Hello, I am so sorry about not writing on here in such a long time but my work/life balance has been anything but balanced and I haven’t found a moment to sit down and write. So tonight, after a KFC tea (the diet can start on Monday!) and somehow getting all my marking done at school I have found it is 8pm and I am ready for school tomorrow so I can sit and attempt a blog!
I am Literacy lead at my school and one of the highlights since taking on this role is seeing the excitement of our year 5 pupils as they selected their first of three book through our partnership with the Literacy Trust. Tomorrow afternoon they will finally get their (hopefully too grubby) hands on their chosen books. I have been asked daily for the past month when they were getting their book and seeing the excitement for reading has warmed my heart. To make tomorrow a bit more special I will be providing the children with some sweet treats and a milkshake to slurp on while getting stuck into their new book.
For as long as I can remember I have loved books – my childhood was filled with books and I see myself begging my mum for ‘Just 5 more minutes’ to reach the end of my book or chapter before I turned my light off. I was lucky, my mum loved reading and this rubbed off on me. Each night she dedicated time before bed to read, often ending with her nodding off! One of my granddad’s fondest memories of me is when I was about 2, sitting on his lap and reading him a book. His favourite part of the story is that I had the book upside down but knew the story so well it didn’t stop me.
I sometimes feel in school that the children have lost that excitement for reading. The magic of opening a book and being transported off to anywhere, meeting the most weird and wonderful characters and going on the most amazing adventures without having to leave the house.
Half terms are what I live for, not only because I get to try and get ahead for the new term and catch up on some much needed sleep but because I get to read. I have a pile of ‘to read’ books that are begging to be read but don’t get a look in whilst I am teaching.
On Facebook a couple of weeks ago a good friend of mine put a status asking what everyone’s favourite books were. .. it got me thinking about what are my favourite books – the ones that I really love and have read over and over again. This proved to be difficult as I am so indecisive and felt bad about leaving books out (they have feelings you know!) So I have managed to compiled 2 lists – my favourite books as an adult and my favourite children’s books to share with the children or to teach from.
- Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince – JK Rowling
- The Handmaid Tale – Margaret Atwood
- Brave New World – Aldous Huxley
- Gone Girl – Gillian Flynn
- The Curious Incident of the dog in the nighttime – Mark Haddon
- 1984 – George Orwell
- The Kite Runner – Khaled Hosseini
- Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland – Lewis Carroll
- The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides
- Memoirs of a Geisha – Arthur Golden
- The Princess and the White Bear King – Tanya Robyn-Batt
- The Pebble in my Pocket – Meredith Hooper
- The Day the Crayons Quit – Drew Daywalt
- Five minutes Peace – Jill Murphy
- Charlotte’s Web – E.E. White
- Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – Roald Dahl
- The Secret Garden – Frances Hodgeson Burnett
- Aesop’s Fables
- My Naughty Little Sister – Shirley Hughes
- Giraffes Can’t Dance – Giles Andreae
Has anyone read these? What are your favourite books? I am always on the look out for awesome books… might need a trip to Ikea during half term to get another bookshelf!
Thanks for reading…
Following on from one of my previous blog posts about the benefits of children spending more time on digital devices I have allowed my class more access to the iPads in the classroom. I have been specifically allowing them on them during golden time and guiding them toward the APPS they have been learning to use and not taking 12,425 selfies (I swear I didn’t teach them that!). They have not disappointed me… they have been making soundtracks to other children playing board games – creating tension, praise or disappointment depending on how the games turn out. They have also been creating their own mini movies based on the book that we have been reading – Charlie and the Chocolate Factory which is making me wonder when the Peterborough Oscars are because I would love to enter some of their work. They have been loving applying the skills they have been taught in computing and in my mind this has allowed for purposeful application of what they have learnt. A win/win situation for me and my class. Something I will definitely continue with.
I love shoes – I am a shoe hoarder and I have shoes that I shouldn’t really have any more – but I can’t bear to part with them. Now for a lady who loves shoes as much as I do – I also love being shoe free. I kick off my shoes as soon as I get home and even though I have many pairs of adorable slippers I still prefer not to have them on. I feel more relaxed and comfortable without shoes of any type on my feet.
With my shoe/less preference in mind I stumbled across this article – Primary school makes pupils take their SHOES off before lessons in an attempt to improve classroom behaviour and cut down on bullying. The article I read spoke of research carried out by boffins at Bournemouth University about the benefits of shoeless classrooms, as seen around the world. Many schools from all over the world such as Scandinavia and New Zealand have already implemented ‘No Shoes in School’ and have seen improvements in behaviour and academic achievement. Now I really don’t like the idea of making the children take their shoes off because in the past I have taught some children who hate the feeling of not having shoes on however, it did get me thinking once again of these benefits and if it was something worth trialling with my class.
