Blog

Go Be Happy!

Go be happy!

These were parting words to me from a colleague as I left work today. It was at the end of a conversation about how in teaching there is so much to do and that it is ok that it’s not all for you. Some of it is and some of it isn’t.; whatever you do though, just go be happy!

For some of us teaching kindergarten is our thing and for others it makes us squirm, others love Year 6 while some of us would never go there, some teachers teach PE while others teach art, some love science, while others would rather teach poetry, for some of us teaching in public education is important while some prefer private, some of us have themed classrooms while others leave it to their students, some of us play the piano and have sing-a-longs while other are great storytellers.

I could keep going…

In this industry, we bring so much and have so much to offer, but what we need to remember is we don’t have to be great at everything. It is important to know your thing, to do your thing and do it well. We can’t all be masseters at math or artists in the classroom, excellent at running assemblies or the master of writing newsletter articles but we can each have our own piece to contribute, and ways to contribute to each other.

If each of us works together, imagine the range of skills we could bring, and time and energy we could use to support each other.

You teach mine science while I do the math lesson for your class, I will write the newsletter article if you organise assembly, I am happy to read the story if you do the music for the afternoon sing-a-long.

So how does this relate to ‘Go be happy?’, well, if you do your thing you will have time to go be happy too.

Sometimes we teachers stress the small stuff, we worry and fumble and struggle, we complain and get stuck, we get frustrated yet persist, when maybe what we should have done from the start was ask for help, find the person who’s thing it is, offer a trade-off or just for support, and from this you will have more time to go be happy!

So teacher, go find your thing, work with others and GO BE HAPPY!!!

What kind of Report Writing Teacher are you?

What type of Report Writing Teacher are you?

At this time of year, so many of us are writing reports, or maybe you have already finished! It is an amazing time to reflect on the year, acknowledge the growth and development of your students and remember all the great things you have done together throughout the year.
Report writing though can certainly see us use some habits of behaviour that only seem to come out when things are difficult, challenging or when you have something really important to do.


Within any school, report writing time is a time where certain work styles are highlighted, stress for some is high, while others are calm, time moves faster for others and some seem to have control of the clock, speeding it up and slowing it down to suit them and others seem to think now is a great time to do anything but reports.

In all the schools I have worked in, what I usually find is there are most often 3 types of report writing teachers:

1. The ‘Get in and out as fast as you can’ report writing teacher.

These teachers have their reports half-written before the annual ‘Report Writing’ staff meeting, they finish well before the due date and they just seem to be able to get them done no matter what. They are organised, have all their notes filled alphabetically all year long and can put their hand on any assessment you ask for at any time day or night. Their ability to do this seems to keep everyone puzzled. How do they do it?

2. The ‘I’ll do it tomorrow’ teacher.

This teacher relies heavily on tomorrow, only tomorrow never comes, meaning everything is left until the last minute. You can sense them the day before reports are due as they move around the school in a mad rush, stress and panic and the days following are filled with sighs of relief and are heavily fuelled by coffee as they try to stay awake after such a mad rush to the finish line. ‘It will be different next year’, they say, but it never is…

3. The ‘A bit here and a bit there’ teacher.

This teacher sits somewhere in between, a little bit here and there, maybe a well planned out approach of one or two a day over a few weeks. Their mantra is ‘slow and steady wins the race’. Not only are their reports in on time, but they don’t even break a sweat, no markers of stress and no panic to the end. These teachers seem to have it somewhat down pat. They remain calm and steady, never faulting. They are the envy of all other staff.

No matter what kind of Report Writing Teacher you are, or how you approach the task of writing reports, itis never an easy job, so thank you for all the time, effort and energy you put into this task.

So, what kind of report writing teacher are you??

Teach Less, Ask More

So here’s the thing. It is not your job to do all the talking… An odd idea for a teacher, I know.

But too often, classrooms are filled with teachers who talk and students to listen. Gone are the days where this is our job.

If you are doing more talking then your students, you are working too hard. Our job as teachers is to make our students think, which means less talking and more asking. Yes, asking questions. How many things do you say in a lesson, which could actually be turned into a question instead?
Just because your students are listening does not mean they are learning. We need to ensure our students are actually thinking to be learning, and the best way to do this is through asking questions.

