Mrs Humanities

teacher . blogger . friend


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Mrs Humanities shares… Tips for Roaming Teachers

Wow, what a week. First full week back and it was certainly different. The number of times I left my whiteboard controller in other classrooms is close to double figures. Running back in the remaining minutes of lesson switch over certainly got my steps up.

I’m obsessed with finding time-saving and workload reducing strategies to enable high quality teaching without an excessive impact on work-life balance. During the last week, I started to consider how I could prepare myself for the day ahead to make lesson transitions quicker and smoother.

The following are some of the things I’ve started or will be implementing to help with life as a roaming teacher, hope you find some of them useful.

Note: A lot of my tips, depend on the use of technology. My school has allowed for students to bring their own devices. I’ll be allowing students KS3/4 students to have their phone on silent and on their desk (facing down) throughout the lesson in case they need to use it.

Feel free to share your #RoamingTeacherTips

Tips for Roaming Teachers

Daily Setup

1. Bookmark the web pages you use of a daily basis. Add them to a bookmark folder and set it up on the bookmark toolbar in your web browser. If you’re using a laptop you can open them up in the morning with one click (see video below) and leave them open all day. If you’re moving from one PC to another, you can do the same at the start of the lesson if required.

How to create bookmark folders and open all at once in Chrome

2. Although I embed the majority of videos into my lesson resources (How-to for embedding into Powerpoints & Word documents) sometimes I find something that I might use if I have time in the lesson or if the students take the lesson in that direction. I’ve therefore been opening these up in the morning and bookmarking them to the lesson folder (see below). At the start of the lesson I open all of the tabs in preparation.

My Bookmark Folders
Sub-folders for each lesson under the main ‘Lesson’ bookmark folder.

Start of Lessons

As a roaming teacher, I’ve so far found that the start of lessons can be somewhat chaotic. Students are generally staying in the same classroom for all lessons, except for options at GCSE, meaning that students are in their seats and often ready before I am. To make this time productive I’ve done/will be doing the following.

3. My year 11 students have been given a pack of 6 GCSE retrieval practice sheets. I’ve assigned one per fortnight of this term and next and instructed that once settled they make a start of the assigned sheet until I am ready to start the lesson. They need to have completed it by the lesson in a fortnights time at which point we will go through the answers and self assess. If they complete prior to the deadline, they can move onto the next sheet in the pack.

4. For other classes, I’ll be setting up short quizzes to complete at the start of the lesson based upon last lessons work. So far, I’ve either not really taught any content, since we’ve had introduction and set up lessons or they’ve only had one content so these are on my to-do for this week. I’ll be using Microsoft Forms and posting the link to the quiz on Teams in the morning. Whilst I set up, students will use their own device (phone, tablet or laptop) to complete. If students don’t have access to their own device, I’m happy for them to complete the quiz with the person next to them and they can submit as a joint entry. This will mainly be used with KS3, year 10 and year 12.

Useful Links:
Create a quiz with Microsoft Forms
Assign quizzes to students through Microsoft Teams

Setting and Collecting Work

5. In lessons I will use the PowerPoint, Word document or similar with the instructions and resources as usual, but will be posting the resources for the lesson onto the class Team to enable students to access the digital version at their own desk or at home. This is mostly relevant for KS4 and KS5 students to enable them to work at their own pace through the lessons work. It also means that when students require assistance they can tell me which page or slide they are on and I can support as required.

6. I loved using Teams whilst remote teaching. The ability to set up assignments and feedback digitally was really useful in my opinion. This year I’m using the assignments function for all homework & assessed work. For homework or assessed work, students can submit a digital copy if using own device or upload photo/scan of the work from their book. With assessed classwork (formative and summative) students will be given a time frame to submit it within before I assess and feedback.

7. If, and this is very rare, I need to collect in books or paper based work, students will pass their books to the end of the row, a box will be placed at the back of the room and as they leave, the pile will be popped in the box. I’ll collect the box at the end of the day to save me having to carry it around.

AfL and Feedback

One of the things I’m already finding difficult it not being able to circulate the room to assess understanding and provide verbal feedback in the moment. I can already envisage that I’ll be making even greater use of self and peer assessment along with modelling this year.

8. Digital submission of homework and assessed work means I can provide feedback via Teams. Before the Summer I ensured all of the assessed work which would be completed across KS3 had a feedback sheet which could be easily converted into a rubric on Teams. For staff, its just a case of copy and pasting to the ‘new rubric’ when setting up an assignment. Once a rubric has been created, it can be used again and again.

9. If students work directly on the resource provided via an assignment, the teacher can access and comment on the work in real-time. Whilst the majority of my KS3 and KS4 students will be working on paper, this I feel is particularly useful for year 12 and 13. This will allow me to see the work that the students are doing and provide timely feedback and support.

10. I used to collect books in from KS3 students for a quick book look in between pieces of assessed work and would complete a book look sheet. Later this would be shared and discussed with the class. As my practice has developed, I’ve reduced the need for this through effective and regular AfL in the lesson, modelling and self/peer assessment.

However, a lot of that came from being able to circulate the room. My plan this year is to make use of polls via Teams and mini-whiteboards (the school wide plan is that class sets will be available). During and at the end of the lesson to check understanding, I’ll pop a question on the class Teams ‘feed’ for students to answer, review the results and discuss any misconceptions. I’m not entirely sure how effective this will be but I’ll be giving it a try this week. When or if the tech isn’t available, I’ll revert to the mini-whiteboards.

