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.

Holiday Reading – My top 5 non-fiction book must reads!

For those of you who don’t know, I am an avid reader. I love to read and try to do this daily. From fiction to non-fiction, a good novel or the latest self-help book, reading is a must. I am also known to have more than one book on the go at a time too, which means reading a book the whole way through can take a bit of time… but I am totally OK with that!
Reading should not be one of those laborious tasks where you feel compelled to read every word front to back, even though you are not enjoying it. I was once told books are great tools if you take from them what you need, and stop when you have exactly that. Sometimes this is a whole book, especially a great novel, with non-fiction that might be is a few chapters at the start and then whatever else is of interest to me as I flick through the chapters.
With this approach, I can read more than 1 book at a time, and read quite a few books each year. It also means I have books for entertainment and enjoyment and books for learning. The key is to know what you like to read and when you like to read it. For me, non-fiction is great in the morning or throughout the day and novels are a leisure activity I enjoy in the evening and before bed.
For now, though, I am recommending my top 5 non-fiction books. Why? Because non-fiction books, I believe, are an overlooked way of supporting each other. These books have done wonders for me, and I think they will for you too.
If you are looking for a book, here a 5 I have enjoyed lately which may also be enjoyed by you too.

1.    The One Thing – Gary Keller with Jay Papasan
This book is a great quick read for those of you who need help defining what to focus on and which tasks need competing. It looks at goal setting and how to use this to help you with what you need to do now. I also found this same method can be broken down and applied to yearly and weekly tasks.
 
2.    Atomic Habits – James Clear
As humans, we so often do things without even knowing. In this Book, James Clear looks at habits and how as humans we are constantly acting out our habits with little to no awareness of how they are impacting our life, creating a barrier for us or how one small change of habit can have a big impact with ongoing ripples.
If you are stuck moving forward or have a goal you haven’t been able to achieve, this book will help you to identify and make changes to those pesky habits you didn’t even know where there.
 
3.    The Subtle Art of Not Giving a… – OK. So the title may be a little off-putting, but the book its self has some hidden gold. If you are someone who finds it hard to let go of things, constantly worries about what others may say, do or think or spend most of your time making decisions and doing things so others will be happy while you suffer, get your hand on this book and start reading now!

4.    Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway – Susan Jeffers
Fear holds us back from doing so many things. It hides in ways we don’t even know and is so sneaky it will surprise you when you realise it is there. This book is great if you have a sneaking suspicion fear is stopping you from doing something in your life; the classroom, your health, confidence, anything. With an insight into the science of fear and also how to overcome it, this is a must read for everyone.
5.    Dare to Lead – Brene’ Brown
In her newest title, Brene’ talks about leadership, and how this links to us as leaders. As teachers, we all play a leadership role in one capacity or another. The leader of our students, leading a team, taking the lead of planning, leading a staff meeting or leading other teachers. Everyone can learn something from this book (actually any Brene’ Brown book is a must read).
 
Read one, read all or read none. Great books aren’t; going anywhere so make the time to read what you can when you can. Reading is self-care, self-love and showing self-worth. Make this a part of your holiday, you are worth it.

Happy Reading!

I have been slack with my blog, because, well, life happens… and it’s OK

Sometimes Life happens…

I have been a bit slack on the blog front lately, I am not sure why, I was in a really good routine with this, then life happened, and I lost it.

It can happen that easily. We are onto a good thing, weeks or even months can pass and we don’t skip a beat, then all of a sudden life happens, we lose our routine, pick up bad habits and are back right where we started. So what do you do?


Well, first of all, know life does happen, because you are, after all, only human, which means you never really know what may come your way. As fast as it took for Harry Potter to be scared with a lightning bolt for life, we can lose all routing and things we thought we had control over. Just like that.

Now don’t beat yourself up about it. I’m not. I mean the first step to getting back on track is having an awareness that things have gone sideways, and let’s be honest, my blog writing certainly has. But here I am, picking myself up, and getting back into it.

You see, when life does happen, we need to go with it. Ride the waves. But as soon as we are back with two feet on the ground it is time to reassess and get back into it, which means for me Thursday is Blog Day – No Matter What!!!

We have all had good intentions before, mine with a blog every Thursday, which did last a good few months, to be more active, lose weight, read for 20 minutes a day (another one I am working on), give more time to family, be a better listener, stay calm when life doesn’t go according to plan, but we also all know that it just doesn’t happen like this, and that is OK!

Now you know that, you can let it be. Now that doesn’t mean stop forever, it just means let go of the guilt of letting it go in the first place, and when you are ready, get back to it. Or maybe not even when you are ready, but when you can.

If we always wait until we are ‘ready’ then it may never some, ‘ready’ leaves too much time and space for ‘I’m not ready’. This is just your ego keeping you safe. Instead, ask yourself ‘Can I now….’. If the answer is yes, do it. No but’s, maybes or when I am ready. Just do it.


