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 that1st 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
This week I shared my experience of burnout and the resulting breakdown I experienced with a journalist from the Observer. He’s written a great article on the issue to raise awareness of the issues schools and their teachers are experiencing.
Feel free to get in touch if you’re going through similar and want to chat.
On a more positive note however, do check out http://www.teacher5adaybuddybox.com for wellbeing fun.
If you are interested in supporting the fundraising I will be undertaking whilst I walk (I really mean hike) my 300 miles over the year, please visit my fundraising page https://give.classy.org/300for30th to contribute. Thanks.
Best wishes for the 2017!
The end of January saw the introduction of the #teacher5adaybuddybox . It’s been a great success so far with over 70 volunteers.
The best part by far has been seeing the amazing boxes people have sent out, each with a range of things to brighten up the day of their #wellbeing buddy.
Here are some of them so far
— Theresa Young (@treezyoung) April 30, 2016
— Miss E (@MissEGeog) 26 April 2016
— Tammie (@Ed_Tmprince) 30 April 2016
— BXA RMPS (@BXA_RMPS) 13 April 2016
— Miss Dabbs (@love_geog) 14 April 2016
— Tracey Elliott (@TraceyE_) 9 April 2016
— Mrs Wright (@j_wright_83) 2 April 2016
— Miss White (@Miss_White_Hist) 1 April 2016
— Kerry Fraser (@booksrokmyworld) 30 March 2016
— Mrs W (@teachylw) 22 March 2016
— Slatters (@slatters91) 9 March 2016
— Carolyne (@CazGerrard) 29 March 2016
— Kate sowter (@Top_kat1) 21 March 2016
— Miss B (@Boxyshistory) 19 March 2016
— Missfod (@fod3) 18 March 2016
— Missfod (@fod3) 1 March 2016
Even seen a teacher or two enjoying their well deserved treats
— Mim Monk (@mim_monk) 9 March 2016
— Slatters (@slatters91) 12 April 2016
And a few sneak peeks to get excited about…
— Miss White (@Miss_White_Hist) 16 April 2016
I’m truly flabbergasted at the generosity of those taking part. Not only are they spending money on their buddy but they’re spending time thinking about them, connecting with them and volunteering their time and effort on someone that (in most cases) they don’t know in person. Very generous.
The hour or so I spend on a Saturday morning matching people up is definitely worth it, especially when I see the tweets from those that have received their bit of wellbeing snail mail and are truly delighted.
Thank you so much everybody that has sent a #teacher5adaybuddybox so far, I’m incredibly grateful as are your buddies.
If I’ve missed anyone off that has tweeted a picture of a box they have sent or received, please do let me know I’d hate to miss anyone.
And remember if you’re tweeting about please include #teacher5adaybuddybox so I can add new tweets to the post.
Again thank you to everyone that has taken part so far, you’re truely awesome!
— Miss E (@MissEGeog) 26 April 2016
Update: we now have a #teacher5adaybuddybox dedicated website. Head over to http://teacher5adaybuddybox.wordpress.com to find out more, sign up and to see boxes that have already been gratefully received.
After mentioning the idea last week, I’ve had a number of comments from people in regard to wanting to get involved. That’s awesome.
So shall we get started?
Who can get involved?
The scheme is open to teachers, educators and other member of school staff that are concerned with improving their wellbeing and the wellbeing of others.
It’s particularly awesome if you still love sending and receiving snail mail and are happy to volunteer.
What’s the idea?
The #teacher5aday wellbeing buddy box sprung to mind after I took part in Perfect Strangers. The theme was winter warmer; I loved that each component of the box was carefully thought out to bring a bit of warmth to their life. It was completely voluntary and it felt good to spend that decision time thinking about what might make this perfect stranger smile.
I wondered if we could develop something similar through #teacher5aday – an occasional snail mail surprise to brighten your day.
It’s quite simple. You sign up and get matched with a wellbeing buddy, you make contact with them. Swap addresses. You send each other ‘buddy boxes’ throughout the year. They receive their ‘buddy box’. You make them smile. Easy. The hardest part is deciding what to send.
To start with sign up here
What happens once I sign up?
You can sign up anytime but may have to wait for a wellbeing buddy to be available for you to be matched with. Once your buddy has been found you’ll be informed by email/Twitter and you can take it from there.
Swap addresses, send your ‘buddy box’, make each other smile.