11. I can already see that modelling and discussing success criteria is going to have even greater importance than it has previously. My lessons regularly make use of modelling through one of three ways:

a) pre-created example – shared via whiteboard or print out
b) in the moment example – shared via visualiser or written in a word document and displayed on whiteboard
c) student work – shared via visualiser

Now the first two I can continue to do, however the third is going to be a little trickier. My plan therefore is that students that volunteer their work can take a photo, upload it to Teams and I will open it from there and display on the whiteboard.

Useful Links:
Creating and managing a rubric in Teams
Sharing Rubrics (Export and Import)
Sharing Rubrics in Google Classroom or Microsoft Teams
Review, return, and turn in assignments using the feedback loop

Moving Resources

Moving resources around the school, oh my. I already do a large number of daily steps, so for me it’s no different, but my arms are not used to carrying so much around. Initially, I was carrying folders, laptop, equipment etc. in multiple bags, boxes and folders. By the end of the week I had it organised as follows.

12. Invest in an expanding folder (or similar). I’m popping my printed resources in order of my lessons. I have this one from Paperchase and it fits plenty of resources in, including my A4 school planner.

13. I’ve been using slip-in wallets like these for sometime for storing paper based homework and assessed work (mainly from KS4 & KS5). Each one is labelled up with the year group. This year, I’ll be continuing with this method as and when required. I’ve stored all 8 in the very last section of my expanding folder. This week when I needed to collect in some retrieval sheets, I popped the relevant file on an empty table at the start of the lesson. At the end, students collated the sheets and one student popped them inside the wallet which went back into my expandable folder. Easy with limited touch and interaction.

14. I realised this week I need a clear pencil case or similar to keep my whiteboard pens, a cloth, whiteboard remote and the like. The majority of the week they were in the pocket of my laptop bag, but this made it difficult to do a quick visual check to ensure I had everything. To solve this I’ve picked up a clear zip-seal wallet, so at the end of the lesson I can do the quick ‘leaving the classroom’ routine have I got my… *insert list of items here*.

15. Thankfully, our students are very well prepared so I don’t need to carry general stationery around with me, but I know of teachers elsewhere that are. They’ve therefore invested in travel cases and the like to help them to move everything from room to room.

In my first few years of teaching I used the collapsible ones for dragging books to and from school, I highly recommend them. Incredibly useful.

Some examples:

To discover tips from others, check out the thread below

Got your own tips? Share your #RoamingTeacherTip on Twitter or add to the comments below.

I’m adding to the #RoamingTeacherTips Here’s mine:

Hope you’ve found something to useful to help you manage your time and potentially reduce workload. Look forward to seeing what other tips you have.


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NQT? No job for September? Develop don’t despair!

I’ve recently been contacted by a couple of trainees that have gained QTS but do not have positions for September. As you can imagine, they’re feeling somewhat disheartened and worried. I’m writing this post to let them know that it’s okay if they don’t secure a job for the new school year, that there are other options available and that there are many fantastic teachers that didn’t start their NQT year immediately after training.

So if you are a newly qualified teachers reading this and if you haven’t secured a position (yet), please try not to despair. Although the worry of income might be a concern, there are opportunities for employment available. To demonstrate this I took to twitter and asked for insight from those that have been in this position. In the rest of this post, I’ll share my experience and some insight from the edutwittersphere.

An Opportunity

When I undertook my PGCE, I was living in a hamlet near Machynlleth, Mid Wales. To get to any large ‘urban’ conurbation, you were looking at a journey of 30 miles or more. So, as I’m sure you can imagine, jobs were few and far between. It was for this reason, along with a few others (which I discuss in more detail in Making it as a Teacher), that led me to applying for positions in West Kent/East Sussex.

However, the journey from Mach to Kent was a good 7-12 hours, thus I had to be very selective about the schools I applied to. Although my interview feedback was always positive, I sadly didn’t secure a position by the end of the school year.

However, despite passing ITT, by the end of the course I was lacking confidence and felt disheartened that I hadn’t managed to secure a role for September. I went back to bar work for the Summer.

When September rolled around, positions started to appear as the term went on yet I didn’t have much confidence left by this point and started looking for jobs outside of teaching, but within the education sector.

By October I had secured a position in a day nursery, working with primarily 2-4 year olds. Initially I hadn’t seen it as an opportunity to develop, merely something to pay the bills, but I quickly came to realise that I was witnessing the theory in practice. This sparked an interest in child development and I started exploring the topic beyond the what we’d learnt on the course.

Come Spring my employer wanted me to undertake the NVQ that would allow me to go on to do EYFS management qualifications. Their encouragement allowed my confidence to blossom which made me long for the classroom again. And so, with my employers support and encouragement (they were former teachers) I started applying for secondary positions again.

I had a few interviews in the Spring and finally secured a position just before the May half term. Whilst the school may not have been at the top of my list, as it was quite some distance away and I didn’t yet drive, I was relieved to finally be undertaking my NQT induction.

The school started their new school year in July and so that was when I started. I walked into my classroom, nervous as hell on the first day. Apart from the interview lesson, I hadn’t been in a room with teenagers for over a year I was now expected to independently teach them. I think I was visibly shaking beforehand. But, it went okay. It wasn’t great, but it wasn’t awful. But I was now a Teacher. That meant a lot.

Feeling like a failure?

Try not to despair and instead think of this period as a time to develop.