I decided to ask my children how they would feel about me letting them take their shoes off at certain points during the day for lessons or tasks such as Art or Big Write. I shared with them a video of CBBC Newsround where they saw children of a similar age who were saying that they worked harder and that they thought other children were better behaved when they didn’t have their shoes on. Their response following my proposal and the video was overwhelming- firstly they were shocked that I would ‘allow’ them to take their shoes off and secondly they all agreed that it would make them work harder and seemed excited to release their feet!
So this week I am going to trial this. We are having a Big Write on Wednesday afternoon which is always hard work (they tend to write better in the morning not following their lunch when they are likely to slip into a carb induced coma!) I am hoping that them having the choice to have bare feet will make them feel more grounded and more focused which in turn will hopefully impact positively on their work. I will let you know how they got on and if it is something that I will do more regularly.
Wish me luck!
As the lovely Rhianna once sang “Work, work, work, work, work, work You see me I be work, work, work, work, work, work.” Now she may not have been very eloquent and definitely used the word ‘work’ more than I would allow in a big write however it does sum up my life at the moment.
I used trusty Google to find the definition of work life balance just to make sure I hadn’t accidently got the wrong meaning. It did confirm that it is the division of one’s time and focus between working and family or leisure activities.
I am the first to admit that I do not have a work/life balance. My life revolves around work and has done since I became a teacher. I am normally at work before 7.30am and I am often found tapping away on my laptop till gone 9pm at home. I am a perfectionist and I am a worrier which is a deadly combination when it comes to time management in this profession (or any other I suppose). I love my job but the pressure and the level of work is getting harder and harder to maintain.
Tonight is an example of my evenings and how I have got the balance all wrong. I have just marked 90 books and have another 20 that I will need to mark in the morning because I simply couldn’t carry any more. I have made WALTs including differentiated and colour coded success criteria. I have created activities for Maths and Guided reading as well as writing a detailed letter to the teacher who will be covering my English release in the morning. We also had staff meeting after school, I am exhausted and it is only Monday!
I have seen in the news more and more about ‘Staff Wellbeing’and how school’s senior management teams need to acknowledge the pressure teaching staff are under and get teachers to keep hold of their joy of teaching. In an article the Guardian I read “Good teachers are happy,” said McGill. “But if they don’t have a chance to breathe, they can’t be happy.”
So how can we get the balance back and make sure we are feeling happy again?
My school has attempted to do this in the form of a ‘Staff Wellbeing Week’. It had all the right intentions however badly timed for me! On the Monday my year group are going on a school trip (always fun with 90 children and a chocolate factory – this could be a book!), Tuesday is a book scrutiny and Thursday I am being observed. Not sure I will be feeling very ‘well‘ by Friday and doubt I will be out the school gate by 4pm like planned on any of these days.
In an attempt to still make the most of wellbeing week in my PPA this week I will try to plan for lessons that will produce work that will not need an in depth mark and definitely will make sure I don’t have 110 books to mark in one night! I will also try and have one night where my laptop is shut off and put away by 8pm so I can have an earlier night.
I’ll keep you posted on if I have managed this!
Phew, finally finished planning, marking and prepping for tomorrow and I think I have just about enough time to try and write a blog post before I fall asleep.
Earlier this week I read an article on the BBC news website (shared by a lovely colleague who is great at keeping up with the news) about how moderate time on digital devices can boost children’s health and happiness. Read it yourself here
The article spoke about a study that has been conducted and had found a ‘Goldilocks effect’ where a few hours on a phone, tablet or computer could increase their mental wellbeing. It got me thinking that I might not be using my tablet devices in my classroom to their full potential.
I am very fortunate to have a full set of tablets in my classroom (sadly not fortunate enough that they all work at the same time!) My class adore time on them and often produce work which is of richer quality and keeps their attention on challenging tasks for longer. However I am always very conscious that if someone is carrying out a ‘learning walk’ that it could be seen as an easy option or that it is a holding task. Therefore I really do limit the time my class spend on them even encouraging not to use them during golden time.
After reading this article I think maybe I have been too tough on my class and that more sessions on the tablets might boost their health and happiness but I want to get the balance right. So tomorrow during golden time I plan to let my class have access to them alongside all of the other lovely games that Santa brought us (while they still have all of their pieces) Fingers crossed that the children and I all end with that ‘Friday Feeling!’
I am very limited in my knowledge of iPad APPs and what children enjoy and I wondered if any of you lovely people had any that you could share with me… please leave me a comment or a link.
On that note I am off to play candy crush… It is for my wellbeing… Honest!
Mrs W x