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.
At the start of lockdown 1 the family and I were ill. I wrote about it at the time but still find it a challenging read when I reflect back on that time last year. https://martynreah.wordpress.com/2020/03/28/teacher5aday-slowchatc19-my-experience-of-having-the-covid-19-virus/
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 also read an article from the HBR shared by @saysmiss this week about relational trust in organisations. On further investigation https://hbr.org/2020/07/remote-managers-are-having-trust-issues there is a wealth of resource to consider at the moment in time.
“Generally negative attitudes about this form of working seemed to spill over into the way managers’ perceived their own employees as well.”
My #teacher5ady pledge
If I ever manage to secure a headship my first job will be to review the appraisal process. I love the work of @chrismoyse https://chrismoyse.wordpress.com/2019/01/30/growing-great-teachers-improve-not-prove/ and alongside a #teacher5aday pledge I hope the staff I might be fortunate enough to lead understand that I will truly invest in them in a holistic approach to their development.
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.