Now, this does mean you have to think of other creative ways to teach in order to get students thinking, but it also means the learning will be far more engaging than you just sharing a bunch of facts and showing them what it is they are doing (let’s be real here, your students don’t need to listen to you talk all the time).

When I teach, I have a few go-to questions I use over and over again:
What are we learning?
How do you know?
Explain that in more detail?
Can you add to that?

These questions can be applied in any subject, and mean our students have to actually think about their learning, not about the activity.

Why else are using questions a great idea?

Because it means your students are talking, listening, connecting and challenging each other. A great bonus about teaching through questions is it means our students have something to do other than listen. Think/pair/share, talking partners, clock partners, see/think/wonder; these are examples of different ways we can have our students think and talk about learning, not just listen to us talk about learning.

So how does this look in a classroom?the teachers coach

1. Ask more questions than you do share facts and content.
2. Think of and plan creative ways to get your students thinking.
3. Create key questions which match the essential learning.
4. Include an opportunity for students to talk to each other every 5 minutes or so (they get bored of hearing you talk for longer than that – sorry)
5. Always ask a follow-up question; Tell me more… Why do you think that? Can anyone add to that? What makes you say that? How do you know?

Remember, questions mean the students do all the hard work in the lesson, your hard work comes in thinking about how to put a great lesson together and working with your students on their learning.

*Not sure how many questions you ask or if your students are really listening? A great way to see is to record yourself and do a question audit recording how many questions you ask and noticing where you could have asked a question instead of giving a fact.

Wellbeing Month – Work/life Balance

This month I started the very first Teacher Wellbeing Week in my FB group ‘The Teachers’ Tribe’ (join here if you haven’t already https://mailchi.mp/76e1652adad4/wellbeingweek).

Each month I am going to bring you a week of information, videos and fun things on a topic to do with wellbeing, and then for the rest of the month, we will continue the journey together.

Why? Because teacher wellbeing matters, and it is more than just yoga and herbal tea.

This month we are focusing on work/life balance, with the first 7 days of the month being a work/life balance intensive. Here is part of what I have shared so far…

Work/life balance in the teacher space is often a dream, a utopia, an untouchable space. We dream of never taking work home, of having work-free weekends and time to ourselves, oh we dream! But here’s this thing… this doesn’t have to be a dream, it can be real.

Work/life balance is sold to us in a way which makes us think work is for work and home is for home, and if we don’t have this than we don’t have work/life balance. Now, what I am about to say may shock you, but this just isn’t the case. Work/life balance doesn’t have to look like this at all. It is absolutely not the only version of what work/life balance looks like, and if it isn’t possible for you, then stop chasing it. That’s right, STOP!

So what can you do instead?

Well instead, you need to write your journey of work/life balance. You need to decide what it looks like to you, what you can achieve and what fits in with your already crazy life.

So, what does work/life balance look like to you?

Only you can decide this, and there is certainly not a right or wrong answer, only one that works for you. All that matters is that you are happy with it.

Something to keep in mind is that work/life balance will look different each day. No day is the same which means you need to be prepared for each day to be a little different. Maybe one day you achieve balance by getting to the gym, maybe one day it’s not taking work home, and on the weekend it’s a sleep in and work-free day.

Keep this in mind when thinking about how you want work/life balance to be. Make sure you set goals in this space that are achievable. No point trying to achieve balance by planning to get to the gym by 5pm when you have a staff meeting that day, or working on nutrition and healthy eating but no time to cook or plan healthy meals.

Make sure you choose things which are easy and something you can do now. This doesn’t have to be every day, sometimes we just can’t do that, but do try put time aside for the balance part a few times a week, the life bit will just happen on its own.

Don’t wait until you retire to start that hobby you have always wanted to take up…

Whenever older staff are retiring, or the conversation of not working comes up, I am instantly one to put my hand up to say I 100% would be OK with doing this now. Don’t get me wrong, I love my work, but the idea of not working and being able to take up all of the hobbies I dream of doing sounds great to me!

But here’s the thing, why wait until I retire to do the things I want to do?The Teachers' Coach

I have been a bit up and down lately (let’s just blame this on normal work and life stress) and when working with my coach (because we should all have one), she asked me what I do for creativity, as an expression of me, where my juices flow… well, nothing really, I thought.

