I solemnly swear.

I solemnly swear.

Most of you are back after Easter holidays but I’m super cheeky and have today as an INSET day. As in, an INSET day OFF. Good times!

Today is really bright and feels warmer and the anticipation of a heatwave this week confirms to me that it is the summer term. I’m excited as I love what the summer term can bring (warmer weather, more regular outdoor PE, sports day etc). I’m also aware it is a really LONG term and the run-up to the summer holidays can be brutal. I’ve decided to create some resolutions for this term, to ensure I maintain my already limited sanity and I make it to summer in one piece!

As a teacher, I solemnly swear that I will:

  • Always get to work after 7am. Any work attempted before this time will not be my best and will probably resemble something a 4 year old has done.
  • Always eat breakfast. And a proper one, not last night’s pizza or a chocolate bar. There’s nothing worse than a growling belly, especially when you lecture your class on the importance of eating a healthy breakfast.
  • Maintain my individuality. Yes, I am a teacher and it’s a big part of my life. But I am more than just my job. I will remember all the things I did and enjoyed in the holidays and try to do some of that in term time too.
  • Work less hours at home but in the time I do work I will be more productive (that means putting down my phone…eek).

 

As a teacher, I solemnly swear that I will not:

  • Stuff my face for five minutes at lunchtime, whilst marking books and preparing for the afternoon, and then class this as “having a lunch break.”
  • Wee only once a day. Enough said.
  • Think it’s possible to provide 1-2-1 type intervention to all 28 children in my class every minute of the day. I am ONE PERSON.
  • Be too hard on myself! (Think this one will be the hardest out of all of them!)

Hope your summer term gets off to a great start 🙂

Advertisements
School Holidays…or Working From Home?

School Holidays…or Working From Home?

A point of conversation among many people when discussing teaching is the amount of holiday we receive. Of course, compared to other jobs I’ve worked where I was given 28 days annual leave (of which I was forced to spend on Bank Holidays too) it is a generous amount. But how do you spend your school holidays? Are they used for re-generating and relaxing, or do you see them as a chance to work-from-home, or simply catch-up on things you otherwise wouldn’t have time to do in term-time?

My Easter holidays are coming to an end and they have gone crazy fast. I’ve probably worked about eight hours in total so far, from the comfort of my sofa. Mainly planning for the term ahead, a little display research, some assessment. I popped into school for literally two minutes to pick up some paper-work left behind that I needed. To be honest, I have thought about work a fair bit, Pinteresting ideas for the classroom. But, other than that, I have done nothing.

When I’d popped into work a few days before, I had a quick glance at the signing-in book and some of my colleagues had been in several days straight, for several hours. As a result, this morning, the teacher guilt was starting to creep in. Should I go into work today? I wasn’t even entirely sure what for. Maybe jazz up a display? Tidy up even more? Get ahead on some resources for several weeks’ time? I thought about it…and eventually decided not to. This is my holiday, I work hard enough in term-time to earn it. I knew that all my books were marked and up to date and the first two weeks were planned. I had displays up and the classroom was tidy. I didn’t need to go in and do extra work. Instead, I spent some time walking around one of my favourite places, trying out my new camera, drinking tea and relaxing. It felt much more holiday-like 🙂

What are your thoughts? Should teacher guilt be a thing? How much of the holidays should be your own? I’d love to know your honest opinions!

 

5 in 5 – 5 more times Friends reflected life as a teacher (Back to School version!)

5 in 5 – 5 more times Friends reflected life as a teacher (Back to School version!)

