Mrs Humanities

Because I'm married to the job.


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Mrs Humanities shares… why I’ll continue to talk about teacher wellbeing and mental health

If you’re a twitter user, you may have noticed that this weekend a prominent, highly-regarded teacher offered an opinion about mental health and wellbeing that was rather controversial and for some, including myself, upsetting to come across.

The tweet read:

Twitter at your best: Sharing ideas. Pooling resources. Generating debate.
Twitter at your worst: Droning on about your mental health / wellbeing as if you work down a Victorian bloody coalmine. Get a grip.

I’m not going to name and shame as the tweet has now been removed. However before it was deleted there had been a barrage of more than 250 responses striving to counteract the statement made. It was pleasing to see that not a single response had been in agreement and that so many came out in support.

A bit of a shock!

When I first read the tweet I was flabbergasted that a member of the teaching community that I held in high esteem, could say such an insensitive thing. I retweeted with a comment explaining how I was ever grateful that I’ve been able to talk about my mental health and wellbeing over the last 3 years and left it at that.

However it stuck with me throughout the night and by morning I was rather angry. I had to respond directly so I outlined how being able to talk about and share by experience online meant I was able to accept my experience and later recuperate from the depression and breakdown.

However I also felt ashamed, firstly ashamed that others could feel this way about such an important issue and secondly because it brought back how I felt before I brokedown in Spring 2016 when I’d been too scared to face the reality of my mind and emotions. It’s really hard to hear others speak of mental health and wellbeing like it doesn’t matter, because when you’ve come so close to ending everything because of work-place stress, you know full well it’s not something to dismiss.

Worst thing is I’m not alone.

As a result of willingly sharing my experience, I’ve been in the position whereby not one but two fellow teachers have contacted me to discuss their mental state. One told me what they were planning on doing at the time, the other didn’t until weeks later. It was heartbreaking to hear, however, if they hadn’t reached out on those nights it could have been a very different story for them, their families and their schools. That’s two people that needed to talk, but there are countless others in similar circumstances. For instance, the Education Support Partnership year-on-year are seeing rising numbers contact them, in the year 2018/19 they saw a +28.1% cases compared to 2016/17. What a rise.

But there are also those that never reach out, that keep their challenges hidden and those that eventually leave the profession because it gets too much to deal with. We can’t hide from the issue.

We’ve got to keep talking!

Mental health challenges are easily hidden and without talking, how are we to uncover them? How to we de-stigmatise them? How do we make people feel okay about how they feel? How do we get people to reach out for help?

We need to talk and we need to look after and out for each other; be it ourselves, our colleagues or our students. We need to normalise the discussion, we need to normalise any need for support and we need everyone to know that it is okay to not feel okay. Society and individuals need that as much as schools do.

We all deserve to be happy.

Staff in schools have as much right to positive wellbeing, to be happy and to live free from excessive work-place stress just as much as the young people we work with. No body should be made to feel ashamed about their mental and physical health or their wellbeing and no one should be made to feel ashamed about talking about either.

I’m in a fortunate position whereby I have been able to publicly verbalise how many others are feeling. I’m contacted daily by teachers, school leaders and support staff about their wellbeing or lack of as the case usually is, each one fearful of saying anything whether it be to their schools, their loved ones or a professional. They don’t want to be seen as weak, inadequate, failing or add in any other negative connotation. But having the ability to speak to someone that has been through similar helps, it most certainly helped me. I was kindly offered support by a highly experienced geography teacher that had been through several of his own breakdowns and mental health challenges. His words lifted me on some of my darker days because he understood better than any of my friends or family could. Not only had he had similar mental health challenges, he was a teacher too. He understood. And that’s what is needed. Understanding and empathy.

Too many of those I speak to, meet or listen to say their school leaders, line managers, head of department or the like, lack it. That they’ve been told to get themselves together, that they’ve been told to grin and bear it, they’ve been told that everyone finds it hard they’re not the exception etc.

That’s not how we should treat one another; that’s not how we normalise mental health; that’s not how we save lives.

