Mrs Humanities

Because I'm married to the job.


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What to do when you burnout

At the start of this year’s Mental Health Awareness week, I wrote this post but I must admit I was weary of publishing it. I worried it might come across as being condescending since there’s plenty of information available on managing and recovering from burnout from professional organisations. But after mentioning it on twitter, the positive response encouraged me to put it out there because if it helps just one person, that makes it beneficial.

However, before I get started I do just want to say that I’ve written this as a result of my experience of burnout resulting from workplace stress, these steps are my perspective of what helps.


I’m not writing this with the expectation that many will reach burnout, but with the notion that some will. Teachers, school leaders and support staff shouldn’t be experiencing burnout as a result of work place stress (nor those in other professions) however it happens. Even when preventative measures are taken, sometimes our work and mind drive us to breaking point and we can’t keep going the way that we are.

So, what should you do when you reach that point? When you feel like you can no longer go on with the job you once loved? You’ve hit a brick wall and can’t keep going. Where do you go from there?

Stop

Firstly, you need to stop. You need to step away from the situation that has led you to this point and reduce the stress. This may involve speaking to your employer and temporarily reducing your timetable or responsibility, it may require a day or two off of work or it maybe that you need to speak to your GP and take a prolonged period of sick leave.

It can be hard to take that break whether it be for the rest of the week, the month or term but it’s a valuable process that will allow you to find your way again.

Reach out

Having been through burnout and knowing others that have experienced it too, I know it’s not easy to deal with on your own. There are so many questions and thoughts that go through your head – How will you overcome it? Are you making the right decisions? Do people know how your feeling? What will people think if you take time off?

There is plenty of support available, whether it be from loved ones or professionals. It can be hard to speak to those your love when you are struggling with your mental health and that’s okay. Reach out the others instead, organisations such as Mind, Ed Support or local counselling services can provide professional support or you can attempt to find others who will listen in an informal way.

For example there are people on twitter willing to chat and listen, not as a mental health professional but as a friend, with many of those listen having gone through their own experiences.  You can find them by searching for the hashtag #Talk2meMH.

The main thing to remember is that there are plenty of support services out there, whether you’re at crisis point or just need some one to talk to, make sure you reach out and get help as and when required.

Inform

This stage may come at different points for each individual, but I highly recommend informing your employer of your struggles. That way then they can take the necessary, reasonable measures to support you.

They may refer you to Occupational Health. Having experienced it myself, I can say it was far less scary than I imagined it would be. They simply ask you questions about your current situation, what it is that is affecting your ability to work, what you think might help etc. and then they write a report which is sent to your employer to help them to support you in the workplace.

Additionally by informing your employer, it also means that if you experience a mental health condition that does or is likely to last 12 months or more and you can demonstrate that your mental health is a disability you could be covered under the Equality Act 2010 against discrimination at work. More information can be found here.

Invest in you

Whilst you take a break no matter how long or short it maybe, take time to focus on you.

I recommend writing a list of the things that bring you happiness or calm. If you can, try to tick a few off each day. I could have easily stayed in bed when I took time off, whilst for the first few days I had no energy, binged on Netflix and ate whatever junk I had in the cupboards. I knew I had to make an effort to not dwell on things, even though it was so easy to do so. In realising that I made a concerted effort to go for a speed walk every day, I’d plug in my music, turn it up and walk as hastily as possibly. Not only did it get my heart pumping, it would leave me feel exhausted helping me to sleep.

Take time to do what you enjoy and don’t feel guilty about it (or at least try not too). Invest in your body and mind, because by doing so you’ll enable the recovery process.

Reassess

Whilst you take a step away or back from the situation, take time to reflect and reassess. Consider your situation, what do you enjoy about it? what do you find most stressful? Is it the job, TLR or the school?

You could merely take time to think and reflect or go a step further and jot down your thoughts and reflections. Do whatever works for you.