Life happens. We fall off the track sometimes. It is getting back on though that we must commit to.
So here I am, committing to a blog every Thursday, just for you, so keep an eye out and make sure you keep reading them.

5 Tips to Starting the Day Right!

Where are my shoes?
I don’t have anything for lunch?
What was it I needed to remember to bring in today?
Sound familiar?

Too many of us are starting our day like this.
Rushed. Frazzled. Overwhelmed before the day even starts.
Have you ever stopped to consider how this may be affecting the rest of your day?
If you are starting your day rushed and frantic, it’s more than likely how you will continue your day as well.
Getting to this point happens pretty quickly and pretty easily.
Standing in the kitchen sipping your cup of coffee when all of a sudden you glance at the clock and panic hits. Instantly your emotion changes from calm to manic. Just like that. Once we are in this state it’s hard to come back down, and this really can change your day.

Here are my 5 tips for ensuring you have a calm start to the day and make it to school without feeling stressed, frazzled or overwhelmed.

1. Give everything a home.
Frazzled mornings can very much be a result of spending valuable time looking for things. Instead, ensure everything you own has a home and put it back there as soon as you finish using it. Your keys, TV remote, diary – everything.

2. Organise yourself the night before
Just like you did when you were a kid, pack your bag, make your lunch and lay your clothes out. It will save you so much time. Take it one step further and make all your lunches and choose all your outfits on the weekend. Imagine the time you will have each week if you do this!

 

3. Keep a list
Don’t rely on your brain. It’s already too busy. Need to remember something? Write a list and check it before you head out the door each day.

4. Keep it real
Don’t over commit. There are only so many things you can do of a morning. Usually, that is getting ready and making it to school. Don’t plan on getting heaps done before the school day starts, this can very quickly lead to a rushed and frantic state as you try and get things done before the bell rings. Instead, make sure everything is in order before you leave the day before.

5. Develop a routine
Your brain loves routine. The predictability and sense of knowing what to expect helps with being calm and organised. Develop a routine and stick to it. This way you know what to expect, what to do and that everything is taken care of.

Try one thing today and make tomorrow morning even better 🙂

Amy x

5 Tips to Getting Organised and Improving Your Well-Being

‘I can’t find my folder’
‘Where are those worksheets’
‘I totally forgot about this meeting’
‘I just don’t have time to write my reports…’
Sound like you?
Being organised is not just something you should try and get on top of, it is actually a skill to master.
Being organised is totally underrated, and something teachers would benefit from being taught at university. The more organised you are, the better your wellbeing is. Wellbeing is actually linked to how you live your life, and part of that is being organised. You see, being unorganised can put you in a constant state of panic and stress, it can make you feel rushed and overwhelmed and you can often feel like you are behind in your work.
Why?
Because being unorganised means you can’t find things, you waste time looking for things and then don’t have time for other tasks, you don’t have systems to help store things like your assessment and worksheets and your desktop is messy.
How is this linked to wellbeing? Well, if you are constantly looking for things, feeling rushed or overwhelmed and in a state of chaos, so is your mind. Your mind reflects your environment and your behaviour.
Feeling stressed? Your mind takes this on. Feeling rushed? Your mind takes this on. Feeling unorganised?
Your mind takes this on. You can’t improve your wellbeing if you mind is messy, chaotic and unorganised. So if you are looking to improve your wellbeing, get organised.

5 Tips to Getting Organised and Improving Your Well-Being

1. Tidy up your desktop and ‘My Documents’ folder. If you open your laptop and look at chaos, you are telling your mind to get in chaos, and also wasting time looking for that document you can never find.

2. Implement a filing system for your worksheets; completed, to be used and to be finished. Take it one step further and order your ‘to be used’ worksheets in order of use. Sounds simple I know, but imagine how much time it will save if you know exactly where that worksheet is.

3. Keep all your assessment in one place and record your data as it happens. Sick of looking for your assessment, or adding in data in one big bulk at the end of the term? Well, record it and file it as soon as you can. That way you have the information you need in a timely manner and can respond it straight away, and you know where to find the data when you need it.

4. Set a regular time aside to tidy your classroom and desk. I know this may sound silly, but your classroom and desk can quickly resemble a kids playpen if you don’t stay on top of it. Tidy your desk each day before you leave so you are coming in each morning to a tidy, organised desk, and make sure to regularly clean your classroom.

5. Write down everything and keep a list.
In a busy day, which is every teaching day, we have so much to do, remember, and well, do. It is easy to get in the car at the end of the day only to realise you didn’t do that 1 essential thing and have to go back into your classroom and do the forgotten task. Avoid this at all costs by keeping a list of to do’s (I personally have one for school and one for home), carry it with you, write EVERYTHING on it, when you have time to get things done look at the list and do the next most essential thing, not the easiest, then cross I off and keep going.

These things will not only make your day easier but also ripple into improving your well-being. Why? Because you won’t feel as stressed, and chaotic, as overwhelmed or as unorganised, which means your mind will be calmer, more settled and you should feel happier, meaning your wellbeing has improved. Yay!