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Saturday, 1 August 2015

Let them know they are loved.

Thanks to my dear friend Marneta, (the lady behind Relax Kids) I have been challenged to write everyday. I'm not sure I can do that just yet as I a) don't want to bore people to death or b) usually I wait till I've got a fire in my belly about something. The last post was particularly fiery, I was so very sad about what's going on. However, now that I've had a week to regain my sanity, I am beginning to remember all the lovely, joyful things that teaching is all about. So I aim to share a few things as I think of them... As there are lots of positives about working with little ones. 

Something I feel very passionately about is making sure children know how great they are. That they can't be defined by a percentage or a grade. At the end of this year I held a little ceremony, where I invited each child up to the front of class one by one. I handed them a mix tape of our favourite songs and that we've listened to thorough out the year and a little card. More importantly though, I told each and everyone of them what was brilliant about them. What their strengths are, and that they are loved. I just hope they will remember all those things as they get older. As she took her CD, one little girl thanked me for loving her so much, bless her. 

As I said in the last post, being kind and working hard was what we focused on this year. I read the following quote and it resonated with me as it's the kind of thing my mum, and her mum (Nanny Pam - the hero) would say and do. 

"Spread love everywhere you go. First of all in your own house. Give love to your children, your husband or wife, your friend or your neighbour. Let no one ever come to you without leaving better or happier. Be the living expression of God's kindness, kindness in your face, kindness in your eyes, kindness in your smile, kindness in your warm greeting." 

Go on Mother Theresa! Yes, I just quoted the big MT. You can ignore the God part in that if you want, I'm not preaching. The important part is the rest of it.

Now that we've all chundered everywhere at how sickening this post has been.... My friends will agree; I am not one for sweetness and innocence but sod it, the world could do with a bit of love! 

Sunday, 26 July 2015

Age and Circumstance

End of term is here. Most of us teachers are in denial, drunk, look like ragged hobos, delirious with tiredness. We know that you resent us for having six weeks off but rest assured we are really grateful for having it. However, I challenge you to not only 'babysit' 30+ kids but actually teach them, for more than one week and then tell us we don't deserve a break. 

This year i've been teaching Year 2 in a big academy school. In a nutshell for those that don't know, their teacher abandoned them, they were off the wall, I came in as supply, ended up becoming their class teacher, taught them how to chill out...and now it's end of the year.

As we all know by now, in most schools there is an outrageous push for data and progress regardless of the children's age or circumstances. I don't need to bang on about that, it's happening all over the country and we all know it's bloody ridiculous. As i've just stated, my class are Year 2 and have had an extremely unstable start to their year, as well as a stream of teachers leaving throughout their school lives so far. Year 2 (age 6-7) is a SATS year group, which means they are tested and given a level that will predict what they will achieve in Year 6 (age 10-11). Of course, when you're say, 30 it seems perfectly reasonable that you could take a test and that could predict what you would score in a similar situation 4 years later. Of course, life wouldn't change at all in those 4 years. You wouldn't move house, no one would die, you wouldn't get sick, you wouldn't have relationship changes. It would all be a direct upward curve into you getting exactly what you are predicted, right?

Of course it bloody wouldn't. Life changes, sh*t happens, and for a child who is less able to control these factors it seems exceptionally unfair to put them under these pressures. For example, if your parents separate in-between Years 2 and 6, your life can change dramatically. In many cases with little ones I've worked with, it doesn't change for the better and this will obviously affect what the government mean by 'progress'. More simply, a child's hamster could die on the day of the test, leaving them distraught. Then the result is awful and we all get it in the neck. 

