#teacher5aday update

imageAnother year had passed and #teacher5aday is still helping me to keep a work life balance.  Here’s a brief update on how I’ve used it this year.

#Exercise.  This has helped me keep fit and healthy in both body and mind over the year.  As I’ve said before, breathing and exercising is all I can manage, trying to think as well is impossible. This gives my mind a rest and by the time the exercise is over things are clearer/don’t seem quite so bad.  This year I ran my first 10k race to support cancer research which felt like a big achievement.  I’m also encouraging my sister by running the C25K with her. Next step is to get back to bootcamp which I’ve hardly been to the last two months due to work.

#Volunteer. In addition to helping my sister with exercise and running the race for life, I have run a few virtual races where the money goes to charity and in December as did the reverse advent calendar and took a box of food to the foodbank.  Need to keep working on this one.  Helping others takes my mind off myself.

#Learn.  Passed my NPQSL at the beginning of the year and that helped me get my Lead Practitioner role in the middle of the year.  I’m starting at a new school in January and I’m sure it helped my application.  I continue to read books and blogs but next year I’d like to learn a new skill.  Just need to decide what I want to learn.  Probably going to start with how to work my new camera.

#Connect.  I continue to connect with teachers on twitter.  This year a group of history teachers have set up a Facebook page to share resources and support one another, it has been great to be a part of that.  More importantly I have spent more time with my family.  We bought a camper van in October and have already had lots of fun days out.  Looking forward to lots of weekends camping next year.

#Notice.  Struggling with this one.  I was lucky enough to get a camera for Christmas so I’m going to learn how to use that and it should really help me notice what’s around me. We took a trip to Dover Castle yesterday and looking through the lense I noticed things in greater detail.


I’m looking forward to 2017 and keeping these five words in mind.



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Healthy eating and vegetarianism

Healthy eating and vegetarianism

First of all this post isn’t trying to convert anyone; it’s just me rambling one about how I try to eat healthy and be vegetarian.  Sounds like it would be easy but it took me a little while to figure out how to make sure I was getting a balanced diet.

I have been vegetarian for 21 years, I don’t think about it unless I am going to eat somewhere where I have to state dietary preferences or  eat out somewhere new.  Overall, eating out has got much better.  Most pubs and restaurants have at least one vegetarian option on the menu, some will increase the size of staters to give more choice and some the chef will make you something.  However, I am still often disappointed by the lack of choice.  I mean, one option is not a choice.  I can’t imagine many restaurants just offering one meat dish.

At home it is much easier.  I started by using meat substitutes for the meals I was used to cooking for example quorn mince to make lasagne, shepherds pie and chilli.  However, I had given up meat for animal welfare reasons and as a result I also didn’t like the taste because I connected it to eating animals.  Therefore, I moved away from meat substitutes to using only vegetables.  I still have shepherds pies and chilli, I just make them with veg and pulses.  I also eat as little processed food as possible; this makes my eating choices healthier as I eat less salt, sugar and chemicals used in processing food.   The other thing I did was eat too much cheese.  Many vegetarian recipes include cheese so I keep a careful eye on how much I’m eating in a week.  I also make sure I eat enough protein.


There is something therapeutic about buying fruit and veg.  I love the variety of colour.  Borough Market, London, is one of my favourite places to shop for fruit and veg but usually I buy from the farm shop in my village; seasonal veg is local and tastes and lasts longer than supermarket equivalents – as long as you don’t mind a bit of dirt and rather wonky veg!  I also really enjoy prepping veg; chopping, slicing and dicing is very relaxing I find.  Prep might take a little longer but many veg dishes are speedy to cook (stir fry) for example and wonderfully colourful to look at.  Spices and herbs help give wonderful flavours.  During the holidays I batch cook curries, bolagnese and casseroles for busy days in term times to make sure I don’t make the wrong choices.


A typical day’s food on a school day would be a protein shake made with frozen fruit, protein powder, oats, spinach and almond milk.  Quick to make and drink but filling and nutritious.  Nuts and dried fruit for break and a hearty salad with fruit after for lunch.  Dinner might be frittata and a green veg or salad.  I do eat cake, biscuits and chocolate but mainly at the weekend.  I find my diet is really varied, gives me energy and helps keep me healthy.  My favourite cook books are Delia Smith’s and Hugh Fearnley-WHittingstall’s vegetarian cookbooks.  Many people aren’t vegetarian but eat meat free once or twice a week.  I’d love to hear some of your favourite vegetarian recipes or if you try something for the first time.

