Spidey’s Serene Sunday – Part 195

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“Reading allows me to recharge my batteries.” – Rahul Dravid

Thank you, Spidey for this.

Last week we talked about reading chapter books to the Early Years.

I am proud to say I started. We did go for Winnie the Pooh.

And the vast majority of the children – loved it!

There were a few who lolled around on the carpet, but the rest enjoyed the story, and asked/answered questions. There was great thought going into imagining the images created by words.

I loved it. I wanted to read for longer!

That being said, I am now tired… tomorrow’s Chai and a Chat will tell you why.

I am off to recharge, and read.

  • So… tell me, what are you going to do to help yourself recharge today? 😘

Have a peaceful Sunday Peeps ❤ And enjoy your week!

Spidey’s Serene Sunday – Part 194

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“If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairytales. If you want them to be more intelligent, read them more fairytales.” – Albert Einstein

Thank you, Spidey for another thought-provoking quote.

He knew I have been thinking about reading for a long while and coupled with the amazing posts about reading to children from Jennie, over on her blog, it spurred me on to chase for something I truly believe in.

Jennie is a kindergarten teacher in the USA and I always marvel at her posts about the importance of reading to her class, where she even reads chapter books to her extremely young children.

I’ve often said to her that I would dearly love to do that, but with the intake of children we have in our nursery, the English language knowledge is so low that introducing them to picture books, where they have a wealth of imagery to help their understanding of the words I then read is more than enough stimulation. ( I haven’t really mentioned this year’s intake, but suffice to say, sitting for a five-minute story, complete with all the voices, and props, is tough… let alone a chapter book!)

However, as I was last year, I am also teaching in the Reception class which is the next year up.

Something our deputy head had said a few years back really stays in my mind. Upon being told that some older children, because of their English being poor, were taken out of class during spelling time, to concentrate on the simple cvc words, meaning they missed out on hearing new vocabulary, said “Let them stay. Let them hear those words. They may not know them now but somewhere in their subconscious, those words will sit, and one day they will be able to use them too. Yes, test them on the simple, but expose them to everything.”

Makes sense.

I took the bull by the horns last week, and mentioned to my Phase Leader that I really felt reading chapter books to the children, alongside picture books, would be really beneficial. We would be introducing them to new vocabulary, and hopefully watering the seeds in their imagination with the words, so they could learn to build images up in their minds, and hopefully, ignite their curiosity so that great conversations are started, after listening to the books we choose to read.

Thankfully, she was really excited about the idea. We are starting a topic about Bears next week, so I suggested Winnie the Pooh by A.A, Milne. I still have my box set of books from my childhood to read to them! Possibly even Paddington Bear if we get through it!

She was enthusiastic, so hopefully, as of tomorrow, I shall be reading something different to the children, something they may not have even seen before, and I hope I can help water their creativity.

Let us fuel their imagination so we can create the writers of the future.

So… tell me, which chapter book would you recommend for young readers? 😘

Have a peaceful Sunday Peeps ❤ And enjoy your week!

Phew Phriday! A Little Update

The weekend is upon us, and it’s been a whirlwind of a month to be honest!

What with the start of the month being back to school time, for me, and my children, to my birthday, the welcoming and settling in of my new nursery and reception class, family functions, initiating my school councillors, getting a nothing response for my manuscript, walking a half marathon and raising over £2500 with my Tootie Frootie group, having teen/tween crisis, then ending with a host of open days as my littlest baby will be stepping into Secondary education next year, it’s been quite a hectic one!

But I can honestly say I haven’t spent it looking at each week as a step closer to half term.

Usually, by this time of term, I am on a countdown. This year, however, I was pleasantly surprised when someone mentioned three weeks to go until the October half term!

Let’s break it down a little… School first.

Yes, I am split again this year, teaching 2 days in reception and three days in nursery, which is a tough task. But as I experienced it already last year, I am more prepared. This time last year, I was honestly contemplating giving up teaching as I was so stressed.