We’re back and so is 5 in 5! Hope the return to school isn’t too much of a shock and you have a great term ahead of you! Here’s a special back to school version of my favourite Friends themed posts. It also seems to have a bit of an unintentional Joey and Phoebe theme…

  1. Feeling like you should justify the “extra pounds” you’ve accumulated over the past two weeks…

giphy

 

2. Walking back in on the first day and remembering how you left your classroom.

giphy (1).gif

 

3. Trying to make some sort of sense of the planning you created before you broke up for Christmas holidays.

giphy (3)

 

4. When your boss gives a “gentle reminder” of the things which should have been done over the holidays, which you were told about before.

giphy (4).gif

 

5. But overall, you get a great feeling when your children tell you they’ve missed you and they’re glad to be back.

giphy (2).gif

 

See you soon for another 5 in 5!

Kate xxxx

2017 Reflections

2017 Reflections

My end-of-year post has become something of a tradition now…I believe this is my fourth year?? Despite struggling to find the time to blog these days, I knew I couldn’t miss out on this one. Especially as this year has been a particularly huge one for me in many ways.

Whilst this blog generally centres around my profession, other things in my life this year have hugely contributed to and affected it. I can hand on heart say it has been the most difficult year of my life so far. It is the one where I’ve had the most struggles, self-doubt, change, anxiety, stress. And yet, reflecting on it now it’s the year I’ve seen the most personal growth, development and ambition.

January/February/March

For many, it’s the time of “new year, new me.” At this point, I didn’t really know what the old me was, let alone where I wanted to be heading. I was very confused about situations in my life and was finding it tough to cope with. Despite the stress, the saving grace was my job – going back after the Christmas holidays was a welcome return to routine and the chance to throw myself back into something which inspired me. I can remember teaching Dragons as a topic and doing a topic launch where a dragon breaks into the school hall and wreaks havoc! Despite everything going on in my life, I feel like I came back after Christmas feeling noticeably more at home in the classroom and ready for the year ahead. We also had World Book Day (which I seriously enjoyed dressed as Mary Poppins) and a variety of other events at school. My children were making noticeable progress, academically, but also just growing up before my eyes!

The end of February/beginning of March brought the toughest decision of my life thus far, resulting in the end of an engagement and moving home with my parents. It had been a long time coming and a complicated situation with many contributing factors. There’s no other way to describe it other than extremely difficult. Looking back now it all feels a bit of a blur but I can remember how I felt at that time and it wasn’t great (to say the least). Again, I think the consistency of teaching kept me going, alongside having to be OK for my class everyday. Work-wise things were going well – I’d had a slightly under-par book look but it was all things I knew I could work on and improve. It was just finding the mental strength to do so!

It was in March that things got a little too much and I confided in my SLT. They were very supportive and whilst I knew I was nowhere near getting better, I knew I’d made the first step in the right direction.

April/May/June

My mental health became a priority at this time because I knew something had to change. I couldn’t continue like I was. I can remember the Easter holidays being an incredibly tough time. Arguably the toughest I’ve ever experienced. My family had gone away on a pre-booked holiday to New York and being alone in the house for a week was incredibly tough. I can remember waking up, and just wishing it to be night again so I could go back to sleep. I don’t know if it’s because I wasn’t at work but I also had a blip with teaching too. I can remember ringing my colleague and friend and crying down the phone, insisting I couldn’t do it anymore, that I’d fallen out of love with it and I didn’t want to go back. I struggled to find the motivation to do any work and felt totally unprepared. However, I can remember going back with a renewed sense of drive and positivity and while this only lasted about a week, it was a glimmer of light in what had been a dark few months.

May and June brought better weather and all the things a summer term at school has to offer. It actually made me feel quite nostalgic; the smell of the cut grass, the girl’s summer dresses and all the fun sports. June in particular was a tough month for teaching as it was SO HOT. I can remember bringing in fans from home and blasting them all round the classroom. The children were hot, I was sweating and there were numerous wasps visiting the classroom (carnage). We enjoyed some awesome topics though, including mini beasts which involved a day pond-fishing at our school pond and examining and classifying our findings. I can remember feeling super happy in these days because the children were being hands-on and active and they were genuinely excited to try something different. We also visited the Eden Project to coincide with the start of our Amazon Rainforest topic. This was the first trip where I actually felt like I was knew what I was doing on a trip, how to manage the children and the expectations which was a huge step forward.