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I will be presenting at #Pedagoohampshire16 this year and my session is titled recovery bags for year 11. Revision period is, for me as head of department and class teacher, one of the most intense and perhaps stressful periods of the year. Exams come at the end of the academic year when both teachers and students are tired. As a non core subject we have to compete with the importance of core and with all other subjects for revision sessions. After school sessions can only happen in my school Tuesday or Thursday as Monday we have meetings and Wednesday is training. I think revision should be happening all year with the intensity building from January until end of term in May when our students go on study leave. This contrasts with some students who think it should start the week before the exams!


At my session I will be sharing the revision recovery bags we give to our students and what we put inside them to help them revise. I’ll be talking about how we share this with parents and how we’ve changed this over the two years we’ve used them. I’m hoping this will start a discussion on what other teachers do in their schools to support students with revision. How do you ensure they are ready for exams? How do you balance your subject with others? How do you help students get a balance between revision and life? How do you balance your own well-being at this difficult time with the increased requests for revision sessions after school, at lunch and before school? I’ve felt the revision bags have helped my well-being by providing as many opportunities for my students as possible but I’m looking forward to discussing them with you to make them even better.
See you in September.

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Teacher5aday – one year on

I started teacher5aday a year ago yesterday, kicking off with my first ever blog. It’s been a busy year.  Here’s a brief update.

#Connect –  After my first teachmeet in June I went to #pedagoohampshire organised by @MartynRheah.  I started a learning conversation about exercise and got to meet more great people from my PLN.  Followed this up with #WomenEd unconference in October.  I left that meeting with my head buzzing from all the inspiring talks I’d heard/been involved in.  What was especially good about this was that I experienced this with my teacher daughter.  Finally I now connect regularly with teachers on Twitter who support, challenge and encourage me.

#Exercise – still going to bootcamp and running.  Still can’t run 5K in under 30 mins but I can do it under 31. I’ve also increased my distance to 10k; huge achievement to me as I realised how much about exercise is about state of mind and belief in yourself.  I was lucky enough to get a Fitbit for my birthday in June and it helps to keep me mindful of exercise.  Joining others from my PLN @isright @amyjeetley @treezyoung @rondelle10_b @JennaLucas @KAB21MAC in challenges motivates me to keep trying.  Loving their positivity on this.

#Notice – still trying to keep an eye on the wellbeing of my team. Little wellbeing bag for them at start of new school year and I also did this for about 80 staff in my faculty at the start of term in October.  This was part of a wider initiative started by @abbiemann1982 which lots of teachers got involved and we shared on Twitter. These bags took a bit of bashing on Twitter by some but having received such a positive response  from teaching and support staff I’m keeping going.   They provide a boost to morale and show people are thought of and cared for.

#Learn – well, NPQSL – didn’t pass 3 of the competencies so I’ve resubmitted it and am waiting results.  Not feeling confident. I enjoyed the course and my school thought I had done a good job.  I didn’t enjoy the form filling. If I don’t pass this time I won’t be doing it again.  Feels like a bit of a failure either way.  Learning from others on Twitter about teaching and learning and am looking to continue to improve my classroom practice.  I completed a coaching course with my school.

#Volunteer – still running bring and share and I’d like to increase participation.  Not sure how to do that yet.  I’m coaching colleagues at school and I’m really enjoying it.  I’m learning a lot about myself at the same time.

#teacher5aday has become part of my life.  It keeps me mindful of my own, and other people’s wellbeing.  If you haven’t joined in, check out the hashtag to find out what’s going on.

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Teacher5aday – update

Six months of teacher5aday and I’ve stuck to it.  Here’s where I’m at as the summer holidays begin.

#Connect.  I went to my first teach meet in June in Brighton and took two of my colleagues with me.  I #volunteered to give a two minute chat on the year 11 revision recovery bags we gave to our students at the start of their revision period.  I was nervous but everyone was very encouraging.  Even better, I got to meet some of the people I #connect with on Twitter and #connect with some new teachers.  Through #teacher5aday started by @MartynReah, 21daysJuly organised by @rondelle10_b and #teacher5adayread organised by @SaysMiss I continue to connect with people as we share book recommendations, challenges and reflections.

#Exercise.  Still going to boot camp regularly.  I’ve found this difficult at times as I’ve been tired after work but I’ve kept going as I always feel better afterwards.  I hope to go lots during the holidays.  I’m also working on my running.  At bootcamp I’m known as ‘one pace Munro’!  I’m having a few PT sessions and have improved already.  My aim is to be able to run 5K in under 30 minutes by the end of the holidays. I’m at about 31.24 mins at the moment.  Yesterday we ran in the woods and did some hill sprints which I really enjoyed.  My confidence is growing.