For me, my reassessment of the situation came from talking to the Education Support Partnerships helpline. During the first call the counsellor asked me to tell them about my current position, before encouraging me to consider what the issue was and what the solution could be. They helped me to assess the situation and make the decision to see my GP. From there I was able to reassess and consider what I wanted the result to be. Which leads me nicely on to the next stage.

Plan

Once you have reassessed, plan the next steps. What do you want the outcome to be? How will you achieve it? Whether it be a better work-life balance, reduced responsibility or a complete career change, have in mind what you want and consider the steps to get there.

It maybe difficult to determine and finding the confidence to then take that first step isn’t exactly easy but having that plan and aim insight does help.

For example, I debated with myself and my family a lot about whether I’d just hand my notice in and leave teaching or give one more school a try. After reassessment I decided I loved teaching and that it might not be the profession itself that was the problem. So after much encouragement I took the first step on my plan, which was apply for jobs at other schools. When I found a position I feared it maybe more of the same, but during the interview process my fears we eased and I’m still there now.  

Recovery

The final stage is recovery of course.

I will be honest and say that recovering from burnout is a journey, and it can be a long one. It takes time for your body and mind to recover from the physical and emotional exhaustion. There may be relapses where stress, anxiety or other mental challenges arise and get too much but you won’t ever be completely alone. You can and will overcome it.

It might require major changes in your life, but it is possible to recoup and recover.  If you want evidence, take a read of this piece I did for Ed Support – https://www.educationsupportpartnership.org.uk/blogs/5-breakthroughs-made-me-better-teacher


Final thoughts

Burnout is a natural response to repeated and continued stress, our tolerance levels vary and what stresses some of us, won’t stress others. It important to remember we are all different and manage stress in different ways. If you know someone that is experiencing or close to experiencing burnout, reach out to them, listen to them and support them as best you can. Reassure them that things can and do get better, it just takes time, help and a bit of patience.

I hope those of you that might find this relevant find it useful. Feel free to get in contact if you want to chat before reaching out to loved ones or professionals.

Best wishes,

If you enjoy reading my blog, you might be interested in my first book due for release 28th May. Click the image to find out more or to pre-order it. Massive thanks in advance if you do!

making it as a teacher victoria hewett


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Resource – IB Geography Inquiry Booklets Core Unit 2

After teaching the new specification in full, I could see the bigger picture a lot clearer. After reflection and much consideration I decided that I’d try to split the core into theory and then located inquiries. Last week I shared my booklets for Unit 1 – Changing Population, this week I’m sharing my booklets for Unit 2 – Global climate.

Similarly to the Changing Populations inquiry, the topic starts by covering the geographical theory and the more generalised impacts of climate change on the hydrosphere, atmosphere and biosphere, before moving on to look at the impacts and response from 3 located studies.

The booklets contains everything the students need – an outline of the course content covered, the statement of inquiry, list of key terminology, outline of geographical theory and activities to undertake along with videos, articles, case study templates, things to discuss, images etc.

Theory includes:

  • Layers of the atmosphere
  • The Global Energy Budget
  • Greenhouse Effect – Natural and Enhanced
  • Global Warming and Global Dimming
  • Planetary Albedo Effect
  • Sources of greenhouse gases
  • The history of climate change
  • Evidence of climate change

Before a look at some of the general impacts of climate change.

Example of Theory Pages

After the theory behind climate change, we begin to explore the impacts of climate change for 3 locations. Each located inquiry starts with a section on background information to provide students with insight into the development and demographics of the named country; providing students with a sense of place and ability to compare. Followed by exploration of the impacts of climate change for different societies within the 3 located studies.

The three located studies are:

  1. USA – focuses on southern states and indigenous communities of Alaska
  2. Maldives – focus on low-lying island communities
  3. Bangladesh – focus on low income communities

The located studies also explore the concept of risk and vulnerability, along with the responses to climate change both in terms of adaptation and mitigation.

Case Study: USA
Case Study: Maldives
Case Study: Bangladesh

The topic ends with one final inquiry into the responses to climate change from a governmental perspective.


Resources

And now the part that is of most use to you. A link to the documents for download. Simply click here to download all the resources for IBDP19 Core Unit 2 – Global Climate.