  • These results are not showing us what the children excel in or enjoy. What about those who aren't academic? Where are we going to get out designers, artists, musicians, actors from? These guys will never have the confidence or skills to succeed in these areas because they are taught from a young age to pass tests in maths and English that mean sod all. I haven't taught the arts this year, because i've had to get the little blighters through exams. 
  • The results from primary school are generally ignored when they get to secondary. Most secondary teachers will tell you that they largely re-assess using their own judgements in the children's first year anyway. So, can anyone tell me what the point is?
  • Oh yes. So we can have league tables and all judge each other on the performance of the schools.
  • Wait - these aren't accurate though because data is largely fixed. I, as a class teacher made judgements on my children on what levels they were on, having worked with the kids every day - I know what they are capable of. This however, didn't fit in with the data profile the school wanted to meet - so on my day off, my levels were moved up.  You may as well have put a jacket potato at the front of the class, because if you are going to make my levels up at the end of the year, then what the bloody hell has been the point of me working my arse off to teach the children for the past 10 months.

Top quotes from management this year:

"But if you don't move put the children at that level our data won't look very good."

SLT - "I need your predictions for what levels the children would have got on the new curriculum."
ME -"Ok, but we haven't taught them the new curriculum, so...it won't match up."
SLT -"They are the levels I need to show your pupil progress."
ME -"So why have I been under so much pressure to make these levels if YOU'RE NOT EVEN USING THEM NOW? Might as well have rolled the old jacket potato out again."

No response.

*and breathe*

"If the moderators come in then we'll just have to blag why we've put them there."

My personal favourite:

"Just leave the SEN ones on the back burner, don't worry about them, they won't make it anyway so we'll focus on the group who can make a level 2." 

Sure. I'll just ignore the SEN kids, chuck them on the back burner. They don't matter do they - I mean, it's not like they're humans, or have feelings or anything. They're 'stupid' so they don't count. Right?

I will NEVER discount a child in my class, and don't you dare ask me to do so. Every single child in that class deserves the same amount of education, love, care and respect as the next. They might not be able to 'make progress' in the eyes of the government. However, if they can do well their own eyes, and believe in themselves, not because of a test result, that is what's important. That stands for all my children. All of them.

My headteacher told me that my data was disappointing and that I needed to send her an urgent action plan with what I was going to do to improve it. Here are some suggestions: Come and meet my class, get to know the kids. Understand that most of them come from broken homes. Understand that a lot of them are unfed or unwashed for days. Understand them some of them have gone into care. Understand that 23 kids in my class are spring and summer born children. That is why they are not making the same grade as the national average. Age is important to remember in teaching, really important. Two of my dearest friends have had babies this school year, one in September and one in June. September baby is crawling, communicating, dancing, eating with his own hands, causing havoc and requiring cupboard locks. June baby is still very much being breast fed, a gorgeous little 7 week old, choosing between laying down in a cot, a buggy,  or in someones arms. Imagine if I asked them to both perform the same action - say, crawl from one end of the room to the other. September baby would smash it, whereas June baby quite rightly, wouldn't be able to achieve it at the moment. She will be able to, in her own time. Please don't get me wrong, I understand that there will be exceptions here and things change as children get older. However when 74% of your class are significantly younger, yet asked to achieve the same thing, the likelihood is the results won't be the same. 

Needless to say, (the urge to quote Alan Partridge here is phenomenal but I shall hold back) my children DID achieve great things this year. They have all learnt how to relax and be mindful. They are all able to tell me what makes them happy and that the good things about themselves. They all understand that in life they will have to do things they don't enjoy at times. They all know the following, as I made sure they could all tell me what our motto was before I left.

'Be kind and try your hardest.'

If at the end of the day you can say you did that, then you're doing a good job.  I'm aware that life isn't all roses and they do need to learn maths and English! If I was allowed to I would teach the children about the real world, and prepare them for that instead of for a silly test. But for now, I remember that they are children. 

Kindness and hardwork will get them further then a SATS paper, any day of the week. 

Friday, 13 March 2015

Mindful Kids...Taking Over the World

Hello again everyone. Where were we...? 

