Sunday, 26 June 2016

Why Teacher Job Shares Are Actually Great

Ok, so I'm generalising. Just as there will be anomalies with anything, there will be instances where teacher job shares are not so great.

But, in my experience they are brilliant.

They are often seen as the less favourable option for head teachers and parents alike who are worried about consistency for the children.

But as long as there is good communication, job share teachers are a fantastically positive thing for teachers, support staff, employers, parents and children:

• Productivity. Job share teachers often go above and beyond the 50% (or whatever percentage) of the workload they are employed to do. Often, instead of sharing or halving a task, job share teachers will take on extra because one member will do one task and the other will do another one. They often do work on their week days off too; maybe snatching a couple of hours whilst their baby naps. This is their day off - and yet they are working from home.

• Enthusiasm. I am not ashamed to admit that when I taught full time, Wednesday afternoons and Thursdays were often quite low key for me because, basically, I was shattered. No matter what your job, I imagine you can relate to this. Monday is a fresh new day and Tuesday is similar. Then Friday is, well, Friday. The bonus you get with a job share is that, for one of the teachers, it is always Monday, Tuesday or Friday (it's either their first, second or last working day of the week) and you get the accompanying levels of enthusiasm every day.

• Adaptability. Children have to learn this. It is key to being a successful adult and is a key aspect of the Early Years curriculum. By having job share teachers, children are automatically adapting to routines, people and different approaches to teaching and learning without even really trying.

• Positive relationships. We don't always 'gel' with everyone we meet in life. Children, parents and support staff are not going to gel with every teacher they work with. Job shares offer different dynamics which can be a fantastic tool for improved relationships between parents, children and other staff members.

• Consistency. Yes I know this sounds ridiculous but hear me out. Teachers are sometimes unwell. They sometimes have dependents who are unwell. This means that sometimes they need time off work. Sometimes for a week. Maybe two weeks. Sometimes longer. In these instances, a supply teacher will often cover the class; a teacher who does not know the children, the parents or the other staff. The bonus you have with a job share is that, halfway through the week, you get a consistent teacher back in the classroom. You have someone who knows the children and everyone else and who can likely teach them more effectively than someone who is not familiar with them and their needs.

So don't freak out if your child gets a job share team. Even if you've had a bad experience of one before. I have taught children with Autistic Spectrum Disorders as a job share. I have taught children with emotional and behavioural difficulties as a job share. And they have all thrived in those situations.

Two heads sometimes really are better than one.

I've been nominated for a Mum and Working Award for writing passionately about both my jobs - being a Mummy and being a teacher. If you fancy being really nice to me you can vote for me by clicking the link below. It'll only take a minute - promise! I'll send you virtual cake and gin.

Friday, 24 June 2016

Let's Be Better Not Bitter

I have spent today thinking about the EU. I cried on the way to work over the EU. I didn't even realise I cared so much about the EU.

But the old adage "you don't know what you've got until it's gone" could've been my Thought of the Day today. 

I didn't know anything about the EU. I still don't profess to be an expert. But I didn't want to trust the propaganda of either campaign and I didn't want to base my decision on TV debates between politicians who don't have a brilliant track record of transparency and honesty in such debates.

So I researched. I researched the history and the legislation and trade agreements. I researched case studies of non EU countries and compared them to the UK. I researched the things which would directly and immediately affect me and my family.

And I chose to Remain.

And so did a lot of other people. But a few (hundred thousand) more voted to Leave. So we leave.

It is not an ideal decision for me. I personally don't think the general public has the complex understanding of the EU necessary to make such an historically and politically monumental decision. But the government did. 

And, as I said, it's not an ideal decision for me. But that doesn't make it wrong. It doesn't make everyone who voted to leave an ignorant moron.

But Facebook disagrees.

We'd already had a month and more of links to articles and speeches in support of Remain and Leave. Generally people were passionate. Some to the point of rudeness. Some beyond that point. The country was divided to the max.

Or so we thought.

This morning we woke up to the news that we would leave the EU. At first people were 'shocked' and 'upset' and 'saddened'.

And then it got a bit worse.