Click here for resources for Unit 1 – Changing Population.

Booklets for unit 3 are currently in progress and will be added to the site when complete.

Hope you can find the resources of use.

If you enjoy reading my blog, you might be interested in my first book due for release 28th May. Click the image to find out more or to pre-order it. Massive thanks in advance if you do!


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Mrs Humanities shares… twitter highlights #2

In the Easter break I thought it’d be a good idea to share some of the weekly highlights I come across on twitter each week. There’s so much great practice on there and whilst I try my best to collate some of it on Magpied Pedagogy, it’s too big a job for one person. So I thought why not share some of the highlights each week on my blog. It gets a pretty big reach and might encourage others to make use of the excellent CPD opportunity Twitter provides.

This here is the second of my twitter highlight posts.

Hope you find something of use in the highlights below.

Geography

History

Other Subjects

Teaching and Learning

Wellbeing, workload and whatever else

Have a great week.

Best wishes,

Not long until my book ‘Making it as a Teacher’ is released, so scared for the 28th May. Click the image to find out more or to pre-order it. Massive thanks in advance if you do!


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Resource – IB Geography Inquiry Booklets Core Unit 1

After teaching the new specification in full, I could see the bigger picture a lot clearer. After reflection and much consideration I decided that I’d try to split the core into theory and then located inquiries.

In January we started the first of the core topics – Unit 1 Changing Population. I started the topic by introducing the theory required on global trends, predictions and momentum, demographic transition, development indicators and dependency ratios.

We then moved onto our first case study, China. Through exploring China we covered the following course content

  • Demographic Transition
  • Population Problems
  • Population Policies
  • Urbanisation
  • Megacity growth
  • Forced migration and internal displacement
Booklet 1 – China

The booklets contains everything the students need – an outline of the course content covered, the statement of inquiry, list of key terminology, outline of geographical theory and activities to undertake along with videos, articles, case study templates, things to discuss, images etc.

Page 1 – Statement of Inquiry, Course Content and Geographical Terminology
Geographical Theory and Activities
Activities associated with theory

Each located inquiry starts with a section on background information to provide students with insight into the development and demographics of the named country; providing students with a sense of place and ability to compare.

From China and Singapore we moved onto demographic dividends, gender equality and anti-trafficking. Each starting in the same way, content covered, theory and then located examples.

We looked at South Korea as our located example for demographic dividend followed by gender equality in India and Syria for anti-trafficking.

Demographic Dividend Booklet
Gender Equality and Anti-Trafficking Booklet

Reflection

The students engaged well with the content and the booklets, my only issue with it was getting my head around how to teach using booklets instead of PowerPoint slides. It’s slightly harder as students work through the content at different paces and thus when there is something I wish to go through before they move on I have to stop the whole class to discuss it, to watch the videos etc. even if some haven’t finished the previous task. I have to consider how to get around this.

One of the main issues being that some students choose to use a digital device and thus have access to the booklet in the lesson, whilst others don’t so printing of the main resources (news articles etc.) has been required. It’s not an issue at all just that I need to remember to print off the articles and other vital resources.

Resources

And now the part that is of most use to you. A link to the documents for download. Simply click here to download all the resources for IBDP19 Core Unit 1 – Changing Population.

Climate Change is currently in progress and will be added to the site when complete.

Hope you can find the resources of use.

If you enjoy reading my blog, you might be interested in my first book due for release 28th May. Click the image to find out more or to pre-order it. Massive thanks in advance if you do!


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Mrs Humanities shares… twitter highlights #1

In the Easter break I thought it’d be a good idea to share some of the weekly highlights I come across on twitter each week. There’s so much great practice on there and whilst I try my best to collate some of it on Magpied Pedagogy, it’s too big a job for one person. So I thought why not share some of the highlights each week on my blog. It’s gets a pretty big reach and might encourage others to make use of the excellent CPD opportunity Twitter provides.

This here is the first of my twitter highlight posts.

Hope you find something of use in the highlights below.

