To blog or not to blog? P Ottley-O’Connor @ottleyoconnor

This is my 29th year as a teacher, 25th year as a senior leader, 13th year as a headteacher and first day as a blogger!

I promised @Thompsonmaire & @Amyjeetley amongst others in September that I’d pen a blog before the end of the October 1/2 term holiday.

Pat 1

I have many excuses for why I failed to meet this deadline, including taking up the post of Interim Principal @tha_info at the end of September & sadly losing my father-in-law as the 1/2 term holidays began; however, they are still just excuses.

In the same period I have prioritised many other things. During the first 65 days of headship in Hereford, I have managed to squeeze in many other worthwhile activities, including; facilitating 12 @TeachingLeaders NPQML, Aspire & Fellows evening & weekend sessions;  supported 4 Future Leader applicants, 4 Assistant Heads into their Deputy Headships, 3 Deputies into their Headship, 2 Heads as they left their posts; coached 10+ SLT & Heads and personally survived (successfully) a DFE visit, a Section 48 SIAMS inspection & a Section 5 Ofsted Inspection.

All this was done at the same time as enjoying quality time with Mel & my five sons! Incidentally, I also supported the eldest in his successful application for a PGCE for September…but isn’t that what a dad should do anyway?

You’d think that work life balance & my own wellbeing would be an issue.  In short, it is! If I’m honest, it always has been. I’ve always worked hard & played hard.

As schoolboy & university student I represented GB in two different sports & held down several part time jobs to support my activities. My sporting career ended suddenly just one month before my finals at university with a broken neck and a six month stint in hospital. This was no surprise to my friends and family as it was the 31st bone I’d broken, including two previous spinal breaks! This period coincided with the start of my teaching career where work quickly filled the void created by the end of my intensive sports training regime.

Work life balance was not talked about, or even acknowledged when I started teaching. As a PE teacher with no marking, I never seemed to have the same stresses & strains as my contemporaries! Yes, I ran clubs every night & had sports teams competing at the weekends, but it never really felt like work. Promotions followed and the work always expanded to fill all available time.

I constantly wrestle with the balance of work & life. We all have jobs at home. Mel does 20+ loads of washing per week and I do the cooking – even when working away I plan ahead for meals. The boys all have their own roles & responsibilities to fit in with their studies, sport, girlfriends & part time jobs.  I think the secret to managing our balance is that we constantly keep the balance & our wellbeing to the fore in our planning.  If I’m truthful, I’ve probably taken on too much this year, but will still ensure it balances!

So why don’t I blog?

Although I tweet a fair amount, it’s often in short bursts, where I tend to drift in and out when time allows.  I regularly join 2 chats each week on a Sunday evening.  My family know that I aim to stop everything from 8:00-8:30pm on a Sunday night to participate in #SLTchat. I occasionally stay tuned for the equally valuable #ukgovchat, but sometimes Monday’s priorities get in the way!

I tend to squeeze in all other tweets at the same time as watching brain dead TV (right now I’m watching The Simpsons Movie with all 5 sons) whilst Mel is persevering with slimming down our 2133 holiday photos to create an album of our Cambodia/Thailand backpacking holiday from the summer.

I used to mainly tweet about school specific issues. Then approximately 18 months ago, I started tweeting with Twitter colleagues about work life balance & wellbeing. This tweeting network grew & intensified just over one year ago with the birth of #teacher5aday ably led by @MartynReah. I now willingly contribute on a daily basis to our #teacher5aday ‘action’ group & it’s offspring #teacher5adayslowchat, …sketch, …sew, etc.

I’ve come to realise in headship that the wellbeing & mental health of staff, both individually & collectively, are vital in creating a caring team able to deliver within a climate of high expectations & no excuses, where all learners achieve without exception.

Although I’ve enjoyed spending 2 hours reflecting & writing this blog, I think I prefer the immediate gratification of the tweeting conversation.  In this time I could have gone for a walk or played pool with the boys.  I enjoy supporting colleagues and genuinely like helping people. I’m always happy to offer a helping hand.  I don’t particularly enjoy writing, but perhaps that’s the topic of another blog!

Writing this feels too selfish with my time & too self-indulgent, or perhaps this is just a reflection of my own inner turmoil.  I may change my mind, but as a result I think that this may become my first & last blog.


5 thoughts on “To blog or not to blog? P Ottley-O’Connor @ottleyoconnor

  1. Welcome to the blogging world! This had better not be your last post! I think you have a lot to share. Just keep it short so it doesn’t overwhelm you (and your readers). All teachers struggle with balance it it sound slike you could share some good tips on that. And you could also give us snapshots of your injuries (!) and family life, maybe not in that order. You sound like a delightful leader and we need more of those in education. Thanks for joining the ranks!


  2. I enjoyed reading this and hope you do keep going. I only blog through @staffrm but find it’s a good way of encouraging reflection – it makes me PAUSE, which I think we often don’t have time to do in our frenetic day to day lives. And yours sounds especially frenetic! It can help us to process our experiences, as well as to share them and to connect with others (in a more productive and satisfying way than I think we often can through sequences of 140 characters).

    As teachezwell suggests, keep it succinct – it’s a great discipline, saves time and encourages readers.

    If you haven’t already read it, this post from @nancygedge might be useful too?


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