To be honest this shocked me. I am someone who loves being creative and crafty, I always took an art class at school and I love to doodle and draw my way through meetings and PL. What I realised though, is that I have absolutely let this part of me go, or rather, put on hold.

It wasn’t a conscious decision, just something that has happened over time, as life got busy, routine took over, along with longer work hours and trying to balance everything out, my creative outlets have completely disappeared.

Growing up you would find me in my room after school dabbling in all kinds of things; jewellery making, drawing, sewing, baking, knitting, painting… I even painted a giant sun mural on my wall when I was about 15.

Now though, I just don’t do anything. I have tried a few times to get back into it, but this more often than not results in me taking some kind of class, buying all the resources to do this at home, where unfortunately the items just become dust collectors and never reach their full potential.

I have a cupboard full of silicone bakeware from the time I was going to take up vegan baking, a selection of rope from the time I did a macramé class and was going to make something extravagant for my wall, and a bag of stones I collected from the beach from the time I was going to make some stone art for family, and this is all in the last 18 months.

I think I need a hobby!

I mean, I actually need to take up and do one of the hobbies I have started…
I don’t need to wait until I retire to take these things up, what I need to do is make them part of my weekly routine NOW!

I am aware of all the great things having a hobby can do for you, yet for some reason, I think these don’t apply to me. I am wrong though. I need a creative outlet just as much as you do.

So here I am committing to taking up macramé and stone art (I’ll leave the baking this time). Watch this space, there are some cool things coming your way soon!!!

Why asking for help is the best teaching strategy you will ever use!

I was recently asked how I got so good at teaching, how I know so much and why I have a large suite of skills in the teaching and learning space.

Apart from this being a massive compliment, it was also a bit of stump for me. How? I don’t really know… I have over 12 years experience, surely that’s why?

I sat with this for a while, playing the questions over and over in my head, when I finally realised how…

In my first years of teaching, there was no denying I was eager to please and ready to do my best. I certainly didn’t know what I know now, and there was so much I had to learn as a new teacher, and that’s exactly why I did. I learnt.

At every moment possible I asked for help. I was constantly in my mentor’s office asking for help on this and that, having her in my classroom model lessons for me and help me, set up groups. I was like a sponge, and probably like that annoying student who never stops asking questions too.

Asking for help was the best thing I could have done as a new teacher. I learnt so much, was keen and eager and certainly was not afraid to fail.

Asking for help can sometimes make you think people will judge you, making you wonder if you are good enough, or that you don’t know what you are doing when you’re should or that you’re failing at teaching.

This isn’t the case.

Asking for help is a strength, not a weakness. It sees you improve and be even better. It shows other you too are here to learn, grow and improve. Not because you aren’t good enough, but because learning never ends, for our students and us.

Be brave. Ask for help.

Lean on those around you. Ask your colleagues and teacher friends, or the teacher you don’t really know but who everyone says is amazing, ask your school leader or principal, ask in your network or neighbouring school. The great thing about teachers is that they are always willing to help.

What do you need help in?
Who can help you?
Can I help you?

Asking for help is the best thing you can do, no matter where it is you are needing help, or where you want to improve.

How was your weekend? (Building Relationships at Work)

Recently I have been challenging myself to engage with my colleagues on a more personal level.

Why? Because to be honest this is something I am just not great at. I have one of those personality types that is all business and go go go!
Now when you want something done, this isn’t a bad thing, but when someone just wants to be heard, I have been known to overlook this. So I am working on it.

I am sharing this because as teachers we are surrounded by people every day and often we don’t realise how much our own personality may impact others, be received by others or even the messages we send out just from our facial expressions, tone or things we do and do not say.

Moving from the classroom into leadership this is something I have really had to reflect and take feedback on. Often in the classroom, we don’t really think how our own personality reflects on our students, because, for the most part, they are compliant, but working with adults can definitely bring this to the surface.

Ever wondered why we gravitate to some people and not others? Ever wondered your circle of friends are somewhat similar or have the same interests? Ever wondered why your students manage to make their own groups in your classroom when you try so hard to have them be friends with everyone? Well, it is because our personality type is attracted to other personality types, and when we find our click we stick to it, searching for other people with the same traits, and we don’t even realise we do it.