Geography

History

Other Subjects

T&L

Wellbeing, workload and whatever else

Enjoy the long weekend!

Best wishes,

Not long until my book ‘Making it as a Teacher’ is released, 28th May. Click the image to find out more or to pre-order it. Massive thanks in advance if you do!


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Mrs Humanities shares… 5 highlights from EduTwitter

I had a brain wave this morning. You know the kind you have and then think why hadn’t I thought of that before?!

It’s a simple idea really, but goes a long way to highlighting the amazing work being done and shared via twitter for those of you that don’t make use of it for CPD.

For me, Twitter has had a huge impact on my professional practice from inspiring lesson resources to ideas for supporting colleagues, there’s so much you can take away from EduTwitter (see my A-Z of EduTwitter for more info). So here it is, my simple idea is to share 5 tweets that have inspired or interested me each week that I think others may find of use.

Now I just need to work out which day is best to publish? Monday, Friday or Sunday? Hrm… I’ll have a think and set it up from the first week of the next term.

For now, here’s 5 tweets that I think might be of use or inspiration to others:

Knowledge Organisers for Religious Studies GCSE from @MrSmithRS

Geography Teaching Resources from @MrTomlinsonGeog

Teaching resources to support learners with this years RGS Young Geographer of the Year competition from @KCGeographies

Medicine through the Ages Revision Rap from a colleague of @HistTeach55

Finally, this fun little number on workload and wellbeing from @carpool4school1 featuring @RossMcGill.

Oh and don’t forget there are almost 1000 ideas over on Magpied Pedagogy.

Is bringing useful tweets to you a good idea? Let me know your thoughts.


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Mrs Humanities explores… how to help teachers be #PeriodProud

I must admit that this isn’t a post I ever thought I would write but my tweet last week had an unexpected response.

You see, I finally took a leap of faith and shared how much I hate having period pains whilst teaching.

I had so many responses, with a large number of female teachers sharing easily avoidable experiences if there was greater understanding and acceptance in the workplace.

When my monthly friend arrives, I get awful pains and I find it incredibly awkward and pretty challenging to carry on when all I want to do is roll up in a ball and scream or cry with sheer pain. And despite the pain, I power through with determination and try to get to the end of the lesson so I can take 5 minutes to recoup.

On occasions I’ve had to step inside my somewhat rather tight classroom cupboard and apply a heat pack, scramble for tablets in my bag and recoil through a cramp. Then I’ve heard a student ask “Where’s Mrs H?” and I pop out of the cupboard with a smile and say “I’m just in the cupboard” and the kids are none the wiser.

More recently though, the heat pack hasn’t be sufficient enough and I’ve had to borrow a hot water bottle from the school nurse. Even in a girls school I find it awkward having to hold a hot water bottle at the same time as trying to teach, all whilst my insides continue to twist and wrangle and squeeze themselves silly.

And my monthly experiences aren’t even the worst of them. In response to my tweet I received over 400 responses from female teachers of all ages. They shared their stories from period pains to accidental leaks, there were discussions of the symptoms of endometriosis to those associated with the menopause along with many other conditions or situations that make the monthly cycle a whole lot worse.

I feel ashamed that there has been many an occasion I’ve gone to write a tweet about period pains and each time I’ve got too embarrassed and deleted it. However it’s such a natural process, why are we so scared to discuss it?

We might well teach about menstruation yet as a society we still seem to hide and shy away from discussing periods and the like. It’s a shame that periods still seem to be such a taboo subject, even though at times our periods can cause great discomfort for both teachers and learners.

The Discomfort

When it comes to periods, for some the discomfort comes in the form of spasms of pain, for others it’s being unable to make it to the toilet throughout the day, and then there are those that experience such heavy flows that they experience regular paranoia associated with leaks.

Along side menstruation, there can be the symptoms of PMS/PMT too. I for one find that even whilst I’m on anti-depressants for up to 10 days before my period arrives I can become an emotional wreck. One minute my emotions can be soaring high, the next they can be diving into the depths of despair. Try handling that in the classroom with 30 odd teenagers looking at you. It’s not easy.

