Claire’s Blog

Some inspiration from Claire

Ever get that Sunday night feeling? It’s not that you don’t like your work, as such, it’s just that the thought of the new week and all of the items on your to-do list seem a little overwhelming perhaps?

Every Sunday night, The Hive of Wellbeing offers words of encouragement, hope, aspiration and a funny story or two to support Educators in smoothly breaking themselves into a new school week. The ‘Sunday Night Blues Spot’ is based around a favourite song whose title or theme reflects a thought for the week ahead. From Lenny Kravitz’s “Are you gonna go my way?”, a story of supporting positive relationships in schools; to Dolly Parton’s “9 to 5”, the tale of managing workload and aspirations; there is a song and an inspirational reflection for everyone!

Thank you!

Thank you to all Early Years practitioners, Support Staff, Teachers, Senior Leaders, Schools and Organisations who have supported The Hive over this last year. It …
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The Hive of Wellbeing

The Hive of Wellbeing

The Hive of Wellbeing is for teachers and school leaders who want to transform their own lives in order to transform the lives of their young people.

Sunday Night Blues Spot: Some colleagues may be on holiday this weekend, so please enjoy this rest-and-recovery interlude…For us all, we may be experiencing a real momentum to the term where the familiar experience of not being able to “switch off” from work has returned. It is a very understandable aspect of our working lives as educators because our work is not simply about the planning and the marking, but it’s about the people. Relationships are at the core of our work and enable the learning to take place. But with the many, many relationships that are formed and maintained with others every single day, it is understandable that the “to-do” list becomes a never-ending roll-call of what needs to be done for others! So who are you in all of this? How does being “on-call” to so many affect your energy levels? And how do you switch off from all of these needs and demands…if only for a little while?I think it is important to return to the founding principles of “who am I who does this work?” and “what do I need to do this work?” Being really clear on who you are and who you need to be each day can support our focus and clarity on what is possible each day. What about switching off? This is really challenging especially when we care so much; but what I would say is that boundaries do matter because they enable us to become really clear on the “I” and the “other” - instead of being enmeshed with others’ needs, you can identify your own and serve others from that healthy perspective within yourself.Once we stick to a boundary once, then we can practise this boundary again and again which becomes easier. It may be about leaving the school earlier on two days a week or for a whole week to restore energy levels. It may be about restricting the time and attention given to a situation or relationship that now needs a clear boundary. You are not necessarily stopping your care for a relationship, but you are finding new healthy ways to show that care. Switching off from work may require discipline as we find new ways to think about how we best support ourselves and others.In normalising our boundaries, we can protect our energy and get clear on what is our responsibility and what is not. Our own journey is not about perfection but it is about our own learning. Learning what does work for your energy levels, your well-being and your enthusiasm is critical in sustaining you on this career journey. So who are you? Who do you think you are? How might new behaviours and actions define you a little differently so that you feel you are standing in your own (girl or boy!) power? Take time this week to reflect on what you need. Reconnect with who you are and what enriches you most in your relationships to others.Wishing you a great week ahead with many positive girl and boy power moments ahead! ❤️m.youtube.com/watch?v=-YriinrRGug&feature=share&fbclid=IwAR3soy3YDonERUurblvjeMpBzD2wc5jbZAlgSnz0... ... See MoreSee Less
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2 weeks ago