I know it’s easier said than done, but:

  1. Don’t panic.
  2. Don’t compare yourself to others.
  3. Try thinking outside the box.

Many of the messages from those on twitter, mentioned how at first they felt like a failure. I did as well. But a common response has also been, that they felt the experience made them a better teacher. It cemented that they loved classroom teaching and allowed them to gain experience which others that have gone straight from training to teaching will never have.

So you haven’t a position (yet), what’s next?

You may not have secured a teaching position in a school for September, but that doesn’t mean you never will. For a while it may mean you have to think beyond a classroom teacher position to earn an income, but there are many ways you can do so within the education sector.

Twitter was extremely helpful are providing alternative options. Many sent me messages about what they did in between and how it helped and developed them. Rather than highlighting individual experiences, I’ve collated their thoughts to provide an idea of some of the options out there.

Beyond Classroom Teacher

1. Supply
Whilst it maybe challenging and the income insecure, supply can provide a flexible way of gaining experience.
The positives

  • Gain experience of a variety of approaches to teaching and learning
  • You experience a variety of schools, which will help you to identify and cement your ethos towards education and how it is delivered.
  • Confidence building. Many of those that messaged me said that the experience of going into different schools (sometimes on a daily basis) was daunting at first. However working in different contexts with different people built their confidence overtime, of which benefited them in future interviews.
  • Development of behaviour management. Some commented how they experienced a wide range of behaviour management policies and techniques which have influenced their approach to behaviour ever since.
  • Supply allows you to create contacts in other schools. If you do a good job of supply, they may keep you in mind for future positions.
  • You can say no – if you don’t like a school you’ve worked in before, you don’t have to go back.
  • Empathy for supply staff. You’ll never meet a supply teacher and not make them feel welcome afterwards.
  • Many have found ‘the one’ and have been at their schools for a long period of time.

    More information on becoming a supply teacher can be found here.

2. Temporary Positions
Don’t be put off my temporary positions such as those covering long term sickness or maternity. Whilst they may not provide the security of a long-term contract, they have their benefits.
The Positives

  • Similar to those for supply teaching
  • Longer term so can provide an opportunity to complete part of the NQT induction programme.

3. Teaching Assistant
Being a teaching assistant is underrated and underpaid. The skills, qualities and understanding one can develop from the position are not always recognised or appreciated by some in the teaching profession. I’ve worked with some incredible teaching assistants with degrees and other higher level qualifications in SEN, Educational Studies etc. Yet, they were earning less that £20,000. Unfortunately, this role doesn’t tend to pay well, but the experience gained can be extremely beneficial to your practice later on.
The positives

  • you see the classroom from a different point of view
  • you build relationships with students in a completely different way
  • you see pupils approach learning differently to the classroom teacher
  • opportunity to put into practice things you learnt during training
  • experience in different year groups and school contexts

4. Resource Publishers
Why not consider applying for positions or sending resources you’ve made to companies that specialise in the publication of teaching resources? There are companies that specilise in key stage and/or subject specific resources as well as subject associations that encourage and pay teachers for creating and sharing resources through them. On occasions there are opportunities for contracted employment with them as well. Whilst the income may not be large or even regular, it can be a useful experience for the CV.
The positives

  • You’ll gain experience in creating classroom resources
  • You’ll also add to your personal resource bank
  • Develop your curriculum and/or subject knowledge
  • You may develop skills in project management

Links
Teach Secondary

5. Alternatively, publish your own resources
Whilst it may not make a huge amount, it can be a developmental experience. As with publishing with a company, organisation or subject association it’ll provide you with new knowledge and skills. Whilst also providing an entrepreneurial opportunity.
The positives

  • similar to publishing with resource publishers, except you have control. You can decide the design, format, topic etc.
  • development of business and entrepreneurial skills
  • you can do this around other employment

6. Education Companies and Organisations
When I considered leaving the profession back in Spring 2016, I started exploring other options. Whilst I never ended up sending applications, I wrote a number for education based companies. If it hadn’t been for the fact that I wouldn’t have been able to start until the end of July, I may have even sent some. Many looked just as fulfilling as classroom teaching but without the pressure, responsibility and hours.
The positives

  • A different perspective on education
  • Insight into how companies and organisations work with schools
  • Networking possibilities
  • Dependent on the focus of the company you may learn about an aspect of education you previously had little knowledge of e.g. educational technology

7. Charities
Most charities have an education team. Whilst positions usually do not pay well, they can be opportunity to feel like you are working towards something bigger through education. When I interned with Global Action Plan prior to my PGCE, I absolutely loved working on the EcoTeams programme. Whilst I worked on organising events across the country and preparing the resources for them I not only learnt about sustainable living but how to deliver courses to adults of all ages.
The positives

  • Experience of education from a different perspective
  • May involve resource creation and development
  • Can involve the creation of courses, training or workshops
  • May provide opportunities to go into schools and deliver workshops or educational packages
  • May provide opportunities to deliver courses, training or workshops to adult learners
  • Allows for networking

8. Tutoring
Usually tutoring takes place either 1-1 or within small groups, and whilst it may not be a 9-5 job, it can provide you with the opportunity to work in your chosen subject or key stage.
The positives

  • Often, tutoring sessions are outside of school hours, which means you can arrange them around other work
  • Working with small numbers of students
  • Little preparation
  • Develop knowledge and understanding of exam specifications if at KS4 or 5.
  • Can test different approaches and strategies for teaching and learning
  • Explore ways of building positive relationships with young people