How much you spend on your wellbeing buddy is up to you, suggested maximum per box/package would £10 though.
What should go in the Wellbeing Buddy Box?
The ‘buddy box’ can consist of anything from letters of positivity such as ‘open when…’ letters to open throughout the academic year to small gifts like candles, socks etc. to help your buddy look after themselves. Of course a bit of stationary never goes a miss and perhaps something personal just to show you care.
If you wish you can even make your box follow the 5 components of #teacher5aday with something to help your buddy to notice, connect, exercise and learn. Volunteering is covered by sending a buddy box in return.
When should I send my Wellbeing Buddy Box?
When you send your ‘buddy box’ is up to you. When you sign up you are asked how many you would be willing to send throughout the year. I will try to match you with someone that is willing to send a similar number as you.
Since we all have those times of year which we find more difficult than others, so when you sign up you’ll also be asked which time of the academic year you would appreciate receiving a buddy box the most; your buddy will be informed of this so they can plan appropriately to help you when you are most likely to need it.
What happens once I recieve my Wellbeing Buddy Box?
Well first of all I’m sure you would like to thank your wellbeing buddy. You can share your posts on twitter with the hashtag #teacher5adaybuddybox.
This is an ongoing process, so make sure you check up on your wellbeing buddy now and then even if you only signed up to send the one wellbeing buddy box. It’s nice to be remembered.
So what are you waiting for? Go and sign up.
Remember this is completely voluntary, it is your responsibility to contact your wellbeing buddy and to send out your “buddy box”. You must cover all costs involved.
This is completely based upon all participants wanting to sign up and take part out of the kindness of their hearts. I’m afraid I nor anyone involved in #teacher5aday can accept responsibility if you do not receive a buddy box in exchange. Therefore please only sign up if you intend to send. Thank you.
With just a few days left of 2015 I thought now would be a good time to reflect upon my personal well being journey, a journey that started thanks to Martyn Reah and #teacher5aday.
My journey started on the 30th December 2014. It began with a blog post. It developed into 5 promises. It continued throughout the year.
Let’s rewind to 30th December 2014
After seeing inspiration on Twitter, whilst being rather anxious about going back to work in the New Year and just downright unhappy about the hours I was working I promised myself the following for 2015:
#connect – say yes more; see friends and family, socialise frequently, connect with other educators. Be less lonely.
#exercise – more adventures outdoors with my Mr Humanities
#notice – notice those I love; stop noticing imperfections in my work
#learn – learn from others
#volunteer – go back to my conservation/environmental roots
How did it go?
Whilst work has remained stressful and work related anxiety has continued, 2015 has enabled my overall sense of happiness to improve and this has been evident in the classroom.
January and February was great, I really got on board with limiting how much time I spent working on weekends to ensure I had every other weekend off (except for the Sunday morning lesson planning). See how it went with the End of January Review.
However March and April didn’t run so smoothly, stress related stomach problems resulted in a hospital trip and a few days off sick. I was on the verge of leaving teaching by this point. But with some focus on myself, a re-focus on my #teacher5aday promises and an invigorating trip to #TMLondon helped me to get back on track and remember what I love about the job.
By the time summer came, my reflections showed a relatively positive journey. On return to school in September I tried to keep this in mind.
If I’m honest the period between October half term to February half term I find the hardest and the run-up to this year’s seasonal celebrations were no different. The one thing that changed however was the fact that I allowed myself to say no. When I was too tired to work in the evening, I stopped, I refused to do it and instead allowed myself to rest. None of us should have to work 6 days a week, 5 of which are 7:30am – 9pm; It’s too long and unsustainable as I’ve learnt. It has meant however that I’ve had to prioritise, planning first, deadlines second, marking if I have time.
Taking part in #teacher5aday this year has given me the confidence to say no, to see it’s okay to look after myself and a chance to connect with other educators across the country – removing the sense of loneliness.
I recently started the discussion on staff and student wellbeing in my school’s first Teaching and Learning newsletter.The same evening a fellow colleague sent me a lovely email in regard to staff wellbeing, it was really nice to be able to open up the pathway for such discussion.
I’m really pleased to have taken part and want others to get involved with wellbeing , it’s made such an impact to 2015. Although I didn’t stick to each promise everyday, just having a wellbeing focus helped me to look after me.
I’m excited for 2016 now, it’s goint to be the year I get out of my comfort zone. Eck!