Teaching broke me. But it also helped me.

I’m stronger, braver and prouder now than I’ve ever been and that’s thanks to teaching and Edutwitter. I know I’ve been able to help others, whilst so many have unknowingly helped me. And so…

I’m standing proud and owning my mental health.
I’m standing proud and talking about mental health.
I’m standing proud and normalising mental health.

Why?

Because mental health matters and so do you!

Need help? Who can you talk to?

The Education Support Partnership are the only UK charity dedicated to improving the wellbeing and mental health of education staff in schools, colleges and universities. They have a 24/7 helpline if you need to talk about anything, whether it be professional or personal they are there to help.

Alternatively, find someone with #Talk2meMH on twitter. They are happy to talk not as a professional but as a friend. Some have been through their own challenges others have significant understanding and empathy.

Either way, if you need to reach out and talk, ensure you do so.

Best wishes,

P.S. I’m fundraising for Ed Support by walking 100km in 48 hours from London to Brighton next May. To find out more or to donate check out my Just Giving page here.


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Resource – Metacognition in Lessons

If you haven’t already read my post on metacognition in the classroom, I’d suggest started there as it provided some context to the resource I’m sharing in this post.

I first came across the term ‘meta-cognition’ 4 years into my teaching career when I attended a Stretch and Challenge Conference back in 2015. Yet I’d been applying meta-cognitive strategies since I started teaching. Once I was able to put a name to the strategies I employed it opened up a world of other examples, evidence and approaches. Since then it forms a regular part of my teaching practice and is fundamental to the feedup-feedback-feedforward cycle that’s constantly implemented in my classroom.

As a subject leader however, I didn’t feel it was as embedded across my department as I would have liked. So over the summer I set about creating a resource that would help my team to apply metacognitivie practices in their classroom. It started with a PowerPoint split into two parts, first part information and guidance on metacognition for staff whilst the second part consisted of question slides for use with students. I don’t use the resource myself, however these are the kinds of questions I ask students as we plan, as they work, as they reflect and as we evaluate.

I hope the PowerPoint is a resource from which my colleagues will extract ideas from for their own lesson planning.

Teacher Slides

I’ll be making use of these in the first subject collaboration session later in this term to outline what metacognition is and how it should be applied within geography as part of our day to day teaching practice.

Student Slides

These slides are simply a range of questions associated with the following stages of the teaching process used in MYP Geography:

  • Planning (feed-up)
  • Monitoring (feedback – student to teacher, peer to peer)
  • Evaluation (feedback – student to teacher, teacher to student)
  • Reflection (feedforward)

One of my objectives for the last academic year was to develop student understanding of MYP I&S Criterion B – Investigation (more info here). This meant developing our students understanding of inquiry planning, effective research, academic honesty and assessment of sources within the context of geography. Many of the questions incorporated in the student slides I’ve incorporated into the resources I’ve been building to develop the elements above (I’ll write more about these in due course).

If you’d like a copy of the Powerpoint, simply click here. Hope you can find it of use.

Best wishes,


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Mrs Humanities shares… useful Google Drives from generous teachers

I’ve come across some very useful tweets whereby teachers are sharing resources they’ve created via a Google Drive (or similar) as opposed to Tes or other resource sharing platforms. But since they tend to highlight their resources via twitter it can often be hard to come across them in a web search. In order to help highlight the fantastic resources others are kindly sharing I thought I’d put together a list to share with you, with many thanks to their creators. If you know of one I’ve not yet listed, please feel free to comment or tweet me with links.

This post will appear on both MrsHumanities.com and Magpied Pedgagogy and will be updated as and when I come across new ones so you may wish to bookmark it.

NOTE: As most of these are Google Drives you will probably find that you need to login to Google otherwise the folders will appear empty.

Let’s start with something I set up a while ago but never launched. One for all the Geography teachers.

National Geography Department Google Drive is a way of geography teachers to upload and share resources. Simply upload to this folder and they will then be moved to one of the other folders which can be found here. Once moved the resources are view only. Please name documents by topic and key stage they are designed for.

