Balancing Quality Time & What’s Ahead #2016

At the end of term in December, I drove away from the Netherlands with a delightful combination of high fever, aches, and intermittent double vision!

Two weeks later and two days into the New Year, I find myself sitting in the Sea View Lounge on the DFDS to Dunkirk enjoying my ‘latest find’, a lounge pass that gets you away from the masses. This little haven comes complete with newspapers, fresh pastries, unlimited coffee and some peace & quiet to reflect on what’s ahead as the holiday comes to a close. Thanks @DFDSSeaways, impressed with service on the UK-DK route!

Grateful for the respite the holiday afforded me to recover and glad to have brainpower back, I began writing a post during the crossing to kick off the year. Being ill over the holiday (isn’t it often the way…) had had an upside > a complete stop from the intricate workload of planning, senior leadership, upcoming MA assignment, blog, etc. and most unusually – an almost complete digital detox. Well … I confess, Twitter entertained me sporadically from the couch and a few themes caught my eye:

A wealth of social media posts on how to achieve downtime and recuperate seems to point to folk in education not being too good at either! I spotted a variety of reminders by and to educators, such as @eduappadvice.

Tchr Hols

A worthy read: Elizabeth Grace Saunders post about relearning the art of rest after intense times or project completion: Well-being – The Lost Art of Free Time”.

End of year countdown quotes, e.g. a little fresh-air realism from Interactive Schools @IntSchools. Their Nr.4 is a perfect message for those of us running INSET on Monday and for anyone in back-to-work mode!

@Interactive Schools NY Res

End of year app & tool reviews: Mark Anderson @ICT Evangelist got educators tweeting about their favourite apps and posted a Top Ten iPad Apps:

Top 10 2015

Looking for new ideas & inspiration in #2016? Take a peek at the List of Over 250 Online Courses/MOOCs Starting in January 2016.

So, while I wholeheartedly agree that taking time out is important – in fact imperative, why, as educators are we so bad at it? During a holiday, most of us will take time off, but at some point will find our minds drifting to thoughts of project planning and the like. Before you know it, we are right back into a mode of ‘what lies ahead once term begins’.

Similarly, it’s all too tempting to check-in to social media and observe what our networks and global media are showing us – good or bad. I promote right time right use of technology and information with my students, but like many of us, confess to spending too much time browsing, and multi-tasking in abundance.

As we move into a new year, I’m working on my awareness of quality time, both personal and at work, ever conscious that as soon as a pacey term begins, time will become premium.

Building a full picture of your schedule is important to maintain a balance of meaningful focus, along with a healthy overview of what’s ahead. Workwise, I’m starting with a couple of quick wins such as ‘Inbox Zero’ (see below) to protect time that is needed for the more important aspects of teaching and innovation. Personally, I’m building in social time, creativity and exercise.

To give you an idea of what will feature in my planning and schedule overview, here is a sneak peak for January and February!

#2016: What’s Ahead?

INSET promises an exciting start testing #BSN2016 Conference check-in, and interactive sessions with BSN CEO @kieran_earley and keynote from @SimonNoakes. It was VERY cool to see live response data during the session, congratulations to our IT Team for the set-up!

Wow - INSET1

CPL1: Simon Noakes session “Social Media is not a fad?” raised thought-provoking issues such as the positives and negatives of tech enabling a ‘no waiting’ culture; current family quality time including technology within shared spaces; learning to fail and igniting passion as well as how the Social Landscape today = Listening, Learning, Adapting.

Find a spark

Social Landscape
Images source: @SimonNoakes &

CPL2: Back on site, to build upon an existing embedded culture of coaching, professional dialogue and reflection, we continue our work on capturing professional learning experiences @BSN_JSL. Today’s combined session focuses on review training for existing and new line managers, led by our Head Teacher @David_Porritt, and I train the team on using BlueSky Education (@BlueSkyMatters) Manage tools to oversee and interact with team/individual professional objectives.

Reflecting after the inset sessions, I feel there is a parallel between social media personal and educational use, and capturing professional evidence and experience. Both practices need to be meaningful, manageable and have impact to bring effective results.

Curriculum & New Projects: opportunities to connect …

In January new #computing modules get underway for Spring Term, and we build connections via Edmodo blog with students and colleagues @westmallingCEP to follow up on my Talking Tech visit in December. Thankyou Mr. Clark and Miss H, excited to get our students learning about each others’ locality, topic projects and talents.

On the 20-22nd I’ll be heading to #Bett2016 with my fellow Learning Technology Managers to check out developing technologies and meet with other tech educators. See BETT agenda.

BETT What's On

February brings a new and exciting opportunity when I present at the 8th Annual 21st Century Learning Conference in Hong Kong (@21cli). Last year I travelled to the Conference as 21st Century Teacher of The Year Finalist 2014 and I’m thrilled to join the presenters there this year!

My workshop Finding Your Voice – Engaging Students Through Cross-Curricula Computing Projects  will include some of my MA Research on developing student agency through computing and share practical examples of EYFS through to Y6 projects.

In between, I’ll be writing the next MA assignment: “What is narrative and how might our understanding of it help to interpret our experiences of interactive narrative texts.”

Inbox Zero: last term working in multiple roles, swelling email traffic became pretty unworkable. This term, I’m blocking time in the week to address incoming mail and admin.Mailbox Zero I will, however, continue to encourage the ‘think before you mail’ principle with staff, i.e.

‘Can what you want to say/share be explored in a conversation rather than a mail, Y/N?’ If it’s a No and results in a mail – which specific recipients need to read it?

It’s important to remember a] every mail sent requires an action of some sort by each recipient addressed and b] a mail sent does not guarantee mail read, which can lead to miscommunication.

So …

While I’m not big on New Year Resolutions, after a restorative timeout,  I’m definitely better equipped to prioritize what to protect in order to maintain a balance between personal and professional capacity.

After all – a healthier balance isn’t just for New Year and January – it’s for life.


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