Mentally, I was still struggling but another trip to the doctor hoped to rectify that.

July/August/September

July brought the end of the school year and it was insane that it had arrived so quickly. I will never forget the feeling when I walked back into my classroom after dismissing my first class for the last time. It wasn’t happiness or sadness really – it was indescribable. I think the overwhelming emotion was complete exhaustion. I felt immensely proud of myself though, although it’s not really until now that I look back and think how strong I was to get through. I can remember seeing my fellow NQTs and just sharing this complete feeling of relief. I also picked up my new little car on the last day of term: my treat to myself after a difficult year.

Of course, August is stereotypically a teacher’s favourite month but I entered it with a sense of dread. How was I going to fill my time!? I’d had to move classrooms so that took a few days but generally I was panicking about how I was going to occupy myself for six long weeks. I bought a monthly planner and started to pack it out with different things and I ended up having an amazing summer. I can remember still feeling low and finding certain days difficult but looking back I am so glad I filled my time so productively. It certainly wasn’t a wasted time! I bought a National Trust membership and revived my love of history, visiting old houses and gardens. I caught up with so many friends. I celebrated my 24th birthday and set goals. It was great and I’m so glad I kept going, despite some days not wanting to get out my bed!

I spent some time prepping for the new school year but I had my first taste of something amazing – experience! I was able to reflect on the previous year and use this to set up my classroom more efficiently, save time on things which would likely go to waste and re-use planning as inspiration. I think it was this that kick-started something within me.

The start of the new school year was so welcomed. It was great to be back with everyone again and ready for a fresh challenge. The first few weeks were tricky, sussing out a new class (and having eight extra children than the year before!) but I felt a renewed sense of ambition. I was no longer an NQT, I was head of computing and e-safety and I had big plans!

October, November December

This brings us up to the final quarter of the year. It got darker and colder but, at some indeterminable point, I started to get brighter. I wish I could define how I felt and why I started to feel better but I can’t; it wasn’t a case of just waking up one day and thinking “I feel better”. It was a general shift in mindset which I think could only have occurred after time. But I started to feel a lot more positive. At work, I felt like I had a handle on things and wasn’t just keeping my head above water, but actually seeking out new initiatives and offering ideas I hadn’t before. I was managing my workload a lot better and not working fourteen hour days followed by both weekend days. I was making time for other things. I discovered a passion for sketching which I enjoyed as it was completed un-work related. I started to realise that I could be fully committed to and adore my job whilst also living my life outside of work and allow myself other passions. I threw myself out of my comfort zone and found happiness there and have set myself up for a brand new adventure, of which I am very excited for.

Overall, it’s been a huge year of change, soul searching and adaptation. I’m not sure I can say I’d like to go through it again but it has most definitely changed me and made me more resilient. I think the biggest achievement this year is learning that I must put myself first. That it’s not selfish or self-centred, just wise! Lots of people have left my life this year for various reasons but many have entered it too and for that I am grateful, excited and blessed.

I hope your 2017 has been one of learning and growth and that you have also managed to make some happy memories. Despite it being a difficult year there are still many happy memories I can take from it and I don’t regret anything I have done. I’m not going to make solid New Year’s resolutions for 2018 because I’ve learned that even the best laid plans do not always come to fruition. In fact, I’m starting to think it’s the unplanned ones I like the most!

Very best wishes and love for a happy and prosperous 2018!

Kate xxxx

5 in 5 – 5 ways to get children’s attention in your classroom!

5 in 5 – 5 ways to get children’s attention in your classroom!

Getting children to stop and listen, especially if they’re engaged and engrossed in their activity (which, let’s face it, they are because you’re awesome at planning) can be a tricky ordeal.