General Resources

Jamie Clark @XpatEducator has quite a set of accomplishments. I first came across their resources some time ago back when I was Head of Humanities. Their profile now says they are Director of Digital Integration and Enlgish Teacher along with Apple Distinguished Educator, Producer of The Staffroom Podcast and Author.

Jamie Clark’s DropBox

Humanities

Mr Classics @MrClassics3 is a classics KS4 Latin and Classics teacher
Mr Classics Google Drive

Denise Freeman @geography_DA is a geography teacher and teaching school lead working in London.
Denise Freeman’s Google Drive

TeamGeog @GeogTeam is a platform to share resources for Key Stages 3,4 and 5 and is managed by @m_chiles and @jennnnnn_x
TeamGeog Google Drive

Rachael Speed @BeingMissSpeed is a Geography NQT based in Hampshire.
Rachael Speed’s Google Drive

Simon Beale @SPBeale is a Head of History, a @ssat lead practitioner and co-founder of @historybookgrp and critical conversations pod.
Simon Beale’s Google Drive

Science

I Teach Boys @ITeachBoys92 is a Science Teacher in London.
I Teach Boys Google Drive

Louise Cass @louisecass is a Science Teacher and former Forensic Scientist.
Louise Cass Google Drive

Miss Keloglou @MissKeloglou is a chemist and chemistry teacher. You’ll have to explore the folders to see their helpful resources.
Miss Keloglou Google Drive

Adam Bilton @heroteach is a Science teacher.
HeroTeach Google Drive

Dr Sue Thaw @aegilopoides is a Head of Science and has shared their revision resources. Again you’ll have to open the folders to see the resources.
Dr Sue Thaw Google Drive

Hope you find these of use and please do highlight to me any others you come across.

Best wishes,


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Resource – Welcome to GCSE Geography (AQA)

Whilst many of us are getting ready for heading back to school I thought I’d share with you my resources for the first few lessons with my GCSE students. Although it’s all one PowerPoint, I break it up as required.

I start the year off by outlining the course, the examinations and specification content.

Followed by the course outline, what they can expect and what they need to get started. At this point I’l give out books to those that wish to continue working in a book and ensure those that wish to use a folder have paper.

Next I explore the support available to students and how we encourage them to ask for help if they need it.

Next I’ll go into reviewing subject content. This year I’ll be getting students to return to subject content from year 9. They covered The Challenge of Resource Management in terms 5 and 6 and therefore I’d like to see what they can recall.

I’ll be starting with a bit of retrieval using a question grid.

Students will then self-assess as we discuss and review the answers.

Students will then use what they learnt in all three topics in year 9 to the discuss the link between resources and conflict.

This acitivity has been inspired by this resource on TeachItGeography.

I’ve taken the images out of my PowerPoint but you can find them at the above link if you wish to use them.

I’m then going to introduce ACE feedback to those I’ve not taught before by getting them to peer assess.

If time, they will make improvements and then peer assess again using PA Points focusing on terminology. Again inspired by the resource above.

In one of the following lessons, once the Assessment for Learning booklets are printed and ready to go I will then cover being responsible learners, assessment for learning and feedback in Geography.

I find that explaining feedback to students particularly useful in supporting them to understand how, where and when they will receive feedback and what to do with it. I also find it important to help them to understanding that the teacher is not the only one that can help them in their learning.

In addition I give students a copy of the ‘Welcome to Geography’ sheet and ask them to glue into the front of their book or folder for reference. This provides them with essential information as suggestions for GCSE Geography Revision. This year however I’ve added it to the AfL booklet.

If you’d like to download the powerpoint and sheet click here.

A few others have adapted and made their own versions for other specs.

OCR (A) Geographical Themes by Vicki Reed, @VickiLouise17

OCR B – Geography for enquiring minds (J384) by Natalie Batten, @Nat_Batten

Both can be found in the folder above.

If you’ve made use of the ‘Welcome to GCSE Geography’ document for other Geography exam boards or other subjects, get in touch and I will add them to the post.

