Teacher 5 a day

I read all about this last year and have followed the different threads that have appeared on Twitter throughout the year. I have sort of tried to do some of the things suggested as I do feel that the ideas behind them are important. This year, I want to make a real effort and continue some of the things that I have begun already. There is a quite a bit of overlap between this post and yesterday’s #nurture1516 blogpost but I guess that means that the things are important and may actually get done.

  1. Reach out – I talked about this in my Nurture1516 post yesterday. I want to make sure that I reach out to the people in my department, go in and say Hello, check that things are OK etc. I also want to make sure that I don’t neglect my family. I need to stay in touch with my children and make time for my husband and parents.
  2. Exercise – Always have this on my New year’s resolution list. The aim is to do at least 3 bits of exercise a week, even if it’s only going out for a walk at lunchtime when I have ppa
  3. Take Notice – I want to start trying to photograph something everyday. I have set up a Flickr account and have made a start. We will see how it goes.
  4. Learn – I don’t think that this ever stops but I have stopped blogging about what I have done. I need to make sure that I do keep learning and practising new skills and also to post about what I have done. I also want to really and try and improve my drawing skills and not just read books about how to draw.
  5. Volunteer – This one is hard as my time is already so squeezed. I will run a gymnastics club at school this coming term which will hopefully appeal to some children who don’t normally take part in Games clubs.

I think that it is vital for teachers to be aware of themselves as other people and not just teachers. It is only a job but it can be all consuming and stop us being the other people that we need to be.

Ring out the old, Ring in the new.

Another year has gone by and the Nurture 15/16 posts are appearing in my twitter feed. I love to read people’s reflections on the past year and so often, their thoughts echo my own feelings or put my thoughts into better context. This time of year is a time to take stock of what is happening and to think about how some elements can be improved.

So here goes with a review of last year’s 5 points:

1- Being Positive

This started off really badly. I became more and more stressed and depressed with workload and school in general. A class of 36, increasing workload, pressure of needing to do much better in Sats and the prospect of things only gettng worse led to me very nearly handing in my notice. I was arriving home unable to do anything but cry and feeling that I couldn’t go on. If I hadn’t been doing a show which gave me something to break the cycle, I’m not sure that I could have carried on.

I had a long talk with my Head who was fantastically supportive as ever and managed to crawl out of the hole that I had dug myself into. Things did improve and although the stress is still there, it is manageable and I have not felt so despondent even though external factors seem to be getting worse.

2 – Sats

Our hard work must have done some good as our results were a huge improvement on last year. I was especially pleased with our Maths results in particular which included 5 children achieving Level 6. My favourite moment was going through the papers of the children who had narrowly missed out on Level 4 and finding a question incorrectly marked wrong. The paper belonged to one of our more problematic children and it was lovely that he did get a result that reflected his efforts.

3 – Holidays

Both my OH work incredibly long hours and sometimes holidays are the only times that we really see each other. We had 2 lovely holidays in Sicily and Brittany this year and also managed to squeeze in two weekends away, one in Hunstanton in September and another in Gloucestershire in Dec. They were lovely opportunities to just chill out, recharge our batteries and enjoy each other’s company.

All that sand on Brancaster Beach
All that sand on Brancaster Beach

4 – Hobbies

Singing continues to be difficult. I am currently supposed to be resting my voice in an effort to stop my throat hurting. It’s a real pity as I love to sing and doing Aspects of Love in January possibly saved my teaching career. The Hired Man was a fantastic show in April although, sadly, we didn’t get the audiences that we needed to cover the costs of the show. We also did Me and My Girl again in October which was lovely. This year will be The Full Monty which is very different.

5 – Reaching Out

I still love Twitter as a source of inspiration as well as all of my online friends in the PTRC forum. I haven’t been to Teachmeets at all this year but have had a termly cakemeet with twitter friends as well as meeting up with some of my PTRC friends. I really value the support that I receive from both of these places.

So overall, despite starting incredibly badly, 2015 wasn’t a bad year at all and so now it’s onto 2016

1 – Staying Positive

This has been so much easier since September due to a school reorganisation which has given me a class of 26, rather than 36. I feel that I have much more time to really connect with my pupils. I love my job despite everything that the government keeps throwing at our profession. The children are the most important thing about my job and trying to make a positive difference, no matter how small, remains my aim.

There has been a lot written about Mindfulness recently and I like the idea of savouring the moment and taking life more slowly. This has a lot in common with the Gratitude idea and being thankful for things. I did try to keep a positive things diary in 2014 but it only lasted until May. I’m toying with the idea of trying to keep a photographic record of moments and things that I notice this year such as the sunrise on the final day of term. Not sure whether this will take off yet.

Sunrise at school. Friday 18th Dec
Sunrise at school. Friday 18th Dec

2 – Sats and Assessment

As a Year 6 teacher, it is impossible to get away from this. This year feels so difficult as none of us have any real idea of what the results will look like in July. I hate the exam factory mentality but know that I owe it to all of my pupils to give them the best end possible to their primary schooling. I just hope that I can continue to make learning as interesting and enjoyable as possible and spark a love of something, art, reading, sport or whatever.

My real hope is that the current mess of assessment gets properly sorted out this year. We have currently have tests where no one knows what a good result will look like and interim standards for teacher assessment which are only for this year. Add to that, the continuing pressure to learn pointless names of grammatical rules that have nothing to do with good writing and the picture for Key Stage 2 assessment is fairly grim. Hopefully, by this time next year, things will be clearer and more positive.

3. Holidays

I realised this year just how important it is to actually switch off and reconnect with my husband and family. We have holidays booked in our favourite resort of Collioure down in the South of France as well as visiting the North West coast of Spain which will be totally new. I am looking forward to revisiting my favourite spots in Collioure and just chilling in the Mediterranean sunshine as well as exploring the Spanish coast. I also want to get away for a few weekends as we loved both of the short getaways this Autumn.

4 – Non Teaching Stuff

I’m not sure what’s going to happen with my singing. I have always sung and can’t imagine life without music but it may be that it becomes a much smaller part of my life.
I continue to read as my main relaxation activity. I have read over 200 books again this year although a lot of them were rereads of favourite novels which is fairly lazy. I want to try and do other things rather than just switch off with a book but also to try and read more widely.
I also want to develop my ability to draw. I have a couple of sketch books and try to practise but I need to do this more regularly. I have spent lots of money on ‘How to draw’ books  and I now need to try and do it rather than just read about it. I loved following #teacher5adaysketch and even submitted one of my own so I have made a start.

Some of my collection of How to draw books
Some of my collection of How to draw books

5 – Reaching Out

I still feel that this is really important as teaching, even in a school where you are surrounded by others doing the same job, can be very isolated. I have tried to make sure that I reach out to the other members of staff in my school and visit classrooms just to say Hello on a regular basis and will continue to do that. If I feel isolated, then it is probably likely that others do too. I also want to make sure that my online presence is less passive. It is easy just to read posts, tweets etc and agree internally without responding. I want to make more effort to actually reply to people and say why I agree with them (or not) but at least to let them know that they have made me think. I like it when my blog posts are read and my tweets commented on and I need to share more of that. My experience of Twitter is a positive one and I need to make sure that I do my bit to ensure that it stays that way for other people.

So that’s my Nurture post for 15/16. I don’t whether I am being totally self indulgent but I enjoyed writing it and the process of setting out my thoughts in some sort of order.

Have a happy and successful 2016 everyone!