9. Pastoral Roles
Whilst you’re not in a direct teaching role, a pastoral role can be beneficial in helping you to develop the skills and qualities that allow you to build effective, working relationships with students. There are schools that are happy to take applications for pastoral roles from people without teaching experience. The fact that you have QTS maybe beneficial here and lead to future employment.
The positives

  • Working with young people from a different perspective
  • Opportunity to develop skills and qualities that allow you develop effective, working relationships with students
  • Insight into pastoral work, beneficial if it’s a route you’re thinking of going down later on

10. Other educational settings
As I did, you may like to look at other or alternative educational settings such as day nurseries, pre-schools, colleges or universities. Whilst they may not provide the opportunity to teach directly, they can be helpful in maintaining that connection to education. you may even wish to look at applying for teaching positions in other key stages or look at solely pastoral roles.
The positives

  • Maintains link to primary, secondary or further education
  • Opportunity to experience other settings providing insight into what comes before/after the stage at which you trained

Possible challenges

Whilst there are many options available, they obviously come with challenges. These are some of the areas that I and others have experienced as a result. However, do not let them worry you. For many of us, these challenges turned out well.

  • Positions may be low paid compared to new teacher salaries
  • You many need to work several jobs in order to supplement education based work such as supply or tutoring
  • You may feel financially insecure – but there are organisations like Education Support Partnership that can potentially provide financial support.
  • Loss of confidence. Many felt that initially they lost confidence, but as they gained experience in other areas, it slowly returned.
  • Expect the unexpected. You may end up working somewhere you never anticipated such as a supermarket, pub or pharmacy. Those that did, said that despite not being in education, they enjoyed the roles as it was something different and gave them further life experience.

Going Forward

So what do you do now?

1. Keep applying for positions

Whilst working elsewhere ensure you keep applying for the positions that you feel attracted to. However, don’t feel you need to apply to everything out of desperation. Something will find you eventually.

Some of the benefits of continuing to apply as highlighted by those that messaged me include:

  • any interviews provide an opportunity to network
  • school visits and interviews allow you to build up contacts which maybe beneficial in the future
  • each interview developed interview technique, some benefited from increased confidence
  • talking to staff at the schools was helpful and insightful
  • visiting numerous schools cemented what they did and didn’t like in a school
  • they felt more resilient by the time they started their NQT induction
  • experiencing a number of schools meant they learnt that you shouldn’t just go by what is on the school web page – schools can be very different (positively and negatively) to what they portray

2. Maintain contact with your training schools (if you had a positive experience with them)
Stay in contact just in case something arises in the near or even distant future.

3. Widen your search
For some it maybe that you need to widen your search area, this may mean a longer commute or even a move. This is what I did, whilst it wasn’t ideal, it was doable.

4. Application and Interview Technique
You may wish to ask someone experienced to look over your application and in particular your letter or statement of application. Always ensure you individualise your application to the school you are applying to. I used to have a generic template which outlined my ethos, my previous experiences and how my qualifications influenced how I teach. Firstly, I would consider how my ethos and the school ethos relate, and add this in. Then I would take the job specification and adapt my content to the requirements of the school. When I did this, I always got an interview. The few times I did a ‘last minute’ generic application, it was obvious I hadn’t done my research and I wouldn’t be invited for interview. Correlation? Maybe.

My friend Tom Rogers, @RogersHistory has set up this course to help with this element.

5. Network and connect
Edutwitter these days seems to be a positive place to network and connect with teachers and school leaders making it possible to reach out and ask for support and guidance. I’ve seen a number of teachers ask about positions in particular areas and discussions have then led them to a job. There are plenty out their willing to support.

Get in touch

The following are some of those that messaged me and are happy to share their experiences and advice on the routes they took before undertaking their NQT induction.

Victoria Hewett @MrsHumanities – Other educational setting
Teaching for Teachers @CherylC65378170 – Supply
Nicola @warrender278 – Supply
MrBrooksGeog @MrBrooksGeog – Supply
Jodie Waters @HistoryWaters – Supply
Miss Wood @PEMissWood – Application Advice
MrsMc @clmckimm – Moved location
Sarah Gooch @gucci22 – Supply
Hannah McCarthy @HannahCarey4 – Maternity cover
Ms G @SWprimaryHT – Supply and Application Advice
Mrs M @KAOMoreton – Supply
Harriet Cornwell @First_Floor_8 – Supply

If you’re an early career teacher still looking for that first post you might also be interested in the facebook group that has recently been set up by Lorren Brennan @BrennanLorren, as a support space for those in this position.

If you’re reading this post but haven’t used twitter for professional purposes or are new to it, you might find this post of mine useful.

I really hope that if you are newly qualified teacher and happen to be in this position, that this post has provided you with some useful insight and the confidence that it will be okay eventually. You might not have a position for September, but something will arise. You will learn and develop during this in-between period and as many of those that messaged me have said, it’ll make you an even better teacher.

Before I say goodbye, I should probably plug my book, Making it as a Teacher. It’s full of ideas, advice and inspiration to support early career teachers through the first 5 years. Grab a copy here.

Best wishes,


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Lockdown Merit Badges

I don’t know about you but I feel like I’ve accomplished so little since March. I got to the point about 3 weeks into lockdown when I’d do something and add it to my to-do list just to feel the sense of achievement that came with ticking it off.