The children are settling in beautifully, with a mixture of abilities, as is always the case, and a rainbow of languages too. But, aside from the little pickles that are inevitable, things are pretty good.

I stepped down from governorship as we moved to an academy and there was only space for two, rather than three staff governors. That has lessened my stress levels too!

And I am still heading the School Council, where I have already made a couple of minor changes, so hopefully it will work much better over the year, bringing the desired impact for the pupils in the school.

Honestly, I do think that Art Of Brilliance workshop put me in the best frame of mind for the start of the school year, and that Pants-tastic board I created? It’s filling up with praise-filled undies!

There will always be little moments of stress, and a few teething problems, but I do feel I am handling them much better!

That Manuscript…

Some of you may remember that I submitted my age-old WIP in for a competition, the Daily Mail and Penguin Random House First Novel Competition. Well, I had to wait until the 21st September to see whether I heard anything from them… and it came and went, with no response.

I know.

First submission and all that, but I was really down for a few days, It helped to get messages from those who were with me on the journey.

“Hey, come on lovely. It’s a great story and you are a fabulous writer. Send it to agents!”

And

“I just know that you are going to be a huge success though, your blog alone will give you a massive outlet for it and your personality shines through and new readers will love that.”

Then

“I have faith in your writing, too, Ritu! Believe in your book and keep pushing your writing. Magic will happen! ✨✨✨

I feel better now, and maybe in the holidays I’ll reread and edit in earnest before submitting to some agents!
That Half Marathon…
Yup, after not really training, as such, my Tootie Frootie group trudged through the rain-soaked streets of London, raising lots of money for Cancer Research!
So proud of my girls!
Of Teens and Tweens
I haven’t really written much about this the last month, as I am trying to stay positive, but having a ten-going on 16 year old daughter, and a newly teenaged son has been a battle in itself! God, they would try the patience of a saint, honestly!
There have been arguments, and laughter, tantrums and hugs.. oh my!
But with a combination of compromise and reward charts, and pocket money initiatives, (not bribery, no!) I think we may be getting somewhere!
Secondary School
What with Lil Princess being in the last year of primary school, we are fast approaching the time where we need to apply for her secondary school, and I’ll need to give up the overprotective teacher/parent hat, as I become simply a teacher at my school, and a parent at another!
We have been to our first open evening, have another open day tomorrow and another couple next week…
Really?
Is she ready to go to secondary? Actually, I think I should rephrase that… am I ready for her to grow up?
It’s inevitable, I know, but I still can’t quite comprehend that this time next year both my children will be in secondary school! EEK!
So, there you have it… my busy September!
I’ll be sure to enjoy this last weekend, then on we go to an October packed with more fun and games!

 

I’m a 1%er! The Art Of Brilliance @BeingBrilliant #MondayBlogs

When something stirs me, I have to post, and I have been affected, in positive ways, by several training sessions at school.

You may remember my posts:

At One With A Malteser

Fixed Vs. Growth Mindset

Fixed Vs. Growth Mindset: The Round Roti

(If you don’t, well they click away, I’m sure you’ll be inspired too!)

Last Friday, we were treated to a cracker of a three-hour training session by the official Doctor of Happiness, Andy Cope.

And what a wonderfully upbeat, positivity-filled guy to deliver this workshop!

Andy Cope

Andy Cope

The workshop was entitled The Art Of Being Brilliant. And it really was BRILLIANT!

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Andy Cope has researched for 12 years about the emotion of happiness, at a time when all other psychologists were busy looking at the ‘illness’ aspect of state of mind. Depression/why are we down?/mental health issues… but no one was out there, thinking about what created happiness, or that feeling of contentment, and how we could all turn our state to ‘happy’ instead of ‘down’.

So he did.

We started off being shown a word.

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A Finnish word, which piqued my interest straight away, what with my Finnish connections!

The Finns have a word that is all about their favourite bouncy cushions!

We were then instructed to go home, find those ‘meh’ pants in our underwear drawers, and chuck them away. Instead, we should start our day with our ‘special’ pants.