Further more it’s also not easy to talk about it with managers and colleagues, especially with male colleagues, mention periods and often they just want the conversation over with as quickly as possible however this could just be my experience.

On that note however I did once have a male colleague that dealt extremely well with me when I burst into the staff room in tears due to the pain, needing someone to cover me and painkillers to which he supplied some incredibly powerful pain relief (thank you Nigel M).

No Time for the Loo

One of the things that cropped up numerous times in the replies was the number of female teachers and school leaders that said they fail to make it to the toilet throughout the school day, whether it’s the time of the month or not. This can cause multiple issues due to bacterial growth such as urinary tract infections, thrush and cystitis, which could potentially lead to time off of work and disruption to learning. We must make time to go.

Breaking the Taboo

After I started to write this piece I started looking into period policies and came across this really interesting Ted Talk on the topic along with the links below.

Menstrual leave: a workplace reform to finally banish the period taboo?

Should The UK Implement a Paid Period Leave Into Work Policies? 

Period Power: Periods in the Workplace

I also think this might be a useful read:

Now I foresee a number of issues with the implementation of ‘period policies’ in schools, however I do think it’s really important that we start talking about the impacts of menstruation on our bodies. By doing so we can create a better working environment to support female workers with menstrual suffering.

How exactly we go about that on a large scale I’m unsure but I certainly believe there are small things that can be done to support female staff in schools and things we can do for ourselves too.

School leaders could:

  • Allow staff to leave the classroom between lessons to take a toilet break.
  • Create a request for support system, so that if a teacher needs to leave the room to deal with menstruation they can do so discreetly whilst another member of staff supervises for a short period of time.
  • Provide hot water bottles for staff (and students) and allow use of them in the classroom.
  • Understand that during this time some teachers may have to take to sitting down rather than wandering and interacting with students as they teach.
  • Ensure there are sufficient toilets for the number of staff (my last school had 1 toilet for about 17 members of staff).

As individuals:

  • Ensure you designate time to go to the toilet. If you have a duty, let someone know you’ll be a few minutes late or ask someone to cover for five minutes. If student’s need to see you, pop a “be right back” notice on the door. Do what you have to do to maintain your health and hygiene.
  • If you are prone to issues, discuss it with your line manager or a colleague that may be able to support you e.g. someone that could cover you for five minutes in between lessons.
  • Be prepared, keep a supply of tablets, heat patches and other comforts (I mean chocolate) in a safe and secure location e.g. a drawers, cupboard or staff room.
  • Stop just saying “it’s just my period”, accept that it can be troublesome, you might need to step away from the classroom for five minutes or more to recoup and for some that a sick day maybe required to deal with the symptoms.

I must admit, I even had trouble writing this post and after some encouragement I returned to it to adapt and finish. I hope I haven’t put off any readers in writing on such a female topic and instead perhaps it has opened the eyes of some teachers or school leaders as to what their colleagues maybe experiencing.

Feel free to add your comments on the topic and take a moment to read this poem of solidarity by @honeypisquared.

Best wishes,


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Request – Word Cloud Contribution

I have an awesome new project in progress and I’m currently putting together a little contribution from others – a word cloud.

I’d love it if you would take less than two minutes to submit the first words that come to mind when you think of feedback and marking.

Add your contributions to the form below


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Resource – Thematic unit on conflict, fortification and armour

When I taught Geography and History through the umbrella of Humanities, we did a lot of thematic topics; exploring concepts over time and space.

I thought I’d share with you the unit we did on conflict, fortification and armour.

Outline

The unit took students through technological advances in conflict, fortification and armour, finishing with a personal interest project.

I remember my year 8’s really enjoying the topic. It gave them insight to different time periods and encouraged them to research and find out more.

Here are some example resources:

The topic covers a range of content and whilst I’ve produced much of it, some elements such as the ‘top trumps’ were free resources available online. Since it was so long ago since I made the lessons (2015) I can’t remember the original sources but if you find one of them is yours please let me know and I will add your name and the source to the piece.