People became 'ashamed' and 'disgusted' by the 'xenophobic', 'racist' people who voted to leave based on 'intolerance' and 'hatred'.

I've read all these words today. Many times on many threads. Facebook has been fed hatred all day and has duly spewed it to the world. I have friends and family who voted to Leave. I am not ashamed of them. I am not disgusted by them. 

I have two colleagues at work who I also consider good friends. They both voted Leave. Passionately. We are all teachers in a school where only around 25% of children are White British. If they are racist, intolerant, xenophobic people then they are hiding it in such a way that I expect to see them nominated in next year's Oscars.

The irony of many Remain supporters calling Leave voters 'intolerant', 'judgemental' and 'prejudiced' is alarming when they are displaying those exact qualities themselves. They are proving themselves intolerant of anyone who has a different viewpoint; anyone who makes a different decision. They are making snap judgements about these people; judgements that these people are filled with hatred and that they make decisions fuelled by racism.

Is it really that hard to understand that people make different decisions to our own? Is it hard to comprehend that people make choices based on their own life experiences and not those of a stranger on the Internet? 

Making the decision was only the beginning of the divide. But it doesn't have to be. 

We can be bitter. Or we can be better.

We can unite and ride out the wave of instability which may ultimately prove to be a positive means to a better end.

If David Cameron can be gracious in defeat, I think we should all be able to manage it.

The same backlash happened after the last general election where the Conservative voters were humble in their victory and the Labour voters became bitter, name-calling keyboard warriors. Why can't we accept defeat without attacking the victors?

This referendum united the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition. That is an amazing political achievement. But we can't see the positives.

We can be upset and disappointed and angry. We can tell people how we feel. But we can't call people  the c word because they want to leave the EU. 

Now is not the time to divide and conquer. Now is the time to unite for stronger. Unlike the referendum, there's only one real option here. We are leaving. We can throw our toys out of the pram and call Nigel Farage names (he may have gone a little over the top with the whole 'Independence Day' thing!) but we have to move forward. 

And we have to move forward respecting each other. United as one diversely, great nation.

Otherwise, what the hell have we been fighting for?

The Pramshed

Sunday, 19 June 2016

How I Keep My House Clean

People always ask me how I keep my house so neat and tidy.

Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha.

Of course they don't.

I have two young children and a dog.

How do I keep my house clean?

I don't.*

Even the dog is thinking wtf?!

*just to clarify that we don't live like complete tramps, I do throw bleach at the toilets every couple of days and whizz round with the baby wipes bi-weekly. And then husband usually steps in to do a proper clean every weekend to avoid us living in squalor.

Proudly linking up with:
Rhyming with Wine
This Mum's Life

Monday, 13 June 2016

Stop Acting Just Like Me!

Im in the kitchen waiting for the kettle to boil. And also secretly shovelling Haribo into my mouth by the handful.

The kids are in the lounge eating raisins and watching Ruff Ruff Tweet and Dave before we go up to run the bath for bedtime (a bedtime I've actually not been praying for since 11am today).

Suddenly I hear the most almighty scream from the lounge. It is so high pitched and full of pain that I just know someone's lost a limb at least. Possibly two.

I abandon the kettle and rush to the aid of my children, one of whom is surely lying bleeding profusely with his arm hanging off judging by the noise.

"Are you ok?" I ask as I survey the scene and realise they're both still sitting on the sofa with raisin-less bowls.

"I bited my tongue," says the three year old forlornly.

He bit his tongue? I swallowed six Haribo whole and ran faster (albeit 2 metres) than Ive ever ran because he bit his tongue.

I give him a cuddle and indulge him a bit because, in his defence, it bloody well hurts when you bite your tongue. But whilst I'm cuddling him I'm rolling my eyes a bit and wondering why he's so dramatic.

And then I realise.

It's because I am.

The other day I stubbed my toe (which to be fair is up there amongst the most physically painful experiences I've ever endured along with paper cuts and child birth) and I had to take a moment to cry in the bathroom compose myself before carrying on with life.

And so whilst I bemoan the Big One for having the mood swings of a pre-menstrual fifteen year old girl or complain that the Little One is being a miserable sod because he's tired, I should remember that they are only acting JUST LIKE ME.

