Learning to work the differences

This week I have been getting used to a few changes around here.
Just after Easter I accepted a job at a new school, where I would be working just three days a week. That wasn’t the only difference between my old job and the one I accepted…

Old school: New school:
2000 students 84 students
Year 7-13 (Ages 11-18) Year R-12 (Ages 4-17)
Five other ICT teachers I am the sole ICT teacher
State school Private school
Working 5 days a week Working Wed-Fri
Four technicians working at the school I am also the sole technician at the school
Full schemes of work for years 7-13 No schemes of work for years 5-12
Class sizes of 30+ Class sizes of between 1 and 11 students
Teaching 500 students a week Teaching 33 students a week
400+ staff, mainly full time 17 staff, all but three part-time

So, as you can see, there are quite a few changes that I need to get used to over the next few weeks!  The schools are nothing alike!  As posted on Twitter earlier in the week, it has been a long while since I was in an assembly where students put up their hands to ask to ‘go for a wee-wee’!!!

I am somewhat of a perfectionist when it comes to everything I do and marking and planning for 500 kids a week has left me feeling rather stressed this year.  Don’t get me wrong; I know there will still be plenty of stress from other areas whilst working in my new school, but I think I will feel much happier and more confident that I am delivering a better service to the kids I teach.

Working part time will enable me to visit my Mum more, who is battling with cancer at the moment.  It will also give me time to perfect plans for my upcoming wedding and Dan and I are hoping to set up a joint business over the coming months, which will be easier to do whilst only contracted to work three days a week.  I feel like I have been spread too thinly over the past year and have not been able to complete everything the way I would like to have done.

flowersI started my new school on Tuesday this week as there was a staff training day scheduled and I wanted to know a few faces before beginning my teaching week the following day.  Everybody was incredibly friendly and helpful.  When I returned home, Dan had bought me a bunch of my favourite flowers…roses and lillies.  He’s a keeper!

I have finally been running again this week too.  YAY!!!  Phoebe sent through my schedule for Mon-Thurs, asking me to update her after that so that she can tweak my training as necessary.

When I ran my 30min easy on Monday I felt like my legs were all over the place…they weren’t sure where to be at all and I must have looked a little like Phoebe Buffay’s version of running without meaning to!  I could feel that my right side was a little weaker than my left still, so made sure to stretch lots when I returned home.

Tuesday I headed out for a 45 minute easy run and, although my leg felt stronger, towards the end of the run it still began to feel a little weaker once more.  My pace was much slower and I began preparing myself for a PW at Bristol half next week.

Wednesday and I headed out of the door only to bump into a friend from club who had literally just begun her 10mile run of the evening.  We tweaked her route so that I could join her for the first 30 minutes before completing the last 15 minutes on my own as I made my way back home.  Running with somebody again was great, and when she left I realised that I was no longer conscious of my running position – it felt natural again, and I had automatically picked up the pace back to my regular rhythm (although some of this might be to do with me legging it through a field of cows, after having heard lots of cow/runner horror stories recently!)  I hadn’t noticed the weakness in my right side once.

Thursday and a 90 minute run with 4x6min threshold blocks towards the end.  My body was tired by this point.  I had been at school for three days, taking in lots of new information.  I’d been in bed early the previous two nights, not feeling great and had been off my food again, so was probably not fuelled properly to run for 90 mins by the time I got out there.  I started out really slowly and despite being completely energyless by the time I returned home, LOVED being able to run for 90 minutes again!  (Although yes, I do know that my 50mile race coming up is likely to be about nine times as long as that!)  I did feel my right side during the final half hour of my run, so stopped to stretch it out on the run.  Phoebe has suggested that during my upcoming longer runs I stop briefly to stretch every 20 minutes into the run to prevent the weakness from the beginning.  It just feels great to be running again!

A bank holiday catchup

With the weather being so nice on Monday and Dan being off due to the Bank holiday we decided to pack up a picnic and head to the lakes for a bike ride.  We rented bikes for £6 for the hour and ended up biking about 10 miles.  (I only know this from running the route previously!)


Unfortunately (or fortunately!) I never got a picture of me out on the bike.  About 40 minutes in we stopped on a bridge to grab a quick drink from our packed up picnic.


And I took some pictures of the views whilst Dan packed up the cups.


Once we’d returned the bikes we found a spot with the perfect amount of sun and shade and sat down to enjoy our picnic.  We’d gotten a little over-ambitious with the amount we’d packed and couldn’t finish it all, so the rest then became our tea later that evening.


