Back to school…

Wonderful walks….

As we approach the end of the half term break…a wonderfully warm one which could’ve been better spent travelling…we look forward to the start of the final half term of the academic year. And what a half term it’ll be! Small classes, something we always dream of as a teacher, but not like this! I’m not sure that I’ve fully got my head around it really – it’s very much a case of let’s just wait and see. This is the longest time I’ve ever had off from teaching, it feels weird to be returning.

Infusion time!

Yesterday was infusion time again (cannot believe how quickly that eight weeks has flown by – all things considered). This time we were made to wear masks at the hospital – which I have spent some of my time in lockdown making – so I was fully equipped with my Liberty fabric mask (got to be stylish even in hospital).

Nothing exciting to report – my Vedolizumab still seems to be keeping my UC under control. Long may this continue. I cannot wait until we can travel again. I’m craving a trip to London! I’m missing the city, I’m missing the shows, I’m missing the culture, I’m missing the wandering at night just observing the city life. I can’t wait to be there again.

I’ve had a few days in the past few weeks where I thought I could be about to experience a flare again. But they came to nothing (apart from missing my daily PE with Joe) so I can breathe a sigh of relief.

The next few weeks will be a bizarre experience as we enter the time of a ‘new normality’. But we will get through, we will see family again (haven’t seen mine since February but we have a regular Zoom quiz) and we will enjoy all the things we did before.

We will stay positive!

Half Term (I Think….)

Things are looking rosy…..

Normally we’d be excited about the start of a half term break but the usual holiday spirit is dulled by the sense of all days blending into one. Weekends, Bank Holidays and the Easter break have all been overshadowed by this pandemic and the usual trudging routine that I’ve been sticking to in order to make the days pass. But pass they have – quicker than I’d have expected too.

Making masks and cards

New skills have been tried (sometimes successfully)! Zoom quizzes have taken the place of family get-togethers. And working has continued to mean staring at a screen for too many hours.

I’m still trying to follow the usual daily routine but have started getting up at my usual time for work (so I can get in a sneaky 6am walk). This is followed by PE with Joe, the positivity is all I need to inspire me for more online learning with my classes. At the end of the (online) school day it’s time for another walk. I think I mentioned before how much I love walking. It’s a time to listen to music or podcasts and (try) to clear my mind of all the stresses of staring at a screen. We may not be in school but we are still working!

This week’s learning has included some work on key philosophers throughout history and my Year 6 have done me proud with some inspired answers to my questions! Year 7 have been looking at Martin Luther King and constructing their own ‘I have a dream…’ speeches and Year 8 have been finding out more about Judaism.

I also spent a day in school this week. It’s always nice to have a day out of the house and some company! We spent some time looking at the idea of garden design and they were set the challenge of designing their own ‘Secret Garden’ for the RHS competition. Sadly I should’ve been at Chelsea Flower Show this weekend and spending some time in London (my happy place) – but there’s always next year!

Keep ploughing through……

Workouts, Working and Walking

Light at the end of the tunnel!

I haven’t written for a while and I don’t even know why, just couldn’t really find the words I suppose (certainly can’t use the excuse of lack of time). The days have blurred into one repetitive, groundhog day-esque routine. Weekends can no longer be distinguished from weekdays. Daily routine starts with a positive kick from PE with Joe which always leaves me feeling better, both mentally and physically.

I’ve been struggling with a random collection of IBD symptoms recently and as soon as one feels better another seems to appear – I wish I knew why. Currently my joints appear to have given up – but only on one side – possibly linked to a nasty reaction to Voltarol. This is affecting my sleep (along with the lack of mental stimulation of 25 students continually needing my attention). However, I will stay positive and continue doing what I do!

Most of my day is taken up with WFH – sending messages to students, feedback on student work, planning – all the usual teacher tasks but from a distance. I’m learning as I go along and discovering that some tasks work better than others. I’m currently teaching philosophy to my Year 6 pupils and they are loving it! They have been exploring ‘big questions’ and have fed-back about the fantastic discussions they’ve had with their families. I miss the discussions we would usually have in class but I’m glad I’m sparking that discussion at home (which might usually not have the time to come about). It’s what I always want as a teacher! You can find all my resources here: TES

The 3 o’clock bell rings at the end of school (or it would normally) so now is the time for the treat of my daily walk. I’m lucky to live in a small town surrounded by lots of wonderful countryside which I like to make the most of. I’ve always walked, long country hikes in the Cotswolds as a child made me what I am today! I love walking – probably my favourite hobby. It’s the thing that’s kept me sane over the past 7 weeks. I can listen to podcasts, music or simply my own thoughts – interrupted only by nature. I often stop (albeit briefly) to observe the nature that surrounds me. I’m always astounded by what I see. Despite having grown up surrounded by these wonders they will never fail to awe me.

Riverside walk in the sunshine

A Grand Day Out….

I know it feels a bit like groundhog day at the moment but yesterday was a big day…I got to go to school….to teach children!! It’s like I had been told I’d won the lottery (that’s how excited I was)! We had a wonderful day of PE with Joe Wicks, completing some of the online tasks all students have been set, an Easter egg decorating competition (that was like we’d told the kids they’d won the lottery)! and some afternoon artwork (following a skipping workout – we like to keep active).