Hope you have a great new year.
We’ve had a lovely start to the first week of the #teacher5aday skill share.
I’ve learnt a number of new skills already.
Firstly I kicked off the week with a crafty example, chalkboard storage jars, suitable for the classroom.
Next came a really easy to follow video from @rondelle10_b on how to create a video from PowerPoint. How I’ve never thought of doing this before I don’t know. The video is super easy to follow, so much so I had my student’s use it as part of a classroom activity this week. Next step think of some uses for this.
Now on to basic Makaton signs courtesy of Joe White, I had a go at these on the train back from a Teach Meet. I seemed to get a few odd looks and nobody replied *sad face*. The video again is easy to follow and a useful skill to have. Joe later shared with me a further video of colleagues taking the skill share on board whereby they created a further tutorial of Makaton signs.
After a few practical skills during the week, the weekend had pathed the way for some time consuming crafts. This tutorial from Kerry Tait on English Paper Piecing shows us how to sew a hexie flower. As a former crafter I was intrigued by this skill offer as I’d never come across English Paper Piecing before; the tutorial lays out step by step the process with images to help. It’s a really lovely craft that could easily be done in front of the TV after an evenings marking session.
Thank you all for the contributions this week.
If you have a skill to #volunteer, no matter how big or small then join the #teacher5aday digital skill share. Find out more here.
I like many teachers, spend more time in my classroom than I do my own home so making it inviting is important to me.
One way I’ve done that is by adding my crafty touch through little things like storage jars and pots.
Here’s a tutorial for one of my favourites that I’m sharing as part of the #teacher5aday #digiskillshare.
Chalkboard Storage Jars
To make your own you will need
- Chalkboard paint
- Sponge Brush
- Clean Jars
- Cotton buds (optional)
Step 1. Firstly ensure your glass jar is clean on the outside, dirt can cause the chalkboard paint to crack.
Step 2. Mark out using the tape where you will paint you chalkboard label. Ensure the tape is firmly pressed against the jar, although I used masking tape I’d recommend a strong bonding tape like duct tape as the paint can run underneath.
Step 3. Using the sponge brush carefully apply your chalkboard paint to the jar. Be careful of paint running or getting under the tape. If it does run, use the cotton buds to wipe away the paint.
Step 4. Allow the paint to dry for half an hour to an hour. If your jars need another coat of paint, ensure the bottom coat is dry first (I made the mistake of not ensuring it was completely dry on a few of them and the paint cracked).
Step 5. Once dry remove the tape and fill your jar with pretty things. I even added some washi tape to a few of them for extra colour.
They are really quick and simple to make but add a decorative touch to my classroom. Have a go yourself and share with #teacher5aday on Twitter #digitskillshare
Originally posted on Staffrm
How often do you take time to learn something for yourself? For fun?
This November the #teacher5aday emphasis will be on learning, therefore the digital skill share encourages you to learn something new for yourself for your own enjoyment.
How does it work?
In simple terms you sign up to a skill in a digital format and in return offer a skill.
Sign up to share
Firstly we need people to offer their skills. Skills can be anything you think somebody else would want to learn for their own enjoyment, this can include anything from crafts to musical instruments, from a jam recipe to the use of computer software. In the ‘Skills you’d like to share’ column outline the what you’re offering, see the examples below.
Once you’ve decided on a skill you wish to share, decide upon your sharing format. We recommend a video or step by step instructions posted on blog or shared as word document; other formats are possible dependent on what works for you.
If you have a preferred date in November that you wish to share your skill, pop it in the ‘Date to Share’ column. Otherwise leave it to us, we’ll nominate a date for you to share the skill and send you a reminder.
You can offer as many skills as you wish, feel free to share one or share more.
Sign up to a Skill
To sign up to a skill simply take a look at the ones on offer. You can sign up to just the one or all of them. Take your pick. Simply add your name and twitter username to the ‘Sign up for this skill’ column.
Sharing the skill
In order to share the skills, each skill will be given a date to share.
The skill sharer will then send a link out to all those that have signed up to the skill via twitter on the relevant date; this could be a link to a video, blog post or cloud storage.
If you think you might have problems sharing on the stated date, send the link in advance to @MrsHumanities and it’ll be shared on your behalf.
Where do I sign up?
Join the #teacher5aday #digiskillshare here goo.gl/wEvl5Y or scan the QR code below.