In my last post I mentioned that things had taken some fairly meaty twists and turns. I had worked really hard at setting up my own little business - Miss Honey On A Mission, which was marvellous and all very exciting. I then ended up being spat out of that phase of my life to somewhere entirely different. My main priority at that time was to make enough money to live and ended up supply teaching for a while, which was a real treat to behold. The things I have seen. The things I have heard. *shudder*

I ended up finding a job in a big, academy school in a 'underprivileged' area. My predecessor left the class half way through a term because of 'illness'. It later transpires that teacher left because the class were in honesty, bloody hard work. Year 2, 31 kids, 19 on the pupil premium register, in a mobile classroom, with no resources and a TA till 11.30am. They had had several different supply teachers in a short space of time, no routine, no consistent boundaries; needless to say when I arrived they were MENTAL. Absolutely mental. In an ideal world I hoped to supply a few days a week whilst getting the business off the ground, however after meeting these little guys I felt so desperately for them that I decided to dive in and embrace teaching again for 4 days a week. 

Holy. Moly.
Lord give me strength.

I see this as the Whoopi phase of my life, where in true Sister Act 2 style I am determined to transform the little herberts and give them a chance. (To the All State Music Competition!) I'm delighted to report that 6 months on, it's working. I saw the opportunity to use all the mindfulness and meditation techniques in full force with an entire class of children. More than anything these guys needed some down time and discipline. For a lot of them I know i'm the only constant in their lives, so even though there have been moments where I want to lie face down in the sandpit - I am hellbent on making it a positive experience for them. 

Straight away we implemented 'relax' moments three times a day; as soon as they come in to school, after play time and after lunch. These are the moments where they most need it. For those of you that haven't experienced it, the playground is practically a jungle of death. Chaos beyond all measure, fighting, biting, screaming, crying, cold, rain, kiss chase, bull dog... 'BUT SHE'S BEEN ON THE CLIMBING FRAME FOR AGES FOR AGES AND IT'S MY TURN'.  

To begin with it was a total shambles, about 3 of them could stand still and none of them could close their eyes. The lack of trust was unreal - it was as though they were afraid of being attacked if they shut down their senses for a moment. I explained to them that they have a little wise owl in their heads that decides what they are doing. They also have a big box in their heads that stores all the information they need, all their memories and learning stuffs. I have told the children that if the little wise owl is in a flap, he can't access that box of learning - but if we teach the owl how to chill out, then everyone can learn, everyone is happy, everyone is chilled. (There is scientific reasoning behind the wise owl madness, however I shan't bore you with it now.) All the kids fully embraced this and began talking about whether their wise owls were chilled or not - and how it was affecting them. Essentially, that's 6 year olds being mindful.

The turning point for me was when a little boy with severe learning difficulties said to me 'Miss, can I do the relax?' So he stood at the front of the class, and led his friends through some stretches and breathing exercises. He has a massive lisp, we could barely understand what he was saying, but it was one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen. This child was constantly in fights, socially very awkward and yet there he was leading his class to a calmer place. Now the children take it turns to lead the 'relax' and it's wonderful. 

Of course we are a SATS year group so the pressure is on, but these children all recognise now how to get into a good place. There are some children who are never going to get the grade but, they will hopefully go through school and beyond knowing how to look after themselves a little better. We now have a full hour on a Tuesday of full mindfulness and meditation sessions. Stretching, affirmations, massage, the lot. They absolutely love it. Behaviour in that class has improved beyond all my expectations, their results and progress are getting better by the week. They are living proof that mindfulness has a positive impact in every area of a child's life. One little girl who has an extremely hard life at home wrote me a letter to me that said,

"Dear Miss,

Thank for teaching me to breathe and go somewhere different in my head. When people are shouting I close my eyes and turn into Peter Pan and then I take over the world."


When I arrived at the school I said I would stay until the wind changes. (Mary Poppins.) I have sung "If you want to be somebody, if you want to go somewhere, you better wake up and pay attention" (Sister Mary Clarence/Whoopi) Next I am aiming for some Maria of off Sound of Music action. I WILL LIVE THE DREAM.

I am confident when I leave I will have hopefully made a difference to those children, so i'm happy with that.  

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Life happens. Deal with it.