Another challenge has been that whenever I’m on Twitter I leave feeling deflated as I compare myself to others. So many doing CPD, subject reading, creating amazing resources. I’ve done none of that. I seem to only have the emotional energy to do only what is necessary. Yet despite telling myself not to almost every day but continue to do so and thus feel a sense of toxic productivity.

Then yesterday morning I had a bright idea…. Lockdown Merit Badges. A bit like those you might have earned as a Scout or Guide, but for adults. Mini-rewards for mundane accomplishments. How could you not feel good about yourself after earning one or all. I just wished I’d thought of them sooner!

In a matter of 24 hours what started out origianlly as a set of 6 has quickly manifested into 24. And more suggestions are coming in. Could have quite the selection by the end of the week at this rate.

So… which ones have you achieved so far?


Download Available

For a bit of light hearted fun as we struggle through a challenging time, feel free to download and use a PDF version of my lockdown merit badges. Praise and award yourself as you see fit, maybe even throw in a treat or two for further motivation.

DOWNLOAD HERE

Hope you like them, if you have any suggestions leave a comment.

Best wishes,

#teacher5aday


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Mrs Humanities shares… how #Teacher5aday changed my mindset

#teacher5aday

It was around this time 5 years ago I first stumbled across #Teacher5aday. It felt like a breath of fresh air; something that gave me permission to put me first. As selfish as that may sound, it was something I hadn’t done since becoming a teacher.

At the time I was at a difficult school, one with high expectations for staff which meant high workload as well as many behavioural issues and lack of senior support in managing it. I was doing detentions most lunch breaks and regularly after school and didn’t have much time for a break during the school day.

Just before I came across #Teacher5aday I recorded my workload in order to ask for support (if interested you can see the workload diary here). I was working long hours and long weeks and putting my job before my health and wellbeing. I was constantly exhausted, snappy with my partner, always saying no to friends and generally not a likable person to be around.

There was an element of change when I came across #Teacher5aday. I felt like it gave me permission to say no. I felt like it gave me the support to say no. I felt like I was part of something.

Over Christmas, I came up with my first set of #Teacher5aday pledges and published them on December 30th 2014. You can read them here.

“I will be the first to admit that I get stressed, I work and work and work and then I buckle under the strain. I don’t speak up until I’m about to hand my notice in. I don’t rest and feel guilty when I give up because I’m too exhausted to do anything.”

30th Dec 2014

The pledges were going to hold me to account. I was going to work hard to connect, exercise, notice, learn and volunteer over the coming year. I was going to do things for me and my loved ones. School was going to come second. Okay whilst that didn’t exactly happen, the pledges made me start thinking about how I was not looking after my own health and wellbeing. They gave me a daily focus and encouraged me to take time out from working where I could. That first January went better than expected, but then the workload went up several notches and the stress and anxiety kicked in. But there was a difference in how I handled it as you can see in the quote below from my end of January reflection.

This year started like any other, calm and relaxed and then boooooom! Workload went into overdrive.  However there has been a slight difference in how I’ve coped with it. Normally I’m calm and placid in school but when I get home my frustration and stress comes out; I snap at Mr Humanities, eat tons of chocolate, work long hours, try to sleep but end up tossing & turning… the list goes on. The start of 2015 has been very different.

Keeping the idea of #teacher5aday in my mind has helped me to remain calm (most of the time), I had a wobble before school the other day but survived it through a chat with a HLTA and good friend. Phew. So far any time this term I’ve felt my blood pressure rising I’ve taken the time to think about ME and not felt guilty about it. How nice is that

1st Feb 2015

Knowing that there is a network of other teachers out there thinking about THEIR wellbeing made a big difference. It gave me the courage to put time aside, even if it was only one day on the weekend leaving me with just 6 to do the work. Knowing others were doing similar gave me confidence.

That support and confidence has continued and 5 years on I’m in a much better place (literally and metaphorically).


I made pledges again in December 2015 and 2016. However come December 2017 I felt that I didn’t need to make pledges anymore because my mindset and circumstances had changed.

I was no longer at the school that causes me to burnout and breakdown.
I was actually saying no and I meant it. I was only working weekends when it really necessitated it.
I wasn’t working until late each night.
I had found strategies to manage my workload in the 4 months at my new school.
I was taking anti-depressants and my mental health was improving.
I had support from EduTwitter friends and loved ones.
I felt I could manage.

Teacher5aday is always in my mind, it’s given me many fantastic friends, connected me with many through #Teacher5adayBuddyBox and changed how I approach wellbeing and mental health. I even wrote a whole section about it in ‘Making it as a Teacher‘.

There was a time when I didn’t recognise the importance of looking after myself. I’d plough away at the to-do list and work and work until I broke. That was no good for me, my students or my loved ones. #Teacher5aday helped to change that. Whilst it may only be a small part of a bigger story, the 5 elements and the support of a great community got me through some very difficult times. It changed my mindset and now I proactively look after myself. Why? Because ultimately it makes me better at my job, benefits my loved ones and makes me happier in both work and life.


All that is left to say then is a massive thank you to Marty Reah!

You’ve done an incredible job of putting wellbeing at the forefront of our minds, of bringing people together and ultimately improving the lives of many school staff and their students. For that I am sure there are many that would like to say a massive THANK YOU.

How has #teacher5aday benefited you?