I am hard bloody work. I am dramatic and I'm a cow when I'm tired. My moods swing more than the swings at the park on a very windy day.

But those same qualities which make me dramatic make me passionate. They make me determined and assertive. Those same traits which make me a cow when I'm tired mean I don't really take any sh*t from anyone. Those same moods which seem to change as often as my toddler's favourite foods (hourly) mean I experience emotion in such a heightened way that loving someone becomes part of who I am.

And I love my kids beyond anything I've ever felt. They are physically a part of me.

And they are emotionally a part of me.

I couldn't be more proud.

They can scream as if a rabid wolf got in the house because they stubbed their toe if they want.

I know I do.

Because it really f*cking hurts.

Me stubbing my toe on the stairs:

Proudly linking up with
My Kid Doesn't Poop Rainbows
Pink Pear Bear

Wednesday, 1 June 2016

Dear Terrible Parents

I'll start by saying that I'm not a judgy Mummy. I have a ton of failings as a parent and, as such, I realise that I am not superior to anyone else.

I have always maintained that, unless you are a perfect parent, then you can't lay blame on others for their parenting right?


Today I realised that it's ok to judge some parents.

But I'm not talking about those little things which some people deem to be inferior parenting.

I'm not talking about bottle feeding or three McDonalds trips a week. I'm not talking about four hours in front of the TV every day or iPads at bedtime. Im not talking about snapping at your kids round Asda because they won't stay near the trolley whilst you're picking your broccoli.

I'm talking about parents like the disgusting parents of poor little two year old Liam Fee - Rachel and Nyomi - who, this week, were charged with his murder.

They hit him with such force that his heart ruptured.

But this was only after subjecting him to a string of abuse which is amongst the worst I've ever read. I won't go into details because it's too harrowing, but you can read the details here.

Today my kids went to nursery. I didn't have to work so I dropped them off and went to have my hair cut. The eldest had an epic tantrum about putting his coat on which led to me forgetting something and being a bit shouty on the way.

When I'd dropped them off I sat in the car and cried because I'd been a bit shouty. And also because the youngest keeps waking up at 4am and I'm knackered.

Sometimes I'm so tired I want to send them to nursery all week and just sleep all day every day. Sometimes their tantrums make me want to scream. Sometimes I have to grit my teeth and take deep breaths before answering to my name for the millionth time that day. Sometimes I get a bit shouty.

But I would never lock my children in a cage made from fire guards and cable ties or force them to eat their own excrement as a punishment.

When I read the details of their charges I almost burst into tears. I was in the hairdressers so I held it together. But afterwards, I got into the car and cried for the second time today. Not for my own kids this time because Mummy lost her shit a bit because of a coat. But for Liam Fee whose Mummies broke his leg, locked him in a room with rats and snakes and made him eat dog faeces.

I feel physically sick that people can treat children like that.

And I feel angry. So so angry.

I know the most wonderful people, couples with so much love and care and affection to offer a child. But they are struggling to have one. I know amazing parents who endured years of IVF before finally having their own baby. I know brave, resilient people who are going through the heartbreak of having a little one born at 24 weeks and fighting for her life.

I know strong, compassionate people who have miscarried babies. Who have given birth to sleeping babies. Who have lost babies in the first year of their life.

I am angry for all of them. All these amazing people who have not yet been blessed with children or who have lost them whilst there are people blessed with children who they are torturing in every sense of the word.

I am angry for Liam Fee for what he had to go through.

I am angry at the authorities for failing him as he 'slipped through the net' (their words).

I am so angry I am crying angry, frustrated tears of helplessness for the Liam Fees  of this world.

But I am also grateful for the blessing of my own children. Grateful that they know what it's like to be safe and warm and loved. Grateful that they know nothing of the horrors other poor innocent children endure.

Today I judged another parent. Two parents. And I found them wanting.

Rachel and Nyomi Fee are inferior to me. They are inferior to all of us. As parents, as people and as basic human beings.

They will soon know what it's like to be imprisoned.

Sadly, they will be treated far more humanely than they treated their children.

Rest in peace Liam.

Life with Baby Kicks