Castles – Type and Location

Siege Warfare

War at Sea

World War 1 – Technological Change


Homework

Homework gave students choice and different levels of challenge.

Week 1 Homework
Week 3 – 7 Homework

Examples of the homework produced




Levels
You will notice some of the resources use National Curriculum Levels and some use GCSE ‘grades’, I’ve just uploaded the resources I had. I clearly hadn’t backed up all of the resources at home before leaving the school. Doh!

If you’d like to access the resources you can do so here.

I’m not a historian, so my apologies if there are any historical inaccuracies, I put a lot of research into the materials and got them checked by my historian husband…. but I’m sure there will be something to be found.

Hope you can find them of use.

U


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Mrs Humanities explores… How the fight against climate change is more than just school strikes and protests.

Yesterday as a number of my students chose to discuss the school strikes on climate change with me, I decided it was time to talk to them about how the fight against climate change goes far beyond policy change. That politicians, governments and world leaders aren’t the only ones that need to take action.

Starting the Discussion

When student’s asked me my thoughts I decided it was time to talk to them about behavioural change. I asked many of them to consider the actions they take to fight climate change. Many of them had little to say except we recycle.

We discussed the benefits of raising awareness through protests and strikes and that through such action we can ask for change, but it also requires us to change.

As a Geographer I teach the science, the evidence and the impacts. We touch on ecological footprints throughout and consider ways to reduce ours, we explore in detail mitigation and adaptation methods too. But I’ve forgotten to put taking action into my curriculum design.

Helpless

Often I think young people feel helpless when it comes to global issues. They have little say in the matters that will concern them in the future. Take the EU referendum for instance, I’ve worked in two schools during the entire process from proposal to now, both very different contexts. However, the EU referendum intrigued the students and engaged them in politics. I remember the day the results were announced and it was all many of my students talked about for the rest of the day; many disappointed, a few pleased others just unsure. But what they understood was that their futures were influenced by the decisions of others and that they had no say in the matter. They felt angered by this. Many of my current students feel the same way.

But acting on climate change is something they can do. We need to empower young people to see that dealing with world issues isn’t beyond their control. If they want to see change in the world, they mustn’t be apathetic about it. Small changes make a big difference. Our choices influence decisions being made my others. For instance, if we start to boycott instead of supporting polluting brands, they will eventually change their ways.

Behavioural Change

Prior to training to teach I worked for several months with Global Action Plan on their EcoTeams project.

EcoTeams originated in the Netherlands in the 1990s and since then over 150,000 people have participated worldwide.

An EcoTeam is a group of householders who get together once a month over a five- to six-month period to follow a step-by-step process of manageable actions on sustainable living. Team members measure their household’s environmental impact, share their experiences and agree together on practical lasting changes.

NSMC
Source: https://www.thensmc.com/resources/showcase/ecoteams

The project involved providing workshops to EcoTeam leaders that would then set up EcoTeams in their local area. The idea being that each team would take weekly changes to their behaviour with the ultimate aim of reducing resource consumption, their ecological footprints and their environmentally detrimental behaviours.

Reflecting on the climate strikes has got me thinking about how we as teachers, school leaders and adults can support young people in changing behaviours, attitudes and ultimately influence policymakers.

Going Forward

Working in an International Baccalaureate schools means we provide opportunities for ‘Creativity, activity, service’ within the diploma and at KS4. We’ve introduced the community project to year 9’s this year and students started to explore ways of taking action in their school community.

Whilst there are plenty of extra-curricular opportunities. This has got me thinking about how to develop this into the curriculum right from year 7.

At present we are teach about energy resources in the UK and within the topic they learn about the UK’s energy mix, the pros and cons of renewables, nuclear and fossil fuels, we explore and debate fracking and consider how the UK could become a ‘Zero Carbon Britain‘. I’m now considering how we can develop activism and behavioural change into this unit.

How do you develop student actions on global issues? Would love to here more on what others are doing, feel free to leave a comment.