Once again it's been a little while since I've written a post. As usual the last few months have been ridiculous - but what can I say asides from c'est la vie. Apparently moving house, changing jobs, setting up a business and relationship break ups are in the top ten most stressful things that a person can go through. So in my wisdom I decided to embrace all of that in one go. A few years ago, I went through similar and went slightly mad. In fact, I ended up in hospital in the style of an elderly person, totally unable to cope with the stress and was reduced to a wheezing, drivelling mess. I can assure you, being in such a bad place that someone else has to wipe your bottom for you is not a good situation for anyone to be in. I highly recommend not allowing yourself to get in such a state. This time however things are different. I have approached things very differently with a whole different mindset. People have suggested that I have grown up, however I find this highly unlikely. 

To cut a long story short - life was not going quite the way I planned. I am sure there are many people out there that had/have a life plan as they are growing up. If I were to follow the plan my friend's and I made in our teenage years, by now I should be married with a baby on the way living in a lovely little house with a puppy. 

Needless to say, that hasn't happened.
There is a huge amount of pressure in our society to follow a certain path and complete a check list. House, marriage, babies etc. This in turn creates a surge of panic in many people (mostly women) if you get to 30+ and you haven't achieved these things. I certainly went through a moment of thinking, 'I'm nearly 30. Unemployed. Single and essentially homeless.'  Things were to say the least rather bleak and I could've easily ended up in the elderly bum wiping hell again, however I stopped and thought about things differently.
I can't express enough the importance of giving yourself time to stop and think. During a Relax Kids session we teach the children to know how to stop, take a moment outside of their heads and come to terms with what's going on around them. We're all amazing at giving advice but don't often listen to it ourselves so with this in mind I decided to practice what I preach. The aim is to become an observer of your own thoughts without judging them. It's a bit like sitting in a cinema and watching your life on a screen - whilst sitting back and getting an objective point of view about what's happening. Then you get to weigh up what's going on and hopefully make some better, more rational decisions about stuff. So often we run around like crazy people without paying any attention to how things are making us feel. Instead of dealing with an issue, sometimes I can be found in flat denial and usually on Facebook. By actually giving yourself dedicated time just to be on your own each day (no phone, no books, nada) can make a huge difference to your perspective about things.

As my darling Dad so often asks me when i'm in a flap, 'Have you got your head stuck up your bum girl?' Usually the answer is yes. Therefore - take it out and look and look after yourself. 

It is vital to anyone going through anything - to surround yourself with positive, happy people that want the best for you. You'll know when you're around negative influences. It drains you. There are times where we all have to suffer fools but if you have the option, choose to be around people that will treat you in the same way you want to be treated.

Naturally I have eaten my body weight in chocolate and wine...  I could start banging on about how this is bad for you etc, but sod it. Sometimes you just need to eat the bl**dy cake and enjoy yourself. 

Jobs can make people miserable. I understand we all need to make money, but sod spending all our time doing something that makes us thoroughly miserable. Life is too short. Be happy now. When I left my job I was terrified and as my close friends will tell you, I get ever so windy when i'm nervous. It has been a windy time. However, I am determined to make a living out of something that I a) believe in  b) brings me joy c) brings others joy too. Sure, i've been tight for money but I'm getting there and it's worth it. 

Where you live can have a positive impact on life. I lived in London for nearly a decade and made some amazing memories and even better friends, but it was exhausting. I missed the sea and green stuff, so I left. Sod it. Why not. Now i'm out in the countryside paying a third of the amount in rent and living closer to my family. When you're around people that have known you your whole life, you've got no choice but to be yourself. Sure, I'm approaching 30 and living with two complete strangers but they turned out to be amazing.

One of the biggest things that's helped is gratitude. Sometimes life is bloody awful, but there's always something to be grateful for. The more you are grateful - the more good stuff happens. Gratitude is key. 

I'm aware that i'm banging on about my life - and quite rightly so you might not care about my cliche approaching 30 ramblings.I've been able to change things for the better because I have got an incredible group of friends, supportive family and have taught myself to be mindful and stop when I need to. But what about the people that don't have access to all that?

How are children prepared for such life events? I have to admit that when I was trying to cope with all of this at no point was I grateful for algebra or getting a 1A when I was 6. Don't get me wrong; obviously being numerate and literate are essential for day to day living. I also understand that parents have a great amount of responsibility in this area but let's remember though that some kids don't have that luxury.

