I was truly inspired by @martynreah’s #teacher5aday blog, and it really helped me to provide a structure to so many goals and aspirations that I had marked out for the next year. As we approach the end of the second month of 2015, whilst fresh in y mind from the piece that I have put together for the #teacher5aday exhibition, I thought it would be nice to document the work I have put in so far to preserving my own well being in the hope that it might help others to embed their own #teacher5aday changes. And of course, the even better ifs.
I have shed a lot of friends as a teacher- I think finally finding my vocation in life helped me to identify the type of people that I wanted to surround myself with and the people that fulfil my life in the same way that I try to do for them. A social networking lecture at the start of my PGCE course prompted me to purge my facebook and it is next to dormant other than the usual abundance of pictures of my child. As I get older, my friendship group grows smaller but stronger, with people that understand the way that I work, and appreciate that when I am emotional or angry, what I say and what I mean are not usually the same thing. My friends are now those that can celebrate in my successes, listen as I self-sufficiently put the pieces back together and share my interests or key fundamental ideas. As a result, I have been to the theatre, made new friends at work, and made a wonderful and memorable trip to Iceland this month. This year, I am embarking on my first holiday alone (meeting people out there!) and have so many amazing trips and events booked that force me to maintain the work/life balance that is ultimately key to the self preservation essential to any attempt at longievity in my role.
Keep this up- I’ve bought a wall planner ONLY for non work stuff- if the planner is empty, I’m in trouble.
I’ve joined a gym! Not only did I join a gym, which in itself is not a feat- a gym has always featured in my routine- but I managed to find a non-poncy, spa-like gym that feels like a mini retreat every time I visit the gym. I am also joining a running club this week (watch this space- I’m hoping the race bug comes back) after running my last half marathon 2 years ago and then allowing teaching to sink my PB without a trace. I bought a bike when my son learned to ride his own in the summer and it is such an instant fee-good hit to dump the bikes in the boot and head out to the park. In addition, my diet has had a complete turnaround. I have always eaten fairly healthily (evened out with my own weight in chocolate of course) but then in early January, watched a rather disturbing but eye-opening programme about the fact that our bodies are able to self heal if we would allow, but that we are denying the body of essential nutrients as a result of our diets. I switched to a vegetable smoothie and beetroot juice for my breakfast and after two weeks, felt an immediate difference. I was awake, my thoughts were clearer and I felt very little requirement for caffeine to keep me going through the day. After researching further into raw food diets, I am now adding chia seeds and spirulina, foods known to be rich in B12, iron and antioxidants. I have had a fair share of funny looks and shaking heads as I drink my green goo breakfast, but I feel fantastic and notice such a difference to my energy levels and mood. I know it isn’t for everyone, but it is a simple way to feel better- eat more veg.
Keep up running club. Enter a race for the next six months.
This is where the age-old good thing jar comes in. I have kept a yearly good thing jar since the start of my PGCE, using post it notes to record tiny moments that make me smile and make me happy. It could be a joke that I shared with a colleague or friend, the view from my classroom (my entire back wall is a window- I’m very lucky), or something that a child brings in to show me. With the same mindset, I have extended this to use with my form group- each week we have ‘Celebration Friday’ where we write a small note to share the thing that we are proud of or want to remember from the last week, or alternatively nominate a moment that they think someone else in the tutor group should be proud of. Students vote and we add the top two voted moments to our celebration board, but I have collected in all moments to collate for an end of year display. The whole process of noticing for me is to being able to reflect and retain the moments that seem at the time quite ordinary but in fact, it would be quite a shame to let them slip from memory. I keep a diary to monitor moments on a more personal level, which allows me to look back and consider where I was, and what I have experienced since that time.
Eat lunch outside in the nature spot at work when we get to after Easter and there is slightly less danger of hypothermia.
I am eternally grateful to Twitter for the fact that I am continually informing myself and improving myself as a teacher. I am now about to embark on Twitter Coaching (set up by @furtheredagogy and @ASTsupportAAli, the little geniuses) and love an opportunity to get involved in extra projects. However, #teacher5aday caused me to consider my interests and curiosity outside of work. I’ve made some fantastic new friends over the last few months, who have forced me into different projects outside of school that have been completely outside the box- drama workshops, creative writing, shooting! A blessing And a curse, I need a project to get my teeth into to keep me feeling like I have a direction. To do this outside of school instead of sinking into work related projects has been fantastic.
Look into the LP accreditation or an equally recognised qualification- not a masters. Not yet!
I have made a concerted effort to spend much more time with children during school hours- setting up a newsletter club, a poetry club, organising trips to get Y9 thinking about their next steps as we move towards GCSE, carrying out student voice beforehand to ask the kids what THEY wanted from their time in school- even down to the days that would suit them best. I find that this one is on a much more personal lebel- I have learned to habitually give without expectation- a compliment, an enquiry into how someone has found their day or how they are feeling; I’m consciously ending anything I say with a question. This sounds so simplistic, but when we are busy, it is so easy to use time with others to fill about our own rants and frustrations. Questions equal out the balance and offer the support that other people may need, just like you do at times. For me, volunteering up your kindness is the greatest gift.
Make up wellbeing bags for my department.