The Hive of Wellbeing
Sunday Night Blues Spot: It seems to have become a little more complicated. Covid cases are up in communities and managing the cases, reporting them and addressing staffing absences might seem more complicated, as regulations changed at the beginning of term. Keeping a focus on the business of learning and teaching amidst disruption to classes is also complicated. Ensuring safeguarding and well-being of all pupils may also seem complicated, where some mental health issues may be emerging from the effects of this last year. In dealing with all of this complexity, how do we keep it simple for ourselves whilst also feeling that we are doing a good job? We know from neuroscience research that when we are faced with many tasks, multi-tasking depletes our efficacy and stress erodes our ability to make good decisions, problem-solve effectively or be flexible in our thinking. It’s also simply exhausting! There is something about our modern times where greater cognitive complexity in our tasks has a depleting effect on our bodies and we can feel zapped of energy. But simplifying our focus can be replenishing for us and enable us to make good choices throughout our day. How do we do this under such challenging circumstances? One thought occurs to me. Yesterday, whilst watching the incredibly inspiring Emma Radacanu play and win her first ever grand slam at the U.S. Open, I was really impressed with her approach to the game. She kept “playing the ball not the occasion,” meaning that she focused on her next point, her next ball without over-complicating the process. She didn’t look too far ahead nor did she focus on the what might or might not go well. She simply focused on what mattered in each moment and what she needed to do. This week, each day, is it possible to get up every morning and decide what is a simplified, realistic plan for your day? Once you have decided the general focus for the day, knowing that you may be served a few unexpected “top-spins”, can you consider how much from your “cognitive cup” you are prepared to pour into your work, whilst keeping a balance physically and emotionally? Can you find your centre-point throughout your day within yourself and keep your focus simple and balanced? And when you face the unexpected challenges, can you meet each one as it comes without thinking too far ahead? At the end of the school day, what else might you need to maintain simplicity, energy and focus? Exercise? Good nutrition? A focused hour of work with a timer at your desk before going home for the day? Decompression time with colleagues over a coffee? Whatever it is, take what you need to replenish you each day and to reduce the complexity and overwhelm of external circumstances that can be out of our control. Another feature of the game yesterday that occurred to me was the resilience of both players when they dropped a point. Their self-talk to keep going and to not give up was really evident, I thought, and a good reminder to us all. It might not be a grand slam that we are playing each day, but we need to focus on where we are “winning” in our working lives and whether we get everything “right” or finished, it’s the approach in every moment which can set us up for great success. Wishing you all a fantastic week ahead where you simplify your focus, “play each ball” and celebrate every deserved success. ❤️m.youtube.com/watch?v=5NPBIwQyPWE&feature=share&fbclid=IwAR3Jc6BI8vI9d42_XZ_EHyVtR7qd0qyA8oegFvp2... ... See MoreSee Less
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3 weeks ago

The Hive of Wellbeing
Sunday Night Blues Spot: What did you promise yourself as you started this term? What did you commit to in doing some aspect of your work or life differently to support your well-being? And how is it going?I know that as the term progresses we can start off with such good intentions and then become swamped with the tidal wave of needs that we start to uncover as we get to know our classes better and develop positive relationships. We perhaps start to stay a little later, or take some work home, or start to forego the gym sessions or healthy eating. The promise that we made to ourselves can be broken all too soon.So let’s step back a little: what made you decide to promise yourself that this year would be different? What mattered so much to you then? And what still matters to you about this commitment to yourself now? What has caused work to gather a momentum that might begin to outweigh the momentum you began with the promise to yourself about new well-being habits? Is there a need to reset those habits and default behaviours that can quickly erode your feeling of well-being? McKeown (2014) wrote about the principle of essentialism, whereby we focus on the “vital few and avoid the trivial many.” In applying this to the workload scenario, this may mean taking your to-do list this week and prioritising the vital few items for attention and completion. This may also mean that we do not meet everyone’s needs this week. We might let some people down. We might not complete some aspects of work on time which might feel dissatisfying. We might not win the approval of others by not getting everything done. However, you might feel accomplished in the core items you did achieve. You might feel that this renewed focus on the vital has revitalised your energy levels and provided space to engage in those new well-being resolutions that matter so much. You might feel that a practised focus on the vital each week enables you to achieve more as it feels less cluttered in your mind. You might also start to gain more perspective on what truly matters to you each day and each week, and in doing so, you might influence others’ attention and focus on what matters to them. Finally, what is the cost of not keeping your own promises to yourself? Surely you are worth every possible well-being investment so that you are resourced to the max for your work, and also for your life. This job will NEVER be completed- the learning journey is lifelong. So this week, what will be vital and add the most value to your learners? Wishing you all a great week ahead where you continually renew your promise to care for yourself and your needs, as well as those in your classes.❤️RIP Sarah Harding 🥲❤️ Thoughts and prayers for her and her family this evening. Thoughts and prayers to anyone going through cancer treatment or care or recovery from cancer at this time. ❤️youtube.com/watch?v=xPrZ4yAdj8I&feature=share ... See MoreSee Less
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4 weeks ago