However, I can't help but think that by ramming learning down children's throats in the way that we are isn't exactly going to help them with the big top ten stressful events. There has to be a place for teaching children about their emotional wellbeing and resilience. I have been supplying in some pretty rough areas of late and have witnessed a child be forced to stay in his soiled clothes after wetting himself, because he should've known better and bought his PE kit.(Age 5) I've seen children cry their eyes out because they can't do the maths test they were forced to do.(Aged 7) I've seen a little boy punch himself repeatedly because he 'hated school so much'. (Age 6)

What skills are we teaching kids that will help them get through the horror of being a teenager? Or getting bullied? Looking for a job? Self esteem when you get dumped? Confidence to get out of something when you know it's plain wrong? Losing someone they love? I'm fairly sure that 15 minutes of PSHE when we can fit it in, isn't covering it.

My point is (Finally! I hear you say...)is that we all need to teach these children the tools they need to get through life in general. 

Teach them to take time out, make a change when they need to, deal with their emotions, be grateful, be themselves and enjoy life.

I'm not suggesting for a second that I'm old and wise now. I will continue to make mistakes and be a wally for a long time to come. But hopefully I'll deal with it better now.  

I am delighted that I'll be offering Relax Kids classes soon in various forms. It as a shame to leave London when the momentum was strong, but life happens. East Anglia is about to have the love spread all over it like a big bit of buttery toast ... And I can't wait.  

Thursday, 26 June 2014

Business Time/End of Year/Chuffed.


April seems like a ridiculously long time ago. Since taking the terrifying plunge of leaving my job I have been a very busy little beaver. I have, as the title suggests become a 'business woman' - I say this in the most delicate sense of the word. In my experience there are a lucky minority of teachers who are able to dedicate time to the emotional well being - and if i'm honest any sort of imagination and fun to their classrooms in the way that they'd like to. I am determined to do something about this. 

Setting up a business sounds very grand. I could walk around saying, 'Oh hey, I own a business. I'm a business woman.' The temptation to wear an 80's power suit and some stilettos is UNREAL, however this would be less than productive. Owning a business means sod all unless you've got some big balls, determination and can accept that initially you will be a poor little church mouse. After registering the company I had to go to the bank to set up an account - I feel very old school about this, in that I dressed smartly and tried to look responsible with my folder of documents. 

Miss Honey - Business Woman

Bank Lady: Ok. What does MHOAM stand for?
Me: Miss Honey on a Mission.
Bank Lady: As in Miss Honey from Matilda? Wonderful. Tell me more. 

All was going well until the bank lady called another branch to verify something, I decided in spectacular fashion to send my cup of tea flying, all over myself, all over the desk, all over my folder of documents, and all over her. As she was on the phone, I started doing that bizarre thing that people do when you can't talk out loud; mouthing words as if you are deaf. I then had to run around the bank looking for a cloth. This may surprise you but there aren't many cloths available in a bank. Eventually a man found me, soaking wet, and retrieved some toilet roll. I managed to creep back into the room, to find the bank manager still on the phone. I then had to dab everything I could see with some very poor quality toilet roll, apologising in deaf speak. Luckily, she still opened the account for me and said;

"Well Miss Honey, we won't forget you in a hurry." 


As mentioned in last blog I have trained as a Relax Kids coach, enabling me to go into schools, community centres, hospitals etc etc... and offer children and their families and schools a bit of relaxation and mindfulness. The Director of Relax Kids, Marneta Viegas - is a hero. Absolutely inspiring and believes in the same as I do, that children have a right to a magical and happy childhood. There are a huge number of Relax Kids coaches, 1500+, and with mental health being very big on the new government agenda I can tell that this movement is about to get BIG. I am extremely excited about proud to be a part of it. (See more at www.relaxkids.com.)