It’s certainly different, trying to help students from 2 metres away isn’t always that easy, but we managed and we all had a wonderful day. The online work we are setting for pupils has yielded a daily bombardment of questions, answers, pictures and more questions but they have been great. As we try to find our way through the minefield of online learning (too much screen time, not enough devices, poor internet, parents working from home, no printer access) everyone is simply trying their hardest to do what is right. I have to say, it really was a grand day out, and I slept better having been mentally occupied in a way I’m far more used to (rather than simply staring at a screen).

I’m finding a daily routine helps to keep my head straight (mostly) and getting out in the sunshine is crucial (so grateful we have a daily walk allowance)! I’m also continuing my own learning using the OU and FutureLearn, some work related and some that simply pique my interest (who doesn’t love a bit of forensic psychology). I’m also finding a variety of webinars to get my imagination going (today was Digimap for schools – despite not even teaching geography this year – but it was where my career began).

I try to connect with other teachers and organisations trough Twitter (possibly my highest recommendation for anyone entering the teaching profession). I’m still continuing to create and upload resources to TES in the hope that they can help out a few others.

Tonight sees another 8pm #clapforcarers as we stay strong, safe and positive.

Lighting up a Monday morning!

Lighting up my Monday!

I realised I haven’t written much about the distance learning work I’ve been doing over the time we’ve been in lockdown. I’ve mainly just been uploading it on TES but I thought it might be helpful (if only to one other person) to put some on here too. So far I’ve prepared lessons for next week which encompass some revision of previous learning along with some new topic work. I think a little bit of trial and error will be the main measure of how things will proceed from there.

I’ve taken on advice about keeping things as simple as possible and not trying to cover too much, I can always add more in later. I’m also keeping my form updated with a weekly newsletter – just a bit of fun really – with riddles and challenges. Mainly to try and keep in contact with them. They’ve been great – letting me know what they’ve been up to, sending me pictures and videos and making me smile every day!

Although I know many people have struggled with working from home and feeling isolated I have actually relished it (I’m a bit of a loner anyway)! I’ve been able to get around to jobs that have been on the ‘to do’ list for weeks, months or sometimes years! I’ve also got around to reading some books (which I never find the time for when in school) as well as ‘enjoying’ Joe Wicks PE lesson every morning at 9am! I’ve even tidied cupboards I didn’t know I had (does anyone know what happens to all that missing Tuppaware?)

As I polish off the remaining Easter eggs I am determined to get more work done this week – as well as making the most of some time for myself.

Happy Monday, stay safe, stay positive.

Typical Tourists….

So it was eight years ago today (Easter Sunday) that we chose to ignore the advice of the guidebook – which said, in no uncertain terms don’t (absolutely, definitely) don’t go to DisneyLand on a Bank Holiday, especially Easter Sunday, as it would be all kinds of chaos!

Well, imagine the horror on our faces as we approached said ‘chaos’ at DisneyLand on that early Sunday morning….had we missed some kind of memo about DisneyLand being closed? Was there something wrong? No, turns out no-one really does anything before lunchtime so we pretty much had the place to ourselves for the first hour or so! Well, more fool them, as the temperature quickly became pretty unbearable for standing in queues for any rides we explored all the easy locations (read- bits without queues)!

We walked around the animals (having been raised in the country I still marvel at seeing animals) to be presented with what was billed at the ‘happiest goats in the world’! To be honest they looked ambivalent at best and I was reminded of my travelling companions descriptions in his guidebook from previous trips to the USA – ‘underwhelming’ being scrawled in the margins of many a travel guide!

The happiest goats in the world!

As the weather got too much for our pasty English complexions we took shelter in a nearby cinema for the luxury of air-conditioning (too cold it turns out)! But if you were to ask me now whether I’d want to do the whole thing all over again I’d happily be on the next flight out of here! The memories will always be there!

Until we can travel again the memories are what we will thrive on!

Happy Easter! Stay safe, stay positive.

California Dreamin’…….

So normally a beautifully sunny, warm Easter weekend would be something to behold….planned trips in the sunshine, whether abroad or at home would beckon and we’d stray from our homes to wherever takes our fancy. Over the past week social media has felt it needs to remind me that three years ago I was in Barcelona, five years ago – Venice, and I’m just awaiting the reminder that eight years ago this weekend I was in California!

Well, thanks Facebook for the reminders of those wonderful times. Sunny California, travels with my best friend, getting too hot at DisneyLand and having to spend the afternoon in an air-conditioned cinema (only to then get too cold)! Wandering aimlessly along Huntington beach and enjoying the sunshine. Getting lost on the first road-trip (from the airport to the hotel)! I often dream of recreating that trip….maybe, one day….

California Sunset 2012

Travels abroad have also lead to rescheduled flights, a night on the floor at Schipol airport due to gales and cancelled connections, getting lost in new places, terrible hotels, awful food and lack of sleep. But surely that is what travel is all about – overcoming the weird situations you find yourself in. It’s only when you have these opportunities taken away that you realise how much you actually enjoyed them! The wonders of hindsight.