The Hive of Wellbeing
Sunday Night Blues Spot: An early edition today as I’ll be visiting family later this evening…which made me think about the need for ongoing connection. I know in schools we are still in our bubbles, as cases rise and self-isolating continues. It is a real challenge to shake off the shackles of last year when similar patterns are emerging again. It is also true that the “settling-in period” for our children and young people is well and truly underway and routines might be feeling pretty well-established. Trying to sustain the supportive routines and successful learning for all pupils takes up a lot of energy and when things don’t work out as we had hoped or expected, then we can feel a little disheartened or deflated. So, what better way to feel uplifted than having the support and camaraderie of colleagues when things go awry?…However, if current restrictions continue to hamper opportunities to connect as usual, we perhaps have to consider creative ways to continue to connect. When we are feeling emotionally or energetically drained, connection with others is known to support our own self-regulation and increase the release of the social bonding hormone, oxytocin. This strengthens our connections with others and is considered to be cardio-protective. Having the right people by our side can really support our wellbeing. Staying in bubbles and having different staff room rotas etc has created some unhelpful behavioural habits which have, in some ways, impacted negatively on our wellbeing. People have spoken to me about the feeling of disconnect and isolation, at times, which is contrary to the heart of Education. Educators’ focus is constantly on human connections, whether it is relationships or learning or our need to flourish. So as the term progresses and the challenges to sustaining our energy levels occur, how can we look to one another to connect, to share the load, to energise one another and to have fun? What are our possibilities? Parker Palmer says “the human heart is the source of all good teaching” and I believe that this is the place to start. What are we feeling as individuals and as a team right now? How can we stay connected to how we are all feeling? What lifts us all in our connections and what are our team needs right now? How do we support one another in keeping the energy high? Some examples that I’ve heard about recently in sessions: an after-school staff walking group; an outdoors coffee club; music groups; “meet-and-greet” groups (it does what is says on the tin 🥲😂). Whatever it is that allows us to meet and to share the load can only be a good thing. People might say that there is not the time to meet or that we don’t want to burden others with our problems. Firstly, we never have enough time, never. But perhaps we can no longer afford NOT to make the time to connect with our colleagues as we face the challenges ahead. Consider what the benefits are to meeting one another for a couthy word or two at the end of the day, or comparing “funnies” in classroom conversations, which can allow us to decompress from the serious business of the day. Secondly, going it alone may not always serve us, as face-to-face communications contain a greater richness and clarity than an email. There also may be more in our conversations and connections that unite us rather than burden us. Can we be open to seeing our relationships differently and in new ways? We are all allowed to change and evolve.So this week, where the weather forecast looks positive, what are our possibilities to connect with one another, with the intention of sharing the load and sharing some fun? How can we interact with one another to lift our heads from the routines and to lift our hearts with stories of fun, success and examples of “what-not-to-do-with-that-class” at this stage of the term?! 😁Wishing you a great week ahead with fruitful connections, funny stories and right by the side of colleagues who support your success.❤️Eurythmics: Right By Your Sideyoutu.be/wwHwNTyCrPw ... See MoreSee Less
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1 month ago

The Hive of Wellbeing
Sunday Night Blues Spot: I hope you have all had a smooth return to work in this last week or so. What has emerged for me as a recurrent theme in this last week is the notion of trying to “stay ahead of the game” I.e. being so organised that we don’t fall behind with our to-do lists or our organisation. All best laid plans…If we do have a system that works well for us and we are able to keep up, then that is brilliant. For many of us, this is the Holy Grail! In every academic session that I ever was a part of, I remember often having the sense of my to-do list expanding at speed by week 3 or 4. Sometimes I might be quite hard on myself - “why can I not keep up? It’s only the start of the year!!” But the reality is that as we begin to immerse ourselves in the new school year, we become aware of so many more aspects of work that we need to attend to. It’s perhaps a similar experience to painting and decorating one room in our house, to then look more closely at the rest of the house and realise the whole house needs redecorated!! It might leave us a little overwhelmed! However, there is a way in which we can approach our work if this sentiment resonates with you. Jon Kabat-Zinn, the mindfulness teacher and researcher, uses the analogy of surfing: “You can’t stop the waves, but you can learn how to surf.” He is referring to the overwhelming thoughts we can have when we face challenging times. It makes me think about that relationship to workload as it begins to come in at speed and we realise all of the things that we need to do. So how do we “surf” the workload? Here are three suggestions. Firstly, I think it’s about non-attachment, so when something new arises and needs to be done, we aim to be non-reactive, reduce the emotional impact and take a practical approach to it - is it urgent? Important? 5mins or 5days or 5weeks time? What is the consequence of not doing this immediately? To me? To others?Secondly, to practise this non-attachment, we might have to observe which work demands cause us an emotional response. If positive emotion, what is specifically that makes us feel good? If negative emotion, what is it that we are so attached to? Is it the effort that we’ll need to make? Is it a lengthy task? How can we reframe that attachment and make the task more engaging? “Eat a frog early and quickly,” if this engages us more! Finally, acceptance that we are going to become more aware of more tasks as the term progresses may be resourceful. “Staying ahead of the game” might look and feel differently, if not all tasks are completed, but that is okay. I often think of workload like a garden - some seeds are planted, some plants grow, some overgrow and need cut back, some do not come to fruition at all. Some aspects of our work will need tending to, some may need more input at one time and less at other times, and some aspects of work might need to be abandoned as it’s not the right time. Going with the “flow” of work and “surfing the waves” may enable us to stay afloat and not feel submerged too soon! See where the tide takes you this week and trust that in seeing more waves coming towards you, you can choose a light, mindful surfboard to ride the waves that matter most. Forgive me for going a little “overboard” with the metaphors tonight (ahem! 🙄😩). Wishing you all a fantastic week! 🙏😊❤️m.youtube.com/watch?v=pUjE9H8QlA4&feature=share&fbclid=IwAR1K6zyEVWxS9qHsxVBGkYqvdCBEXDtSmDwk2lZH... ... See MoreSee Less
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1 month ago