I had the extreme honour of delivering a lecture at one of the UK's best teaching colleges,   (St Mary's University in Twickenham) to a group of 180 PGCE teaching students last week. It was their final ever lecture before finishing for the summer and going off to embrace their new teaching careers. I did this alongside my very dear friend Amy, who is still giving teaching her all in a primary school in Greater London. When we did a little survey  before the lecture, to ask teachers their top tips on surviving the trade, 70% said alcohol. We were tempted to stand at the front and shout, "RUUUUN! RUN WHILST YOU CAN!" However, we decided that this probably wasn't the most positive message to send out. Instead we focused on being realistic and telling these new teachers that the job is blooming hard work - but it is a powerful and special job if we all work together to make it so. We told these teachers to remember that the children are children - to remember they are individuals, not percentages. 

"I believe that children are the future.."
Amen to that Whitney.
Ps. RIP.

As the late and great Whitney Houston said - "I believe that children are the future". They are - and what we teach them now in terms of technology may be entirely irrelevant in 20 years time when they are out in the working world. With that in mind we should aim to give them the tools to cope with and have the confidence to work with whatever it is they want to by that point. 

Many teachers will be in assessment/report writing hell at the moment. There is a lot a pressure to make the right amount of progress. I won't harp on - I did that in the original post, but take a moment to remember that children's lives, nor their education is linear. How many of us are actually working in direct relation to the university degrees that we specialised in? Not many of us. So then why should a child's grades in aged 6 - HAVE to match up with those aged 11? It's a nonsense.  The current education system is creating an army of robots, forgetting about children's individual talents and creativity. Celebrate each child's talent - teach them to believe in themselves. That was our message in our lecture- alongside encouraging these teachers to remember themselves, to take time out and realise that you are more than your job. Inspectors, children, parents, head teachers... they can throw whatever they wish at you. At the end of the day if you are a TEACHER (or work with kids) this by nature makes you kind, creative, caring and generally awesome. 
I am currently creating my website, which will explain of what I do and the services I can offer to schools, community centres, hospitals and families. Relax Kids classes, Imagination Workshops and Private Tutoring (at the moment). Thank you to all of you who have been so kind to me on my journey so far! 

If in the meantime you want to know more, or know someone that does - email me at tilly@mhoam.co.uk - or follow me on twitter... https://twitter.com/tillywilko - I look forward to hearing from you!

This is a terrifying but exciting venture - if I can make the difference to just a few children, i'll be chuffed. And what a fantastic word chuffed is - say it out loud, go on. It'll make your day better.


Friday, 30 May 2014

Miss Honey Says Relax Kids II

The wedding of the year has been and gone and it was probably one of the best weekends of ALL TIME. Watching two people you love dearly share their promise to love one another, surrounded by nearest and dearests, was a real honour. The bride looked absolutely stunning. I found myself staring at my oldest friend, finding it hard to believe we weren't playing make believe - thinking I have never seen her look happier. Rachel's dreams came true that day and I hope it stays that way for her and her lovely husband. Of course, this has nothing to do with my blog, but it was so joyful that I had to write about it. In other news, Irish people are awesome.

On Monday when we all arrived home after too much food and not enough sleep - it was a shocker coming back to earth, but knowing I am venturing out on my own makes it all ok again. As I said last week I've recently completed my Relax Kids training. It took place in Ilfracombe, Devon. As I headed away from London and drove over the brow of a hill to be greeted with the ocean on the other side, surrounded by trees, cows and flowers, I knew it was going to be a goodun'. Over 3 days I was introduced to some already practising Relax Kids teachers, three ladies about to take the training like myself, the owner of the company Marneta, and her dog called RONNIE BARKER. I think that says it all really... 

What really surprised me was that there were coaches who had travelled from Holland, Germany, Canada and the United States to further their training and become trainees for their region. This speaks volumes to me about how much of an impact this is having, not just in the UK but internationally. These ladies who had been training for a while had only good things to say about the positive impact that the Relax Kids work they had been doing. These ladies aren't exactly your average Joe's either. They are teachers, counsellors, psychologists, successful business owners... and all raving about how positive Relax Kids is.

There's a lot to Relax Kids and I suggest you go to the website to have a look to find out more, but as a coach, I can now work with children in a vast number of ways. I have been approached by several schools to do class sessions, 1:1 sessions, Mum's who would like me to work with their children in the holidays, Staff sessions, ... The possibilities are endless and it is SO exciting to have the chance to spread the joy in a different way. 