Books on teacher wellbeing


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Teacher Truths: Drowning in Marking (and other things)

This article was created as part of Twinkl‘s worldwide teacher wellbeing campaign, TeacherTruths. Head over to their Year of Wellbeing page to read other’s views and find out how you can have your say.

TeacherTruths: Supporting teacher wellbeing, one conversation at a time.

If we rewind a few years back to October 2013. This was my marking pile for the 1 week half term.

This pile included Geography controlled assessments, KS3 and KS4 examinations and 2 sets of class books!

The following October half term was a little better as I was at a different school, mainly just a few piles of books, but that was only because the week before I’d had to mark exams and input data for all of the classes I taught. There was just a shift in when I did it. Booo.

Anyway, I found marking and assessment a struggle; firstly because it was just a tick boxing exercise and secondly because I didn’t quite understand the potential it held and thus didn’t fully implement an effective feedback system via my marking. I always felt that feedback was always too late for it to have impact on my learners despite the use of directed improvement and reflection time (DIRT). Marking books every 4 lessons just didn’t have the impact a more flexible system could have.

I was drowning in marking (along with lesson planning, curriculum development, assessment, behaviour etc).

So what did I do about it?

The first thing I did was ask for help. I kept a workload ‘diary’ and went to my headteacher at the time and said this is what I’m spending hours and hours and hours doing… please help me! How can I reduce this?

I was given a day off timetable to catch up with planning for the next term but nothing else was done to support. And so, I continued for a few more months, but the workload didn’t relent and so I went back and asked for help again.

This time my Dad was the influence, he told me to write down everything I did over the period and keep track of the hours spent doing each task.

Over 17 days, I taught 49 hours yet did 184.5 hours of work.

I took this data and asked for help again. I was told “leave it with me”. That was the last I heard of it until my back to work meeting after time off sick in April 2016 due to burnout, when it was exclaimed “well if you didn’t keep a diary of your workload…”

After little support, I decided I had to take things into my own hands and find ways to reduce my workload for myself. Marking was one of my biggest time consumers so that was where I was going to start.

I started investigating other ways of assessing and marking. I came across a variety of ideas and was reminded of some of those I’d used as an NQT such as that below and decided to implement some of these strategies again to see how they worked.

During my NQT I’d create these before assessing any work based on the all, most and some learning objectives of the lesson. Students would read the feedback and then use it to write a target for themselves. Did they ever act on the target? Rarely! (My fault not theirs).

So I tired these again, however this time I looked into how I could give them the success criteria in advance and then make use of the feedback to drive learning forward. I realised that I had to know myself what I wanted my students to be achieving and what that would look like before I planned any learning. Reading ‘Engaging Learners‘ and ‘Teaching Backwards’ were both influential in helping me to understand this.

I tried numerous strategies to find what worked for me and my students at the time but that would still meet the criteria of the school’s marking policy.

Some of these strategies included:

marking codes DIRT
dot marking DIRT
WWW and EBI marking and DIRT
self assessment WWW and EBI marking and DIRT
generic peer assessment DIRT

But the one that worked best for me was the feedback grid…

feedback grid DIRT

After seeing this tweet by @fiona_616 I decided to give the feedback grid a try.

It was slightly more time consuming initially to set up, but once created they were easy to adapt. I started using them in a variety of contexts since they saved me a lot of time when it came to planning, assessment and marking as outlined in this post ‘My Marking Saviour – The Feedback Grid‘.

The following year when we were required to provide an outline of topics and progression on the front of books, I explored how I could combine this along with feedback to make my workload more manageable.

Along came the Learning Matrix

learning matrix assessment for learning

These combined the topic outline, assessment objectives and success criteria along with what would later become feedback comments. During the assessment process I’d simply highlight the criteria achieved in one colour and the criteria for students to act upon in another.

marking and feedback

When marking books, I would write the corresponding code in the students book in the appropriate location.

marking and feedback

In line with school policy students would have time to act upon the next steps criteria during DIRT.

Unfortunately, reducing my workload from marking and feedback felt like the only area in which I could take control. I still felt overwhelmed with work and eventually experienced a breakdown due to burnout in April 2016 – more on that experience here.

However my exploration into marking, feedback and assessment led me into a topic I now find of great interest and I’m fortunate to be in a position to now be writing a book on the topic to help schools, departments and individuals move away from marking policies and into feedback systems. I’ve had the opportunity to learn from 10 fantastic case study schools, 5 departments and a range of individuals in the process and I can not wait to share the book with you next Spring/Summer.

Until then, I’ve plenty more to inspire your journey from marking to feedback here.

Share your teacher truth…

What challenges have you experienced during your time in the profession and how have you overcome them? Share your Teacher Truths with others and develop the conversation on teacher wellbeing.


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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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Got back to school anxiety? Don’t worry, it’s perfectly normal.

I’ve seen lots of tweets this last week about back to school anxiety and I just wanted to say that new school year nerves are completely normal. Hence why my A-Z on the back to school realities started with it.

There are very few teachers I’ve met both since I’ve been teaching and whilst growing up around my Mum’s primary school that didn’t get the back to school jitters. You’ve had several weeks off to enjoy yourself; to use to toilet when you wish, to eat when you’re hungry, to relax and recoup from the previous year, it’s no wonder you’re feeling a little anxious.