The Hive of Wellbeing
Sunday Night Blues Spot: Welcome back from the summer holidays! I hope you have all had a refreshing and restorative break over the last number of weeks. Tonight, working 9-5 from Dolly Parton is the song of choice. A teacher’s work is never done between 9-5, but the sentiment on having boundaries as we make the transition back to work is definitely on point.I know I’m often talking about the benefits of boundaries and a commitment to yourself and your well-being; but I also know how difficult it is to maintain. I wonder how many of our boundaries are so tied up with our own unrealistic expectations of what we think work “should” be like when we get back? Perhaps it’s more helpful to approach it gently and gradually find our own new way with our working routine and arrangements? I also know that for many people returning to work last week and this week, there may feel like a whole different energy coming back. Some of us might feel really energised; some may feel nervous; some may feel some sadness and then guilt at feeling this way. We all may have a range of emotions on our return, and often for a whole range of reasons. Sadness may be due to having to readjust to working life and saying goodbye to our own children and family in the morning. Every transition involves some kind of a loss, so we are allowed to acknowledge it. The weeks of freedom to enjoy those family times and friendships provide us with great emotional sustenance, so it’s normal to feel this shift.Nervousness may be due to feeling that we won’t “be enough” for coming back, that we won’t be able to sustain the energy levels needed for the new term. Firstly, this is natural as we foresee the task before us and consider our own inner resourcefulness, especially after everything that we have been through. Secondly, who says that we have to do it the same way as we’ve done it before? How about we just allow ourselves to acclimatise - not acclimatising to the stress response, but acclimatising to the routines that work best for us? Turning up, planning some things and allowing some other ideas to unfold…People say to me, “oh we can’t keep blaming Covid for situations. We have to move forward.” I agree that blame is useless, but I disagree that how we may be feeling cannot be accounted for by the circumstances created by COVID. All education staff, at all levels were “on their knees” in June, like never before. Our bodies and minds are not machines. We are organic beings who pulse, who breathe in then out, who need rest and recovery amidst the work sprints that we call term-times. It’s not about blame; it’s about recognising the impact of a landscape scale crisis and understanding its immensity. What is it to “move forward” when we are still trying to articulate what has happened in the last 18months and its implications for these new times we live in? All good planning involves next steps informed by good evaluation processes, no? And all healing begins when we can name the pain and figure out its meaning. I’d say there are some new and exciting times ahead, which carry new understandings, new thoughts, new energy. But what that all looks like and sounds like might take some collective figuring out.So tomorrow morning, when it’s time to begin again, I hope you feel able to take what you need for your day. Stumble out of bed, if want to. Pour your cup of ambition, if you want to. Do what you need to do. Work the hours you need to this week and in coming weeks, knowing that you are making the transition not only from holiday time into working life, but also from the last 18months into a new era, whatever that is and whatever you want to make of it. Take what you need. What’s possible? Wishing you all every success at the start of a new academic session. ❤️m.youtube.com/watch?v=UbxUSsFXYo4&fbclid=IwAR2G0PHAAKh-GTfroBXvmvEfV03lZEkTF6gYvQJAM8T8f8t0R_kS6Y... ... See MoreSee Less
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