Hope you can find the resources of use.

Best wishes for the new academic year.


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A to (almost) Z of Feedback NOT Marking

All marking is feedback, but not all feedback is marking. Simple.

Build a toolkit of feedback strategies – as you develop the art of feedback, try lots of strategies to find what works for you, your students and your school.


Children need to understand the value of feedback to be able to make use of it effectively and to understand when and how they might receive it.

Don’t expect changing from marking to feedback to be easy, it requires…
Education – educate the school community on how feedback is provided so students and parents understand that written marking isn’t the only way to receive feedback

Errors – exposure to errors in a safe environment is beneficial, celebrate mistakes with students and explore how to correct them. I like to give ‘risk-taker’ commendations for those that share their errors with the class, promoting a sense of achievement in despite of the error. Additionally it builds resilience and works on the concept of growth mindset.

Feedup-feedback-feedforward cycles have changed the way I lesson plan, read more on these here.

Give no marking a try for a week or two or potentially longer, to help you to review the other ways in which you provide feedback to students. Make a conscious effort to look for the impact of different feedback strategies.

Hightlighters – so many uses for highlighters in the provision of feedback, you can use them during live marking, use them identify where work needs review, use them to highlight achieved success criteria or what to do next, use them for dot marking, highlight and improve or whatever else.

Introduce strategies to students. Explain to your students the why and how of each strategy you implement with them to enable them to understand the reasoning behind it and how it will benefit them.

Jot down notes as you assess work to feed-forward into your short, medium and long-term planning.

Knowledge, understanding and application (skills) – effective assessment ought to develop all these elements over time. I find it hard when teachers set targets for students that are only knowledge specific to the current piece of content or topic.

Live feedback, also known as live marking. Simple really, assess and feedback there and then in the lesson. More reading on live feedback here.

Model and scaffold effective feedback to students to help them to peer assess effectively. I start the school year with a few simple tasks that can easily be peer assessed, we peer assess as a class, in small groups and individually until independent. I will start off by providing relevant feedback comments/targets that students can select from and ask them to justify why they selected that comment/target. By Christmas the majority of students can carry out effective peer assessment with limited scaffolding.

Next steps – I find that using next steps promotes high expectations, even when work is complete and the student successful there’s always next steps that can be made to further develop knowledge and application. I praise successes but unless it’s a summative assessment students know to expect to be asked to do something else to their work to make it even better.

Outcomes – always keep these in mind. What do you want students to achieve in the long, medium and short term? How will feedback help students to achieve these outcomes?

Peer assessment can be powerful – creating a feedback friendly classroom is no easy feat. it requires teaching, training and persistence to get students to feedback effectively. The use of ACE and SpACE peer assessment has supported the development of effective peer-to-peer feedback in my classroom.

ACE Peer assessment

Quality over quantity – to reduce the amount of formative and summative assessment and thus quantity of targets students are asked to work on, in my department at KS3 we give assess two formative pieces of work and a summative. The formative tasks students receive constructive feedback on which allow them to create transferable targets that can be applied both in the summative task and the future learning. The summative task provides students with targets the next unit and future learning. At KS4 and 5, we assess 2-3 sets of past paper questions and a test for each topic. Feedback from the PPQs is given via feedback codes and share through whole class feedback, written marking is carried out and whole class feedback takes place on summative tests. Students annotate their work as whole class feedback is provided – making amendments there and then. Students set themselves transferable targets in response.

Research and reading – there’s lots of research and evidence out there on the role and value of feedback in the classroom. Here’s a few pieces to start you off:

The Power of Feedback, John Hattie
Visible Learning: Feedback, John Hattie & Shirley Clarke
Feedback, Education Endowment Foundation

Transferable targets – from my experience to date I feel transferable targets are the most valuable. Ask questions to help students to gain the correct answers but targets require a transferable element to them so there is the opportunity to act on them on the short and medium term.

