Schools out 2017

School is now out for the summer, at my place we break a week later than everyone else as we have 2 weeks at the October half term but it has been a huge slog to get here.  I love my job, there are days when it is mentally tough but I am there for the students and will continue to help students for as long as I have energy to do so.

I work in a strange place, we are focussed on progress and ensuring we are giving the students the best start in life but we have massive fun in doing so.  Our celebration assemblies are huge, we dress up, we make noise we celebrate and give away prizes that include playstations and TVs.  But, the school is in an area that has great deprivation that is mirrored in many places across the country.  We try to address the balance and show that even in that area each and every person has a choice on their future and we guide and show that there is ways out of their situation if they wish it.  I try to use my This Girl Can role to show my female students that they can do whatever they put their mind to not only in sport but in every aspect of their life, all too much young females in areas like where I work don’t often get the message that they have choices, that they can go to university, they can have a great well paid job that they are worthy of having the life they want.

The prom was exciting and was my first prom attendance and all the students looked amazing and the year 6 transition worked really well for the final 2 weeks of the term. September is still a way off but I will look forward to returning and taking on the next chapter.

Working in a school is challenging, tiring but so so rewarding and I am proud to be part of what we are all trying to do there.

So now the school break is here what are my plans?  Plenty of swimming, cycling, running and gym work if I can.  Spending time with friends if I can and recovering from this very long term.

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Progress and change

Another parkrun PB meant that things were going really well and my number started with something I had been hankering after for more months than I care to think about.  This was the day after a lovely little run that was part of my training programme and an interview that seemed to go well and must have done as I got the new role.  I felt that currently things were working out but, not one to sit back and think it had it all in the bag and be over confident I know I still have a long way to go, lots of work to still get under my belt and plenty of training ahead.  I have booked 2 half marathons now and I want to improve on my first but also keep improving at parkrun and the 5k and 10k races that may come up.  I want Abs but not at the cost of panic attacks hence why I am training seriously and sticking to my plan.

I am back to basics with my training completing a programme that consists of a walk run to help improve my 10k time whilst avoiding injury.  This will continue for the next few weeks, I have found this has helped with my pacing at parkrun and made me feel more comfortable when running and so far the shin splints have not returned, if you like the sound of this then click here.  Once this programme is over I am back on the half marathon training and I will be using the Hanson Marathon method, I have posted up a review of the book if this appeals to you.

As for work, a new role means that I will have a lot to learn in a short space of time.  I hate changing jobs and although I like most of the people I work with currently I knew that the place was not a good fit for me, I felt stale and I wasn’t being pushed mentally and I love having mental challenges that help me grow.  The place I am going to will be harder but I am up for that, the role is a little different to what I am used to but ultimately I will be helping students and that is what I enjoy.

It is all change, steady progress and fingers crossed the balance will be maintained and the great stuff continues.

 

parkrun PB and assessing change

There are a lot of things going on in my life at the moment.

Project me is still very much underway and I am still training at the gym, once a week but I would like it to be more.  However the back to work situation has made training, running and work a difficult balancing act that needs to be carefully managed along with the other things I want to devote time or energy to.

After the triumph I felt after last weeks half I wanted to keep the running up if nothing else.  I started a new program on the Tuesday after the half to help avoid injury but help with pace, I wanted to improve my 10k time and train for the half marathon I had booked for February.

Yes you read that right, after weeks and months of saying that I will only ever do one half marathon I came home looked at a few for 2017 and booked the Thorpe Park Half Marathon, running can be addictive.

My goals are to improve my pace and time without causing injury whilst still enjoying what I am doing.

I had been quite relaxed about running, just going out and not competing with times and that was my intention at parkrun yesterday.

I started off at parkrun determined just to enjoy it, run by feel and just get round.  After the first lap one of my running buddies turned off the path, she was about to bail.  I shouted out that I would walk with her, better that than bailing and then regretting it later, she wasn’t injured once I checked so there was no reason not to continue.  We walked then run and just kept a pace, we were not in competition with each other we encouraged, running when we felt like it but keeping the other in sight in case of issues.  The finish line approached and personally I felt good I felt comfortable but didn’t think I had broken any records.  A sprint finish allowing my buddy to go in front of me and I was happy, no issues no panic attacks all very relaxed.