This Easter will be spent very differently as we get ready to enter the fourth week of lockdown here in the UK, with no signs of it being lifted any time soon. It will seem like a very small world (appreciate the Disney link there)! But it will be sunny. I have a garden….I have a bikini…..maybe I’ll just pretend! Suncream on, sunglasses on, Los Gardenos here I come!

It’s a small world after all…..

Weird Weekend….Again!

Infusion time….

Well, Saturday was a much anticipated trip to the hospital. Despite the fact I’ve been going regularly for a few years now I really didn’t know what to expect in the current climate. The hospital, where you can normally wander pretty freely, was understandably fairly locked down (bells to press to enter anywhere) and the staff were almost unrecognisable behind mask and goggles. The unit was much busier than a usual Saturday as apparently everyone thought it was a good idea to get there much earlier than their appointment time! But, as ever, the staff were wonderful, the infusion was infused and I didn’t even have to do the usual hour long (and I mean long!) wait afterwards which was a bonus.

That meant back home and back to lockdown reality! Saturday was the first day I’d put on ‘proper’ clothes and any make up for over a week. Might as well make the most of a trip out, even if it is only to the hospital! My infusions do tend to take a bit of a toll and I spent the rest of Saturday feeling very tired (can definitely live with a bit of tiredness over the horrendous pain I was previously in)!

The rest of the weekend was spent pretty much as the week had been….doing work broken up by the daily walk allowance. Never have I been more organised in my work life though. I have almost set all the post-Easter work for my classes along with various other challenges and experiences for them to do whilst at home. I’ve written Easter cards to every pupil in my class (giving myself tennis elbow in the [very long] process) to keep them positive in the coming weeks. I’ve even completed a jigsaw which had been taking up space since New Year and baked cakes (neither a usual activity)!

I can only finish by saying thank goodness for the sunshine we have been seeing recently as it’s keeping everyone buoyed in this weird time.

Springtime blossom

April Fools…..

Lonely Plant – Toilet of the month – Bolivia

If you were to describe the current situation to someone it would sound like the most elaborate, ill-considered April Fool’s joke ever. But no, this is real (or should that be surreal) life. Almost two weeks into our lockdown situation I have realised three things: 1. I’m quite happy in my own company (I’m made for social distancing), 2. I don’t have to get up at 5.15am every day and 3. It is perfectly okay to teach remotely whilst wearing the same outfit three days in a row!

I’ve been make-up free for five days now! Sounds like the start of some kind of therapy but everyone seems to have altered their priorities and some things just don’t really seem to matter as much. I promise I’ll wear different clothes tomorrow though!

Teaching online has been enjoyable so far and has mainly consisted of me replying to an endless stream of questions from pupils and trying to keep in touch with them. They are bearing up remarkably well. It is certainly true when they say kids are resilient! Often they keep me entertained with the messages they send me (just as they would in the classroom)! My favourite question so far was from a pupil who had listened to The Communards and remarked of Jimmy Somerville’s voice “how can he sing so high for so long?” I’m still chuckling about that one!

I was pondering the though of travel as I took my daily walk (sounds like some kind of dystopian reality) and cannot wait to start thinking about (and planning) all the things I want to do what we come out the other side of this. I have so many plans in my head that I never seem to get around to but I think this situation makes you realise you should just get out and do things whilst you can. Bring on the next holiday!

Speaking of dystopian reality I have a scheduled hospital appointment at the weekend….could be interesting! Despite going every eight weeks and being very familiar with the hospital and the process I really do wonder what I will see on arrival. Whatever happens I will always sing the praises of the NHS. They’ve always been there when I’ve needed them.

Weird Weekends

Well they don’t come much weirder than this one. Not because anything out of the ordinary happened but more because it didn’t. A weekend which was supposed to have been spent in London exploring and running a half marathon saw us entering the first weekend of lockdown. I haven’t changed my routine from the one in the week…I think it’s the only way I’ll get through.

I’ve managed to get out and enjoy the sunshine on the once-a-day walk we are allowed. Thank goodness for that sunshine, I feel it has kept everyone sane this week. As the clocks change it hardly seems relevant when so many have nowhere to go when they do get up!

I’ve continued to work through the weekend. I’m working on the premise that if I do it now I won’t have to do it when we finally escape from this nightmarish situation. I’m planning work for after Easter and re-configuring how I teach the curriculum using distance learning.

Travel plans are all on hold. I have friends stuck in various parts of the world in all variety of lockdown situations. Yet I still dream of going to far away places. Spending my birthday somewhere exciting. Feeling sunshine on my face and walking across a warm, sandy beach with not a care in the world. Escapism (even if only in my head) is definitely needed in such times. Those times will come! Who knows where and when, but they will come.

As week 2 of lockdown looms I plan my days fairly meticulously, both in order to stay sane and to ensure I don’t forget things I need to do!

Stay safe, stay positive!

Remember to say thank you – to anyone on the front line at this time!
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