Statements or questions? When it comes to ‘next steps’ I’m not sure which works best in helping students to progress, a question that helps them to reframe their thinking or a statement that tells them exactly what they need to do. Most of the time I use a mix of both to draw knowledge and understanding out from them.

Throw away your verbal feedback stamps! You do not need to ‘prove’ you are feedback to students verbally. It will be obvious in their work.

Undervalued – we must move away from marking to feedback in our schools to reduce the burden of marking and increase the power of feedback in the classroom.

Verbal feedback is powerful. The power of verbal feedback often goes unseen, you may not see direct evidence of verbal feedback in books or classwork however if you talk to students they can explain how verbal feedback has helped them. It’s timely and can have immediate impact, don’t try evidencing it but instead work on embedding it.

Whole class feedback is nothing new, but how we approach it has changed. Many teachers now use crib sheets to guide the provision of whole class feedback. For more information and examples check out this post of examples.

X – not even going to try

You can’t evidence all feedback and nor should you have to. The evidence is in the progress made by students.

Z – again not going to try

Hope you enjoyed the post.

Best wishes,


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Mrs Humanities shares… A peek inside my department handbook

Recently I’ve had a lot of requests for copies of my department handbook. Is there a sudden surge in people being asked to create them or is it just the time of year that people are updating those they already possess? Hrm?

Anyway, due to it being a school document that I have partly created during the school day I don’t feel I have the right to share it. Therefore instead, I will explain what mine consists of along with a few screenshots. I hope that helps those of you that are creating or updating yours, but please do not ask me for a copy as I will not be able to send it to you I’m afraid. However, I have created a template that you may wish to make use of, find it here.

Contents

  1. Academic Statement
  2. Department Vision
  3. Department Staffing – roles and responsibilities
  4. Teaching load – who’s teaching what
  5. Other responsibilities – e.g. extra-curricular, extended essays etc.
  6. Curriculum – break down of KS3 (MYP), KS4 (GCSE) and KS5 (IB)
  7. Assessed work expectations
  8. Lesson Observations – expectations and responsibilities
  9. Lesson Planning – expectations for teaching and learning over time
  10. Feedback and Assessment – expectations and strategies
  11. Student Assessment for Learning – outline of the AfL sheets we use with students
  12. Revision and Exams
  13. Reports
  14. Behaviour and rewards
  15. Trips and Fieldwork
  16. Day-to-Day housekeeping

I’ve learnt a thing or two this year which means I’ve put a bit more in, with the aim of making things explicitly clear to aid consistency and professional development.

Academic Statement and Department Vision

These two pieces layout the basis of what it means to teach our subject, the former, the academic statement, seeks to set out the role of Geography.

Why is it worth studying?
What value does it have?
What do we want students to take away from their geographical studies over the 3, 5 or 7 years in which they study it?

The latter, the department vision is then an outline of how we as a department are going to achieve the above and how our department fits into the whole school vision and development plan.

How will we make Geography a subject worth studying?
How will we demonstrate its value in the curriculum and beyond?
How will our department contribute to the whole school vision?
How will our department contribute to the school's development?

I believe this section needs the buy in of all staff. During my first year here, I sat down with those in my department to create both of these. I had my ideas, but I wanted to have their input too. Since then I’ve had a new member of staff join the department each year due to the progression of others and I’ve failed in creating the statement and vision collectively.

This September we’ve two new members of staff joining the department, meaning a fresh start really as the other remaining member of staff joined us this academic year. My plan for our CPD day in September then is to sit down together and create a new academic statement and department vision as a collective. I believe it’s important for everyone to feel they have a contribution to make to the success of the department and a say in how we do it. I want us all to be aiming for the same thing and to be able to see where we are going together collectively.

Additionally, I know my vision has changed since I started as subject leader 3 years ago. These statements need to reflect the developments in my geographical knowledge, practice and general pedagogy as well as whole school changes.

Department Staffing, Teaching Load and Other Responsibilities

What this section includes is quite self explanatory really.