I looked at my watch, flicked the screen to pace and time and looked again, a double take, really for a moment there I thought I had a PB.  I checked again, well my watch did say PB but maybe I had started it earlier than the official timekeepers.  A bubble of excitement inside of me, maybe it was a PB.  I would have to wait for the official results.  An hour later the results came through, I had trimmed about 30 seconds off my PB, a minute over the month and 3 minutes since coming back from injury. I was chuffed and felt it was a perfect way to end the week that started with my first half marathon.

With the other things that are going on, well the kitties are settled now and the older cats are accepting of them albeit watchful still.

I am strength training at least once a week at the gym but I would like to increase this again and probably start once I have this week out the way.

Work has been a test since going back, I have spent more times than not feeling unsettled due to the staff turnover at the end of the last school year, there are lots of new staff most are long term supply.  I have felt that my views and the views of the school are not fully alined and as a result it makes me feel uncomfortable.  I want the best for the students I want them supported and for them to achieve the best they can but not everybody cares in the same way, this makes me upset and this week I may have to do something about that.

Studying

I started a new OU course recently.  I found that I missed the art of studying once I had finished my degree and I was keen to keep my brain working.  I decided on a course that could lead to a science degree but in the first instance would help me with the children I work with.

The Autism Spectrum in the 21st Century otherwise known as SK124 officially started at the end of the half term, but I decided to spend a day over the half term period to start reading.  As I am already regarded at my workplace as having particular expertise with autism, I am called upon when dealing with children on the spectrum and I am the first point of call when things get really bad and a child needs calming.  I wanted to see if my previous training matched what this course had to say for itself plus having my expertise recognised in a formal fashion before embarking on my next course of action at work.

So far I am enjoying the course and although I have not studied for a while I am back in the swing of it.  In fact I don’t feel the pressure as I did when studying for my degree I guess thats because I have my degree in the bag and this is an add on to enhance what I do.

I have a passion for helping all people who may be on the spectrum, I have found that although this condition is now widely known compared to years ago, those with this condition still suffer from biased viewpoints, people still look, point and are unaware of who could be affected and how.

If you are looking for a short course on autism then I would recommend this as a good starting point.

The work situation has not improved for many, I am ok for the moment as I have carved out my little area and  I am protecting it and my team with a passion but I still feel like I am at the crossroads with what to do next.

 

 

New beginnings

The school year has started with a bang and the students are not even in yet.  This week has been the craziest maddest ever, causing all levels of stress and anxiety.

I knew it was not going to be easy, some founding staff had left and with them their humour and knowledge of how the inner workings worked in the school.  I also had to face new team members and get them trained up ready for the children.  The inset week before the students come in is always tough, I face my fears during inset week, public speaking being one of them.

I find the start of a new school year to be a exhilarating, thrilling but also very very hard work.  The tone of that first week could set the tone for the rest of the year.

As this is the start of the new year I need to take stock of where I am heading and what I am going to do after this year.  My choices will be based on what happens in the forthcoming weeks.

To anyone who is starting a new venture at this time I wish you well.

End of term review

 

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Yep the summer holidays are upon us (or those who work in education) and it is that time of year I look back at my professional year and review.

The 2013-2014 school year was a roller-coaster, no change there from any other year.  There are things I wished I had done, high points and low points and I wanted to share my year.

High points:

  1. Getting the outstanding from Ofsted, well deserved, hard earned.
  2. Building my team from scratch, gaining them, developing them and letting them carve out their own niche.
  3. Being the key worker for a particular autistic student and being told (after 6 months or so) being told that they trust me and want me to work with them again next year.  Believe me if you knew the student and the blood sweat and tears that got us to that point I felt elated, especially as this student could not always explain how they felt.
  4. Feeling that I finally find my calling and banging the drum for those students who are neglected, struggling and lost.  Supporting them, fighting for them, laughing with them and crying with them.
  5. Overcoming my fear of snakes by allowing one to be put around my neck, then allowing a tarantula to sit only shoulder helping me face my fear of big spiders.