I get it EVERY year! The nightmares, night sweats and moments of sheer panic in the remaining days of the school holidays. However there are also moments of inspiration and excitement for the year ahead. Why? Because…

Teaching is Awesome

Teaching, whilst fulfilling is a tiring job. You are performing every time you teach to an audience that can sometimes be unpredictable. What will you have to juggle whilst trying to teach them x, y and z? Who’s going to burst into tears? Who can’t sit next to who because they’ve just had a falling out? Why aren’t they getting it? Who needs a helping hand and who has whizzed ahead of the rest of the class? As a result by the end of the school day you are pretty tired and some of you will have further work to do before you can relax.

Don’t panic about your to-do list!

Your to-do list may go from a few points to multiple pages in seconds of being back in the school grounds…. but you will manage it!

Start by breaking down the tasks into compulsory-must do and desirable but not necessary. So often we strive for the perfect classroom, resource, activity etc. and in doing so we make more work for ourselves. So I’ve started thinking along the lines of is it required or just desirable by me?

Then apply my to-do list tasks to the Eisenhower Matrix

I use this as a mental guide to organising my to-do list and I find it really helps. Often many of the tasks on my list are those I want to do rather than need to and so get deleted.

Do you need to do it?

Do your displays really need changing or could they just do with a bit of tidying up?
Do you really need to spend ages looking for the perfect font or could you just use one single font for everything?
Do you need to create a whizzy powerpoint or could a slide with just the instructions on do?
Do you need to differentiate that task multiple times or could you scaffold it instead?
Do you need to use a wide variety of activities or could you develop a bank of templates that you frequently use?
This year, aim for less is more in your teaching practice, I highly recommend it.

Avoiding Back to School Burnout

If you’re concerned about the approaching workload, here are some tips for avoiding back to school burnout over on BBC Teach –https://www.bbc.co.uk/teach/teacher-support/top-5-tips-for-avoiding-after-school-burnout/zkdsxyc

and here https://www.bbc.co.uk/teach/teacher-support/5-strategies-to-help-you-reclaim-your-time/zr98cqt

Still worried? Support is available

If you are feeling extremely anxious and worried about the school year ahead consider making use of the services provided by the Education Support Partnership, the only UK charity dedicated to improving the health and wellbeing of the entire education workforce. The helpline (08000 562 561) is open 24/7 and from my experience I can tell you they are helpful, reassuring and encouraging. Speaking to them back in Spring 2016, helped me to find the confidence to take time off, to apply for a job at a different school and to open up to my family about my mental health. In doing so, it kept me in teaching!

It’s perfectly natural to feel anxious about something you care about, but even after a negative experience there breakthroughs to be had. Here’s an insight to 5 of mine https://www.educationsupportpartnership.org.uk/blogs/5-breakthroughs-made-me-better-teacher

Remember why you teach

So when the workload starts to increase, whether it’s meetings, marking, planning, data or whatever else try to remember why you wanted to become a teacher.

To help you why not try one or two of these ideas from an extract of ‘Making it as a Teacher’

Remembering the why

  • Draw up a list of all the things you love about teaching for regular review and reflection
  • Write your ‘why’ on a postcard and keep it on your desk or wall as a reminder
  • Note down and keep messages of gratitude from students
  • Keep a positivity box or journal and record happy moments from your classroom and school day
  • Create a positive mantra for yourself, for those days when you feel you just can’t do it anymore

Strive to thrive, not just survive!

For more advice and ideas to inspire and empower you through the next academic, you might like to grab a copy of ‘Making it as a Teacher’. Although aimed at early career teachers there is plenty in there for the more experienced too.

Other recommended wellbeing reads

Finally…

Don’t forget to reach out if you need to! Whether it be your colleagues, friends or family or maybe those you find online. Don’t bottle up your anxieties and worries, talk about them, get them off your chest and work on them. Speaking from experience, hiding them away only leads to problems down the line.

Best wishes for the new academic year, make sure you enjoy it!

p.s. This isn’t a sponsored post, I’m just a really proud ambassador for Ed Support and teacher mental health and wellbeing.


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Mrs Humanities is back (to school)…

Hello lovely people,

After almost 8 weeks away from social media and blogging, I’m feeling refreshed. Still very anxious about all the changes coming in the next academic year – new staff to lead and a completely different department as a result plus a 3rd subject to teach (which I wasn’t informed of until the penultimate week of the school year). But I’m feeling refreshed and ready to return to life as a teacher (just).

There have been lots of exciting developments over the last few months so thought I’d share them with you.

1 // My first book was published

First of all, my first book ‘Making it as a Teacher‘ was published at the end of May.

So far it has received a positive response from the teaching community which I’m really pleased about.

Making it as a Teacher doesn’t deny or shy away from the problems we are facing in the profession; it acknowledges them and agrees that it is a challenge to avoid being part of that one-in-three statistic of teachers leaving the profession in the first five years. But, through its human approach, helpful structure and real-life case studies, it offers a positive message: you can do it. It’s a cathartic read – therapy in paperback form. 

Haili Hughes, Tweets as @HughesHaili 

A lot of ‘me’ went into the book in order to show others that it can be hard in teaching but also that you can get through the challenges of the profession and come out the other side. If you haven’t read it yet, here are some of the reviews so far to maybe inspire you to:

Tes Book review: Making it as a Teacher by Haili Hughes

UKEd Chat Book Review by Colin Hill

Schools Week Book Review by Loic Menzies

Parents in Touch by Sarah Brew

Plus the lovely reviews on Amazon. If you’ve already read the book I’d love to hear what you think, feel free to comment or leave a review on Amazon (which would be very much appreciated).