The staffing table outlines the position each person plays in the department, the responsibilities of their role and their teaching load. This is to enable staff to seek support and guidance from the right people, it’s to help teachers collaborate across year groups and key stages and to allow staff to identify their strengths in the provision of other responsibilities e.g. trainee mentors, extra-curricular, field-trips etc.

Curriculum

This section breaks down the curriculum by key stage, providing vital information about the topics and specifications studied, the examinations undertaken and the options selected.

This section also refers the user to important documents such as the exam specifications, the programme of learning for each key stage and the assessment for learning booklets and documents.

Assessed work expectations

We don’t mark general classwork at GCSE and IB, just past paper questions which are undertaken throughout a topic. This equates to 1 set of PPQs every 2-3 weeks. This is how we assess student’s application of knowledge. In lessons we then use assessment for learning strategies to check for understanding.

For consistency, expectations for assessed work are set out explicitly in the handbook.

This year I’m introducing a change to our testing procedures. Rather than giving end of topic tests at the end topic, students will not sit the test for a minimum of 2 weeks after they have finished it. Although I am considering making it so that end of topic tests are done at the end of the next topic, however I’d like input from my ‘new’ department and line manager on this before any final decisions are made.

Lesson Observations

This section merely outlines what should and what doesn’t need to be provided for a formal or informal lesson observation in accordance with the whole school policy. It also directs staff to lesson observation documents such as the observation feedback form, 5 minute lesson plan etc.

Lesson Planning

Really this section should be called learning planning, but I don’t like how it sounds so I’ve stuck to lesson planning.

It is something I’ve added this year for consistency and is an outline of what should be evident in teaching and learning over time. It would not be expected to see evidence of all of this in a lesson observation, nor evident just in books.

Instead sources of evidence would include discussions with staff, classwork, homework, lesson resources, assessment for/of learning, data, conversations with students, collaborative planning, units of inquiry, etc.

Feedback and Assessment

This section discusses the importance of feedback and assessment for/of learning in all its forms. Here staff are referred to the Power of Feedback document for further reading for the logic and evidence for the strategies outlined.

This section then provides a range of feedback strategies that staff have the autonomy to mix and match providing that students receive regular feedback from the teacher or peers to enable them to develop and progress.

More on the strategies that make up our Feedback NOT Marking ‘policy’ here.

Student Assessment for Learning

In supporting our students to become independent learners, we use assessment for learning sheets at KS3 and booklets at KS4 & 5. These enable students to track their progress along with set and track their personal targets.

This section aids the teacher in explaining to students how to use their AfL documents.

The remainder of the handbook

The remaining sections are just basic details that outline where to go for information on and resources for revision, exams and reports

There’s a bit that outlines our departmental approach to rewards and behaviour. There’s an outline of responsibilities for trips and fieldwork and some general day-to-day information that maybe of interest to new members of staff.

I hope this is of use.

If you have any questions, feel free to contact me.

Best wishes,


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Mrs Humanities shares… twitter highlights #5

Wow, what happened to that gained time after my GCSE and IB groups left? This term has been hectic so there’s been a lack of posts this month. But here’s a small one with my most recent twitter highlights. You’ll notice a bit of a theme with the geography highlights.

Hope you find something of use!

Geography

History

Other Subjects

Teaching and Learning

Wellbeing, workload and whatever else

And this one…. well it’s about me *chuckles*

Have a great week.

Best wishes,

My book ‘Making it as a Teacher’ is now released.Click the image to find out more about it.


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Mrs Humanities shares… twitter highlights #4

Wow, this term has started with chaos; stomach bug, camps, interdisciplinary activities and trips, end of year exams to mark…. as a result I’ve not posted a blog since the end of May. So I thought I’d start with Twitter Highlights number 4, I’ve added a few extra ones in since I’ve missed two weeks.

Hope you find something of use in the highlights below.

Geography

History

Other Subjects

Teaching and Learning

Wellbeing, workload and whatever else

And this one just made me chuckle

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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Mrs Humanities shares… Twitter Highlights #3

Geography

History

Other Subjects

Teaching and Learning

Wellbeing, workload and whatever else


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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!