
After the success of the previous seven #teacher5aday #slowchats we return during October half term 2020 to plan for national #teacher5aday week in December and celebrate how we survived the most challenging half term so far.
The daily chats will be the starting point for our week of wellbeing that we think will be so needed as we approach Christmas this year. Each host will share one of the elements of #teacher5aday along with their views of how to incorporate some ideas into you personal wellbeing survival pack. The New Economics Foundation have shated their ideas about Mental Health and Hope during Covid 19 https://neweconomics.org/2020/10/mental-health-and-hope which has provided some inspiration for this version of slowchat.
For those of you who remember #PedagooHampshire I hope national #teacher5aday week this year will have a similar impact. A festival of happy and healthy teachers turning their learning into development with wellbeing and its heart.
If you need any ideas about how things have developed so far …
The five fantastic educators listed below will lead a day and share their ideas about their element of #teacher5aday. Questions will be shared each morning from 10.00 am based on the blogs below and as with previous slow chats we hope you can dip in for an hour, a day or take part for the full week. Their will be a repeat of the questions each evening for those who want to take part then.
Zoom chats where we are all lined up like the Brady bunch: are they looking at me, themselves or at the other person? Did they hear what I just said? Can they tell I’m feeling like crap? That I’m not coping? Am I faking it well enough? My backdrop looks good but if I moved the camera around they’d see my kitchen is a disaster zone.
In front of the class: is my armour good enough? Am I performing it well? Are they smiling beneath their masks? Can they tell I’m freaking out? That I’m exhausted? That I’m scared for them, their families and my own?
I’m great at performing (thank you, Calder High Drama Teachers circa 96-2003) but then again, so are the majority of teachers. We do it all the time.I mean, no one really needs to see my shit tip of a kitchen, and students don’t need to know about my anxieties to access a good lesson. So, I, like many others amongst us, armour up and fake it until I make it.
Having said that, this becomes both exhausting and unmanageable if we forget to stop and step out of role every now and again. Remember: we don’t have to go method on this. We need to exit stage left every once in a while, or else it becomes all-consuming and unhealthy.
[Confession: I went so method in 2012 that I wasn’t really sure who I was external to the teacher role anymore. I was the Meryl Streep of teaching. Full method, all of the time. No life. No Oscar. Robbed. Story for another time.]
The parts in a day where we can express and lighten the load of teacher role often come from informal connections. The informal connections outside of school, yes, but also those in school, the golden threads that run through our work – the things that keep the runaway train on its tracks.
In our profession we connect. Prior to 2020 it was connection – not virtually, scheduled, from a covid safe distance – but up front, spontaneously, often genuinely and for a lot of our time in the building. Despite all the different personalities, emotions and agendas you have in one educational setting, informal connections are the magical glue that prevent us from simply being knowledge factories.
Imagine life without the: corridor catch ups,banteraway from the students, staff room chats, eye contact or eye rolls in briefing or CPD, face to face meetings, brews being made when you’re close to the edge,being unprofessionally daft behind closed doors, laughing so hard in a colleague’s face that you feel like the 16 year olds that you just taught,and more important than ever right now: pulling each other to one side and really checking in … and the rest.
It is one of the many privileges of working in a school.
And it keeps us sane.
But the good, behind the scenes, stuff is more difficult right now than ever before – my students talk of being bubbled away from their friends, teachers tell of staffrooms being shut, spaces to break out being shut down and how we are slowly replacing the face to face with the virtual and that’s before we even start on the periods of isolation that many of us are starting to experience more frequently.
You are not alone if you are feeling like a coiled spring about to unravel from a reduction in the informality that normally keeps your workplace, and you, ticking over.
So, (half term homework alert!) this half term I’d urge you to reach out, talk to each other and share the mess, the stress, the other angle on the zoom camera: the good bad and the ugly.
Check in with yourself, your friends, your colleagues and family where you simply haven’t had the time, energy, head space or covid safe parameters to do so. Remember you are not going for an Oscar nomination, shed the performance and professional armour this week.
Use your network and the amazing teaching communities there are out there to slowly unwind, share and decompress, rather than unravel. Get behind the sanitised safe areas and into the mess with each other. It’s where the good stuff happens. #connect