#Notice.  I’ve noticed how lucky a I am to work with such a great team and how important it is to look after their wellbeing.  I’m planning something for them to help with that first day back.  I’ve continued to #notice how generous teachers are on Twitter, the sharing continues.

#Learn.  I’ve finished my NPQSL and I’m waiting for the results which should arrive during the holidays.  I’ve also taken part in a coaching programme at school so I am now able to coach.  I’m looking forward to coaching and being coached during the next academic year. I hope I can help others and also improve my own performance.  I applied to join the shadow strategy team at school; we’ve been working together for a couple of months and I’ve learned a lot about myself, working in a different team and about leadership.

#Volunteer.  As mentioned I volunteered to give a short chat at the Brighton teach meet and I’ve also signed up to chat for a lot longer at #pedagoohampshire on wellbeing.  I’m really nervous about that as no technology to be used, not sure I’ll be able to keep going for 15 minutes or that anyone will want to listen.  Feel the fear and do it anyway.

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First Term #teacher5aday

Here’s my first term update of #teacher5aday

#connect I’ve made a conscious effort to spend more time with my husband who is not a teacher but has a demanding job of his own. Despite this he does most of the cooking and household chores as I spend time in the evenings working.  I’ve taken to leaving my phone and iPad in another room when we do get to sit down together and this has been great at keeping me in the moment.  I joined staffrm.io and since writing and reading stories on there I have #connected with so many new people who have been incredibly supportive.  

#Exercise.  This one has been quite easy, I’ve kept up going to bootcamp and I’ve started running again now the evenings are lighter and the weather is a bit better.  I workout with great people of all fitness levels. We laugh a lot too so #exercise continues to keep me fit and healthy both physically and mentally.

#Notice.   With spring finally here it has been great to #notice everything coming to life.  Lots of lambs in the fields and daffodils in the garden.  I continue to strive to #notice how those are around me and with the busy exam revision season in full-swing this will be doubly important as we return to work tomorrow.

#Learn.  I’ve learnt a lot about myself this term.  I’ve #learned a lot about teaching both through the NPQSL courses I’ve been doing but also through the stories I’ve read and written on staffrm.io.  It’s made me think about my teaching and challenge some of my ideas.  I’ve taken lots of practical ideas away and I hope I’ve given some to others to try.

#Volunteer.  I’ve #volunteered comments on staffrm.io and #volunteered to share resources with other teachers.  The bring and share I set up at work has been going for a term now and I continue to volunteer to run it.

I still tweet about #teacher5aday but not everyday.  However, I try to keep it in my mind to ensure that my wellbeing doesn’t get forgotten.  We have a very short Easter break, 6 days.  I made a conscious effort to work on thE first day only.  I kept to it.  Now to get through exam season!

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#Teacher5aday – just the beginning

January has passed and I have completed a month of #teacher5aday inspired by @MartynReah.    January and February have always been difficult months for me as the short, dark days seem never ending.  Driving to and from work in the dark, being in the classroom, not being outside in  daylight all make spring seem far away.  However, #teacher5aday has made me mindful of my health and wellbeing this year and I have found January much easier to cope with.

The #exercise has been key for me.  I’ve gone to bootcamp and PT sessions whatever the weather and there has been real satisfaction in completing a session despite frost, sleet, rain or snow.  Apart from improving my fitness it’s also helped to lift my spirits, give me energy and help me sleep better. #Exercise is a winner.

I’ve also encouraged some of my team at work to join in and we have been doing one bootcamp a week together.  Sometimes more laughing than exercise has gone on!  #Exercise, #connect.

I #volunteered to set up ‘bring and show’ on alternate weeks for colleagues to share ideas, resources and strategies and enjoy a coffee and breakfast together.  So far there have been two and I’ve already #learned new strategies.  Perhaps more importantly I’ve spoken to staff I rarely see  as they work in different departments in other parts of the school.  I’ve thought about the wellbeing of others and brought a little cheer into the department with winter wellbeing bags inspired by @abbiemann1982.

I’ve really enjoyed reading on twitter how others have been keeping up with their wellbeing and this has also inspired me to keep going and try new things.  Twitter can provide great support between teachers, what a caring lot we are.

I’ve #noticed how much better I have felt this month than I usually do in January.  #Teacher5aday might be officially over but a I intend to keep it going all year.  I might not be tweeting about my progress every day but I will be keeping up my daily list to keep myself mindful.


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