The worst thing is to get into some sort of shouting match over the top of children’s voices. On the other hand, it’s also not so great to be loud if they’re working quietly and just calmly want their attention for two minutes. Here are five tried and tested methods to get your children to stop and listen! I think it’s good to use a combination to keep them (and you) on their toes!

  1. Tambourine/Triangle.

Using a musical instrument can be effective because it’s clear immediately it’s not your voice and will stand out. I shake a tambourine which can be heard over slightly noisier classrooms. My colleague uses a chime which is loud, but is also great if they’re quieter and you don’t want to make them jump!

2. Clapping.

Clapping out a rhythm for them to copy is useful, as it not only does it mean they have to be quiet but they’ll have to put their pen/pencil down in order to do it properly (insist on this). I usually use this if I just want to pause them for a minute or two. Mix up the claps too – it’s easy to see who is listening and who isn’t!

3. Call and response.

So these are great! There are so many out there and I change mine up every half term to fit in with our topic. This term our topic was around food, so every time I called “okie dokie!” they would have to call back “arti-chokey.” This one is quite good as it means they immediately become quiet but they don’t necessarily have to completely stop an activity, perfect if they’re in the middle of art of something similar. Other examples are:

“stop right now,” – “thank you very much,”

“stop!” – “collaborate and listen,”

“everybody’s gone surfing” – “surfing USA!”

Make them as fun as you like!

 

4. Silent Simon Says.

Just start doing an action like tapping your head, making no noise. Move onto something else, then something else. Once one picks up on what you’re doing, others will follow. And it soon becomes a competition. It’s also very clear to see who is paying attention and you can dish out the praise like it’s going out of fashion. Quiet and positive behaviour management. #teacherwin

 

5. Countdown.

I like using countdowns when it’s not too noisy – for example if they’re having a minute of partner talk and know that they will have to be stopped soon. It sets them an expectation but also means you don’t have to raise your voice too much. 3,2,1 usually works.

 

Hope you like these five methods for getting quiet. Even with the best of intentions, sometimes there will always be children who don’t stop but mixing them up keeps them on their toes and coupled with really strong positive behaviour strategies and rewards, they can be really effective! Do you use any other strategies? If so, please share!

See you soon!

Kate xx

5 in 5 – 5 more times Friends reflected life as a teacher.

5 in 5 – 5 more times Friends reflected life as a teacher.

  1. Dreaded Duty Day.

It’s your Duty Day. And it’s raining. Again. BUT, not enough to get all the children inside….

IMG_6511.GIF

 

2. Every time you go out with your work friends.

IMG_6512.GIF

And yet, you still do.

 

3. ??????

IMG_6516.GIF

Or “Miss” or “Sir” or the dreaded tap.

 

4. People who take your glue sticks and don’t GIVE THEM BACK. 

(This can also apply to any other stationary item you enjoy.)

STAFF WHO TAKE YOUR STUFF WITHOUT ASKING.gif

5. When it’s nearing the end of term…

Or the week….or the day…

IMG_6518.GIF

See you soon!

Kate xx

 

Quickie Update. 

Quickie Update. 

TGIHT (that stands for Thank God it’s half term, by the way).

Yes, we made it and it does feel a slight relief. The first half term has been tough but the initial difficulties are over and I’m really starting to settle with my class. I plan to blog a couple of times over the holiday so won’t go into detail now – just know I’m here and I’m hanging on in there! 

I do have to say that I’m overwhelmed by the response to my last blog post about mental health (check it out if you haven’t already). It was my highest viewed post and I’m so glad because it is SUCH an important topic. I received so many messages of support and agreement and it was just really great. So thank you 🙂 

I’m off for now but just wanted to say well done for making it. Holidays have been the toughest times for me in the past (see last post to know why) but I’m really trying to shift my mindset and stay positive, spending the time to do things that I enjoy and help me as a person. Go me!

Speak to you soon!
Kate xx