2 // We’ve bought a house

I figured this contributed towards some of the anxiety of the final school term. Luckily it was quite an easy process, however I found myself working until 6 pm most night when normally by term 6 I’m leaving around half 4/5 pm. Then I’d be going home and packing boxes or filling in paperwork or something similar. However we’ve had the summer holiday to unpack and are feeling settled in our first (own) home. We never thought we’d be able to buy a property so are feeling very lucky that we have been able to.

3 // I’ve been working on a second book

When I was invited my Routledge to write a book proposal, this is the book I originally had in my mind. However, I didn’t know how it would work – a book about moving from marking to feedback. It sounded too simple so I felt it needed something that would make it worth reading. This came to me whilst writing the feedback section of Making it as a Teacher – case studies.

And so, after finishing my first book I wrote the proposal for the second. I’m really excited by it. I’ve been shouting about #FeedbackNOTmarking since September 2016, when I did my first presentation at Pedagoo Hampshire on the topic of Less is More – Marking with Purpose. Something I said was quoted on twitter and from that the hashtag #feedbackNOTmarking was born. Since then I’ve done 20+ presentations on the topic, written numerous articles and published a large number of blog posts.

However, that presentation wasn’t the beginning of my journey with feedback. That had started back in 2014/2015 when I started looking into ways of reducing my marking but maintaining effective feedback and thus the progress of my students. It started a new phase of my approach to teaching. It changed the way I teach and honestly it has changed for the better. My teaching practice is simpler, it’s reduced the workload yet the planning and provision of feedback has greater impact on my students than any of my marking ever did. And that’s why I felt this book was important.

The book consists of case studies from schools that have moved from marking to feedback and of departments but also looks at how individuals can apply the concept in their own classroom even if they don’t have the support of their SLT. I’ve really enjoyed reading the case studies so far, I’ve enjoyed further researching the evidence on the application of feedback in the classroom and writing up everything so far. I personally think the ‘Feedback NOT Marking’ book is going to be a change maker – well I hope it will be any way.

4 // Fundraising for the charity Education Support Partnership

If you’ve read any of my blogs on mental health and wellbeing, you’ll know I’m a massive advocate for the charity, Education Support Partnership. Honestly, I know that if I hadn’t spoken to them back in April/May 2016, I wouldn’t have stayed in the profession. I’m so proud to now be able to be an ambassador for them and support them in helping other teachers, leaders and support staff.

Since I failed to look after myself as well as I had been doing, in terms 5 and 6 of the last academic year I didn’t feel like I was the best I could be for my students and colleagues. So to help me look after myself over the next academic year so I’m at my best for those I work with, I decided I’d sign myself up to a challenge that would get me outdoors whilst doing some good for others. So May bank holiday 2020, I’ll be walking 100 km from London to Brighton over two days in aid of Ed Support. As part of my training I’ll be out walking and running as much as possible – Abigail Mann ( @abbiemann1982) and I have even discussed organising a ‘Wellbeing Walk’ at some point which will be open to all that wish to attend or join in.

So here’s where I’m going to be cheeky and say I’d absolutely love it if some of you reading this were to sponsor me and help me to fundraise vital funds for a charity that means so much to me and many others in the education sector. Without donations, they’d be unable to provide the support through their helpline, grants and advice to those that need it (including myself). Here’s my Just Giving page, if you’d like to contribute to the work of Ed Support.

In addition to fundraising for Ed Support, I’ll also be writing a series of blogs for my favourite charity throughout the year.

5 // BBC Teach

I’m really excited to have been commissioned to write 3 articles for BBC Teach over the coming academic year. The first of which is on 5 ways to avoid back to school burnout and can be found here.

In addition, I along with numerous other teachers, have recently filmed with BBC Teach for their Teacher Support section of the website. These videos will be out later in the academic year.

Final words

Finally, I’d like to say a massive thank you for the lovely messages and emails I’ve received over the last few months asking about my wellbeing. They’ve meant so much to me! When you put yourself out there in order to help others, sometimes it becomes a distraction and it can be hard to admit when you’re personally struggling. Thankfully, my prior experiences have helped me to identify when my personal mental and psychical health isn’t at it’s best and I’m learning to step back. But just in case you are wondering why I’m writing another book and articles if I’ve been experiencing high anxiety in recent months, it’s because I find it really cathartic. Like being outdoors, it weirdly helps me to relax and put things into context. So don’t worry I’m not choosing to overexert myself in this area of my life, for me this gives me more of the ‘life’ in the work-life balance.

Hope you’ve all had a great summer break and enjoy the final days if you have any left.

Best wishes,


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Mrs Humanities is having a break…

Hi all,

So I’ve had a number of emails and direct messages concerned about my wellbeing as I’ve decided to take some time offline and refocus myself as I’ve had a recent wobble with my mental health.

I just want you to know I’m okay.

In the last few weeks of the school year I reached a high state of anxiety and found that my emotions were spiraling downwards.

I’ve found myself spending so much time recently helping others that I’d kind of forgotten to look after myself. Resultingly, I’m trying to spend as much time away from social media as possible and instead more time with my husband, my friends and on writing.

That means my site will be quiet for a while as will my social media.

If you wish to contact me in relation to #Talk2meMH I’m afraid I will be unavailable for a few more weeks, there are however plenty of others on twitter willing to listen please do reach out if you need to.

For now, I hope you’re all having a great summer break. Enjoy the remainder.

Best wishes,


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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