In a typical class, the idea is that we work with the children through a 7 step programme, working from a high energy to low energy state. This way the kids get to work through their energy systems and basically chill out. This is the way they explain it on the website;

• Dynamic warm-ups and exercises 
• Exciting games
• Relaxing stretches
• Calming breathing exercises
• Soothing peer massage
• Positive affirmations
• Creative visualisations, mindfulness and meditations

It sounds a bit hippy dippy doesn't it.. but it is MARVELLOUS. As an adult engaging in an example class I had the most joyous of times and felt SO relaxed at the end of it all. It's wonderful to know I can go and do something I believe in, that includes magic and make believe but is so good for the children. 

I now have a lot of work to do to get certified so I can ready to rumble... Eek! Wish me luck. 

Thursday, 22 May 2014

Miss Honey says Relax Kids

In 2014 I've been on a little rollercoaster ride that's taken me to all sorts of marvellous places. I've learn a lot about lots of things - about what I think education should look like, about what it actually looks like, about what I think life should look like and what life actually looks like. In honesty, education can sometimes be rubbish and so can life. I was very close to sitting around and just letting life and a job I hated take over - lounging around in elasticated waste bands, eating cake, moaning about how awful it all was. A miserable porker. 

ALAS. I am not a miserable porker. I decided to go away and sort my life out. In January I went away for the weekend - whilst I was there I found a book called   "Aladdin's Magic Carpet" by Marneta Viegas. 52 visualisations/stories/mediations for children, all based on classic fairy tales and designed to help children relax. They are so busy. The poor little mites don't have a moment, as a typical day in school looks like this:

8.45 - White board work
9 - Literacy (5 ability groups) 
10-Guided reading (5 ability groups) 
10.30 - Play
10.45- Phonics (5 ability groups) 
11.10-Maths (5 ability groups) 
12- Lunch
1-Foundation subject 1
2-Foundation subject 2 
2.45- Assembly 
3.05- Home 

Not forgetting for some, they start at 7am at Breakfast club and finish at 6.30pm with dinner club. Or any other amount of clubs after school. 

Where possible, in my classroom I always tried to use lots of different techniques to allow the children some time to breathe. So we'd aim for 3 very short 'brain breaks' a day to help them calm down and remember who they are for a second. Every morning we'd start with some stretches, breathing and forgetting our worries - blowing them out of the window. My TA's and I always let them know when they're at school, they are safe and will be looked after.  On a Friday I had them all laying down, listening to some music and giving them a chance to actually reflect and think about what they'd learnt that week - there's no time for consolidation otherwise.

Sounds daft - but the children relish the opportunity for this. Sometimes we'd go off to a make believe  land, all whilst sat on the carpet. I'd watch the kids, their arms stretched out like wings, flying them off to another world inside their head. Magic. "Please Miss, can we do that again?"

The children in my class always made progress. Sometimes phenomenal progress - I believe it was because they were happy; happy children learn.

Back to my Aladdin's Carpet book. When time I bought it I remember thinking, I wish I could do this for a living. Go into schools and focus on making the children relaxed, happy, confident - ready to learn. As I said, when I went into teaching it was because of Miss Honey - she saw the magic in Matilda, gave her confidence and love and all the things she needed to defeat The Trunchbull. WELL. It bloomin' well turned out I can do it for a living. The lady who wrote the books, the lovely lovely Marneta, owns a fabulous company called Relax Kids. 'Calm Kids in a Chaotic World' - is their motto and you can train to be a relax kids coach, learn about their methodology on how to help the little darlings out in today's busy world. So guess what? I found a course - booked it - and just got back from a glorious training weekend in Devon. 

I don't have time to write about it now, as I'm on a train on my way my best friends wedding (so excited I could wee) but, I look forward to writing about the GLORY of my training weekend. 

As I've said before, I'm not here to slate the government. I'm not about muck spreading. I'm about JOY spreading. If we can't change the system from the top, get in at the bottom and do it, on the front line with the kids.