Low points:

  1. Losing friends to other schools, we will always be in touch no doubt but I will miss the day to day laughter we will all have together.  I will miss the feeling that we are all in this together and I will miss the great advice.  The last day of term was highly charged, very emotional and I will be honest I shed a tear.
  2. The long, long hours at the start of the term as we were expecting Ofsted but had no idea when they were coming.  This continued until June this year when they finally came it.
  3. Feeling so overwhelmed and uninspired for a variety of reasons that I wanted to leave and looked for other jobs, something that I felt so conflicted about as I wanted to stay and campaign for the students but I could not tolerate how I felt.  The quote I used above summed up how I felt at times.
  4. Being assaulted, this was the start of me feeling overwhelmed, uninspired and unsupported.  I felt very much alone at this point I stuggled to come to terms with this for some time feeling I had let myself down.  I also felt that I could not support other staff members with this students, I was at a loss for a short while on what to do.
  5. Feeling undermined with a member of staff and having to push to ensure that I was not ridden over whilst they attempted to walk over other people to get what they wanted.

Things I wished I had done:

  1. Cracked the work/life balance sooner rather than later.
  2. Spoken up more with management and sooner explaining how I felt and what I needed.
  3. Delegated more.
  4. Faced the difficult conversations with my team sooner rather than later.
  5. Recruited for the team earlier and more robustly.

The 2014-2015 is a crucial year for the school, we increase the secondary school by another 180 students, some with some real trying needs.  The school also opens its doors to a new primary school so we will also welcome 90 reception children.  We will be steering our oldest year group towards options and then GCSE.  We will be greeting new staff members and will begin to build solid relationships with them whilst keeping our teams happy and supported.  I have mixed emotions about the next school year, I will look forward to it as always but I will also try not to make the same mistakes again making sure by July 2015 I have more high points than low points.

 

 

Team Building

I had been having some doubts about whether I wanted to stay at the school I was in, so much so I had an interview elsewhere and was offered the job.  I still don’t know if I have done the right thing by turning down the offer and staying put.

Every year since even before the school opened we have a staff residential weekend.  The first year had a staff body of 20 people, this was 2 years ago and I was a nervous thing not sure what to expect not sure what I had let myself in for and worried that I had made the right choice.  Last year was an improvement from my own point of view, I had gone from being the only person in the department to heading up a team hand picked by myself and ready for the next year with my own vision in place ready to see it unfold.  This year was the third year and compared to the first year of 20 people we have a staff body of 90, amazing.  I headed into this staff residential with mixed emotions, was I right in staying?  Had I picked the right staff to join the team?  Was my vision still valid, can it grow along with the school and department?

As always the location of the residential was lovely and we spent a lot of time getting to know the new people and forming even stronger bonds with existing staff.

I left the weekend feeling a little better about my decision to stay but with very firm ideas about what needs to happen during the next school year to make sure I remain happy.  I know I have a good team to enter the next school year with and will continue to develop them.

On the beauty/lifestyle front, packing for a work residential is always hard, first up is finding suitable outfits for the posh dinner and for the team building days.  The dinner experience is not to be sniffed at, we are all expected to dress nicely, smart.  The team building involves lots of running around, and lots of sitting around discussing.  I try to pack light, I used my Laura Mercier portfolio received from Mr JAEG for our anniversary for my make up, a full face of make up needed for the dinner but a lighter touch for the daytime and this portfolio was amazing.  I had several outfits to pack with a range of shoes, I know it could be hot and I wanted to have different options for the different events.  My carry on trolley dolly was sufficient for this residential as I was also able to pack up my Kindle and iPad but had I had a longer stay I would need to either streamline further or go larger with the case.  One thing about have OCD is the checking I have everything packed and the need to unpack quickly when at the other end making sure I have not forgotten a thing.  I would love to know who you travel light, or are you like me everything bar the kitchen sink?

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Beautiful location and a sunny day!