Now, this is fine where we can control the people we are with, but often in the workplace, we have to work with all sorts of people, and some who are just not our people.

There is beauty in this though. Working with others outside your normal click can be a challenge, but also an opportunity to learn about yourself, and others too. It is an opportunity to learn about who you are and how you connect with others, and in return how other people operate too.

The lessons here can be hard, uncomfortable and sometimes scary as well, but you have a real opportunity here t

o grow into an even better person, to develop better relationships, to be able to work with a wider range of people.

Now depending on who and how you are and who you are working with, this will look very different. It may mean saying less or saying more, asking more questions or answering them, giving a helping hand or pulling back, laughing more or laughing less, or it could be as simple as starting each Monday by asking your colleagues ‘How was your weekend?’.

If you are interested in learning more about your personality type, I recommend doing this online DICS self-assessment below to give you a little more information:
https://www.tonyrobbins.com/disc/

I’d love to know what you have connected with here or what surprised you?

I’m exhausted… and I am not sure how I will survive the week.

There are moments where I feel absolutely exhausted… this week is one of them

I started the week thinking Monday was Friday, so I knew it was going to be a long one..

I feel like I could sleep for days, if left alone for too long I will sleep, if my warm, cosy, puffy winter jacket is in just the right spot it’s like a pillow making it very easy to sleep standing up, I am in trouble. This isn’t tired. It’s exhausted.

I haven’t run a marathon and no, I didn’t compete in CrossFit games recently, I am worn down, overwhelmed and in need of a time out.

You would think as an experienced teacher (who now works in leadership), a trained life coach and a coach for teachers I would have it all sorted… but I don’t. Not even close.

I am still human under all this, and sometimes the human in me is loud and clear.

It doesn’t matter how much self-development I do, how many books I read or even the content I write and share with you, sometimes everything I know just doesn’t stop from the human part of me taking over. And why would it? Sometimes overwhelm is just that, total overwhelm, and tired is tired, and too many things on your list is a reality, combine all this together though, and you very quickly get exhaustion.

But here’s the thing, what I have right now is key to making a change, making it more manageable and allowing it to pass without pushing me into the ground and stomping all over me, and that is awareness. Awareness is the first step to being able to manage any sort of overwhelm or exhaustion.

Now, this goes beyond just saying I am exhausted, it actually means doing something about it.

Saying I am exhausted but keeping the same level of intensity going is just not good for my health, I know that, so I have to use this awareness to make some small changes to get through this totally human moment.

What does this look like?

  1. Nutrition right now is key. It is so easy to fall into a trap of eating rubbish because you feel like rubbish. Don’t do this, it only fuels the fire. (OK – complete honesty here, there has been some chocolate eaten, emotions eaten, and more chocolate, but I am working on it).
  2. Stay hydrated. Water isn’t just for those who sweat, it is for all of us, especially those of us who are facing a tough time mentally. Water is just as important for the mental sweats as it is for the physical sweats.
  3. Move. I know you are tired, I am too, but the importance of moving to keep blood flowing, oxygen circulating and energy up is a must. I am aiming for 8000-10,000 steps daily at the moment. It is hard, but it makes such a difference in how I feel mentally.
  4. Sleep. No matter how much you have on your plate you must sleep. I aim for around 8hrs a night no matter what. Yes I could keep working and sleep less, but I know in the long run this doesn’t work, it only makes things seem harder, take longer and makes me way more emotional than I need to be.
  5. Let go of some things. You can’t do it all. What can you put off, say no to, or let go of just a little while you get through this time ( and no it can’t be any of the above)? For me, I look at all the tasks I have to do and make an agreement with myself to put some on hold and come back to them later, I say no to last-minute meetings and make it clear that I am working on other tasks at the moment. Be transparent. People understand.

It is these 5 things that I implement as soon as I notice my body starting to feel exhausted and overwhelmed. You will notice these are mostly related to myself and my own self-care. Why? Because what I know is, is if I don’t look after me, I can’t look after anyone else. I am my first priority and you should be yours too.