Why?

Because every day is special.

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And that is so true, isn’t it?

Through a series of humorous slides, clips and activities, the main aim was to show us that we needed to foster that internal sense of positivity that lives within us all.

There have been many types of research done on creativity and our ways of thinking. And all of them point to the fact that as a child, we are all geniuses, thinking out of the box.

But as we grow older, it gets taught out of us.

At school, we are not necessarily encouraged to have our own off the wall ideas, but to conform to a certain method of how to solve a maths problem, or how to conduct an experiment. Even art is prescribed.

A nursery child is likely to be fearless, in the name of learning about life, from jumping around to tasting strange things. But that same child will be totally different, ten years down the line, almost afraid to be unique in his thinking, following the expectations of the teacher, the school, and the government.

Slowly that creativity is almost beaten out of us.

It’s the same with our thinking and positivity.

The majority of the world is stuck in a loop. A learned loop. Learned from the grown us around us, the teachers who influence us, our colleagues.

And we, in turn, will pass that same thinking on to others.

If all you hear is moaning, and negativity, you are likely to find that you are also becoming the same – a Mood Hoover, as Andy Cope calls them.

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Instead of seeing the bright side of life, it’s much easier to see the flip side. And moan.

According to Andy, a third of the population are what he calls Mood Hoovers.

The rest of us hover between being a bit moany, a bit negative, but there are periods of brightness, positivity and HAPPINESS too.

Then there are the 2%ers – the 2% of the population who are truly happy, content with life, positive and at peace.

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These are the people who have learned to wake in the morning feeling thankful, facing every day with a zing in their step, not afraid to try something different from the norm, and they’ve learned to ‘build a bridge’ over troubles, and minor niggles, and ‘let them go’.

They are the people who seem to naturally follow the Danish Hygge way of thinking…

Embracing the little things that give happiness.

Sure, they will have down days too, they’re only human, but for the majority of their time, they choose to be happy and smile in the face of life.

“What does all this have to do with teaching?” I hear you say.

Well, nothing, and everything really!

The thought behind this is that you, and how you project yourself as a teacher, has a huge impact on your class. If you show that positivity, fearlessness, and excitement, and embrace the unknown yourself, you are likely to be the teacher that creates that kind of ‘2%er’ influence in the life of children who may live in a house of ‘Mood Hoovers’.

You have the confidence to try new things, and you show the children that it is okay to learn ‘differently’.

You foster a love of learning with your own enthusiasm – and they WANT to learn!

And if we, as teachers can do this, our schools will become places where people want to come. We can help to create a generation of ‘2%ers’, unafraid to step out into the unknown, and excited by what life may have in store for them.

Seriously, mind blown!

And even cooler… There was a competition… to win a Happy tee-shirt… and I won!

Yes, I bought more books (I’m a bookaholic, I can’t help myself) but one was a ‘gift’ from our headteacher. And I am really excited to read them too!

As I went to collect my stuff, our deputy head smiled at me and said “Well done!”. I joked, that I must be one of those ‘2%ers’ then and he said “No Ritu, you are definitely a 1%er. That wasn’t your victory, it was a victory for our school.”

I was so touched… It means a lot to me to be seen as that positive influence, and I hope my love for teaching, learning, my job, my pupils and my colleagues shines through…

(As long as he wasn’t referring to some other 1% of the population who is as annoying as heck, smiling all the time!)

And I have sorted my undies out, only the best ones now for every day. I’ll use my best crockery, and wear my ‘nice’ clothes because every day is a new day. I’ve been building bridges over minor niggles and letting things go too. And going forward, I’ll use that lovely stationery I have collected, and take some of my special Arts and Crafts resources to school for the children to use, rather than leave them in boxes, for those just-in-case moments… Every day IS SPECIAL and so are we all!

(But as it’s my birthday today too, I’ll wear my extra special undies along with my Happy tee shirt!!!!)