What I learnt from Brene’ Brown

This week I attended Brene Brown – Dare To Lead.
If you don’t know who Brene Brown is I suggest you look her up. She is someone who is changing how we see ourselves, each other and leadership. Her work is based on extensive hours of research, studies and training based around shame and vulnerability. Emotions we often try to avoid yet where so much growth and learning occurs.

I had so many takeaways during the day, but what I want to share with you is one which I think will really impact leaders in education and that is leadership is about self-awareness.

I chose this to share as I so easily relate to this, my own experiences on my journey with myself and how that has impacted me as a leader.

You see leadership to me has been a journey about understanding myself. Understanding the good and bad my strengths and weaknesses. My areas for development and straight-up owning and taking responsibility for and accepting some stuff I just didn’t want to own.

This is leadership.

Leaning into the uncomfortable. Being vulnerable. Embracing the suck. Choosing courage over comfort.

It’s not easy.

I don’t think. It’s supposed or be.

I think it’s supposed to be hard. To. Challenge us beyond comfort to allow ourselves to grow and change and evolve into who we know is inside but who we ignore because we want or be safe.

Safe isn’t leadership.

Safe is staying the same.

Leaders don’t live here.

Leaders live where it’s scary and unsafe. Where it’s unpredictable and painful. Where we can fall and not know how to get up. This is leadership.

Whether in work or life or relationships or family we can all find ourselves needing to lead. Lead with courage. Lead from heart. Lead not for now but for how you know it can be.

This is leadership.

Make time for you – 5 easy ways to start now!

Time for you is just as important as the time you give anyone else.

NEVER FORGET THIS.

Just 20 – 30 minutes a day of self-care a day is enough to allow you to press pause on the outside world, connect in and re-energise in order to keep going.

I reluctantly use the phrase ‘keep going’, but it is what so many of us tell ourselves; ‘just keep going’. So we do. We just keep going, and before we know it, we are more tired than normal, unable to cope with even the most basic tasks, making little errors that we normally wouldn’t, snapping at family and friends, becoming emotional and eventually not coping at all. We have all been here.

Spending time taking care of you is what allows you to move beyond this, and rather than keep going, you keep living.

Not sure how to spend those 30 minutes? Here are 5 things to do now that are about taking care of you, help connect with your soul and allow you to live in a positive and flourishing way.

 

  1. Spend time in nature

The outdoors, fresh air, sunshine and living things are known to boost the happy chemicals in your brain, as well as give you a sense of calm. Go for a walk, find a nice park and sit on a bench and breathe in the fresh air, watch the sunrise or set. Take yourself outside and let nature do its work, it is a natural and free resource waiting for you.

  1. Journal

Our brain can be one big complicated mess sometimes. It can have us thinking, saying and doing things that we don’t even realise or that later we may not be so happy with. Journaling is a great tool to get deep into the layers of our brain and thinking space to discover what is really going on. Take a pen and write. Ask yourself these questions:

What is going on for me right now?

What is bothering me the most?

How would I like it to be?

What changes can I make right now?

How will this make me feel?

  1. Smile

Smile. Laugh. Share a joke. The simple act of smiling is infectious and known to boost your mood, reduce stress and can very quickly change your start. The beauty of this is that it also has ripple effects which last long after the initial smile.

  1. Have a hobby

A hobby. Something you do just for you, that bring you joy, is not connected to work, and something that you 100% choose and enjoy. Painting, getting lost in a great novel, gardening, hiking, knitting, anything that is just for you. Hobbies are ways to reduce stress, improve mood and allow you to get out of your comfort zone by doing something you enjoy and taking you away from the business if the day.

  1. Do nothing

Yes, nothing. No playing on social media, no TV, no book. NOTHING. A cup of tea or your favourite drink and do nothing. Why? Because at times our body needs space to heal, to escape the chaos of life, to just be. Use this time to sit and be. If you find your mind wanders too much, use some calming music to help you, some meditation music, or try a guided meditation to assist in calming your mind and to get in the space of nothing.

 

There you have it. My 5 tips for taking care of you for 20-30 minutes a day. Start with one of these, and if every day is too much right now, try every other day, and build up from there. You deserve it.

I’d love to know what other self-care tips you have too. Let me know via my FB page https://www.facebook.com/amygreentheteacherscoach/