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Schools out there, I’d definitely recommend The Art Of Brilliance as a tool to reignite a flame of positivity that seems to have dimmed withing us all. We can all do it, it just seems we need to relearn how to be happy. And if we are happy, it automatically reflects upon how we are as teachers and colleagues, which in turn will create a positive, exciting learning environment, and engaged children.

From Andy Cope!

Find out more at:

https://www.artofbrilliance.co.uk/

Twitter: @beingbrilliant

Instagram: @artofbrilliance

The Onset of Inset Days #BackToSchool #TeachersLife

You know what time of year it is now, don’t you?

That end of holidays, getting-back-into-a-normal-routine time.

Rushing-around-finding-uniforms-and-stationery-supplies-time.

That having-to-get-up-early time.

Yes.

School is about to start up again for thousands across the country.

Responsible adults need to drag those affected from the addictions of late nights and lie-ins,  screen and social media that six weeks off has allowed, and bring them back to reality.

Yup.

Teachers – we are going back to work!

You see, it’s not just kids that have to gear themselves up for that September start.

Us educators need to brace ourselves for that new academic year start too!

You’d think after our epic long holiday, we’d all be full of energy, having had NO WORK for all that time…

Aside from the fact we’ve probably been working for in excess of fifty hours a week, during the academic year (and being paid for only 32.5 each week – standard – in our contracts, no such thing as claiming overtime as a teacher) and totally deserve a school-free break, it’s probably not been the case at all.

Teachers around the country will have spent a few days, at least, in their new year’s classrooms, clearing, rebacking boards, labelling, organising, moving furniture, writing up class lists for various things…

Then the rest of the time, we chill out and get drunk every day we firstly sleep off the exhaustion of the previous year (unless we have kids, in which case, good luck – Busman’s holiday, anyone?!) then try really hard to forget school for a little while, but any trips to the locality brings our profession back to mind, as we inevitably bump into several ex-pupils, current students or parents!

Or, everywhere we go, an educational opportunity arises, which means notes need to be taken, for future reference.

Yes, we will spend inordinate amounts of time on screens, but if you peek over our shoulders, we are likely to be on Pinterest, filling new boards with fantastic topic ideas or YouTube, finding great videos to share with our class!

Shopping trips will be peppered with impromptu visits to stationery shops, or bargain shops, where we find things that would just be wonderful in the classroom, and because we might not find them again, in pops teachers hand into own pocket, and suddenly there is an almighty hole in the bank account that we probably won’t be able to claim back… but it’s for the kids, so, you know…

We may have managed to squeeze a proper holiday into the time too, and emerged tanned and relaxed, or more exhausted than when the departed!

Still, all good things must come to an end, and all that, and here we are on the cusp of the new academic year.

Time to get ready for meeting our new classes, forging bonds with new members of staff, commiserating with those of us who are still there,  getting used to changes that will inevitaby be applied, because the government thinks things need doing differently… that sort of thing.

 

At least we have two Inset days.

Sometimes, Inset days are my favourite days.

Because we are at school – with NO KIDS! (Neither Pupil, nor Personal – you get my jig?)

Yes, it can be a day filled with pointless training (but equally, we can have inspiring speakers in who actually help!) but you also get time in your classrooms to organise, (yup, it needs redoing, because the cleaners will have been in, and though your room will be sparkly clean, the desks will have been moved around and nothing will be exactly as you left it. FACT!)

But no kids means you can get your teacher head back on, before the onslaught arrival of your new batch of prospective devils precious pupils.

Time to get familiar with the routines again, and get as up to date as you can with the endless paperwork, so that when the children arrive, you can actually teach them, rather than spend the time ticking boxes. (Though that will still play a huge part in your daily life as a teacher – some things never change…)

Then, on Monday, it’s back to work with a WHOOSH!

So, as you happily dress your little angels and pack them off on their first day back, thankful that you don’t have to deal with the daily meltdowns for all 24 of the hours, take pity on the teacher you are entrusting them to… teachers like me!

HAPPY BACK TO SCHOOL my fellow teachers!

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