Dan dropped me off at the stables on the way home and I took Fella out for an hours walk, although he was a pain as there were lots of bikers out in the nice weather and he did a few spins on the road at one point so we turned around and went home again.  I would have continued had he been my horse, but being someone elses it always makes me edgy.

I got Dan to come and pick me up from the stables (a couple of miles away) as my leg was aching by this point and I had long since completed my 30-45min recovery run equivalent for the day.  I didn’t want to aggravate my leg further.  Dan suggested we finish the day over in the beer garden at our local, which we did.  It was so nice to get out together and have no laptops or phones to distract us.  Sometimes I think these can ruin a relationship.  We always try to fit in at least one ‘date night’ a week where phones and laptops are not invited!wpid-IMG_20130826_183011.jpg

Yesterday I woke up early to head into work with Dan.  It worked out about £25 cheaper to travel to London from Cambridge than it did my local station and I had an appointment for an MRI scan at 12pm at Vista Diagnostics in Waterloo.


First problem of the day: my train was cancelled!  Luckily I had arrived at the station early enough to catch an earlier train.

Next problem of the day: when I arrived at VD they told me that they currently had no power and had not been able to complete any scans all morning.  I could wait if I liked.  Glad I did, as the engineer they had out to fix the problem solved it within minutes and my appointment was only 20 minutes late.  I was taken through to a cubicle to change into a hospital gown.

wpid-IMAG1163.jpgOnce in the scanner room I climbed onto the bed, was positioned in place, had a pad placed across my hip, was handed a ball to squeeze in case I needed to talk to anyone on the outside and told not to move to prevent blurring on the scans.

They also put a set of headphones on me and told me that they would block out the loud noises of the machine.  They played some rubbish music and I was trying hard not to resist throwing them off my head when the machine started up with the noise and I was glad of the headphones to partially cover up the sound!

When someone tells you not to move you are left feeling like you MUST stretch or fidget or at least brush your hair from your face.  I tried to concentrate on the scratches in the ceiling of the machine.  Wondering if people had tried to claw their way out in the past!

Within minutes I think I must have fallen asleep and I vaguely remember coming in and out of consciousness over the next 30 minutes before I was pulled out of the machine and asked to change back into my clothes and head back to reception where I was handed my images on a CD and told that I would be receiving a full report of my scan findings within the next 48 hours.

It ended up being so quick and efficient that I even managed to catch an earlier train back and finish off my book ‘Mockingjay’ by Suzanne Collins.  The third in the Hunger Games collection.  I loved the first Hunger Games film and had been desperate to see it at the cinema after watching the very first trailer last year.  Whilst I was on a school trip to Africa last Summer I got through the first book in less than 24 hours!  The second one taking me not too much longer once I arrived back in England at the end of August.  I hadn’t managed to find the time to read the third one until just recently though and I was not happy with the ending.  :(  About a chapter before the end I knew there would be no ending I would be happy with any more but knew I had to finish the book.  Has anyone else read the Hunger Games books?  What did you think of the ending?…

I fell asleep on the drive back from Cambridge.  (Sorry Dan!)  And after a quick gym session I checked out the photos on the CD at the same time as checking out the new issue of Women’s Running mag with more pictures of us Operation Ultra runners inside…


Now I just need to wait to hear the result of my scan!

Respect and support

Wednesday was a difficult day at school.  Half of my form didn’t turn up in the morning and upon investigating with my support tutor, we discovered them all downstairs along with 40-50 other students.

It turned out that the night before whilst at cadets, one of our year 9 students had died of an asthma attack.  Students in school were devastated and there were groups of them crying, some even howling all over the school.  Teachers were also trying not to shed tears whilst supporting the friends and classmates of the student who had died.  I had taught her this year and she had also been a member of our riding club when we first started out.

The head called an emergency assembly for all year 9 students.  Counsellors were made available for both staff and students.  I had two lessons with year 9s straight after the assembly and altered both accordingly.  We ended up creating a large A3 memories sheet which all students in the class added a note to and the best friends printed out some pictures from the internet.

elouiseOver lunch, the students I had taught, along with several other hundred year 9 students began to stick memories onto the tree where she used to sit to have her lunch.  I thought it was a lovely gesture from the students to post pictures and messages to the student that had died.  Something more permanent will be placed under the tree over the coming weeks.

The whole school site had the strangest atmosphere all day.  I couldn’t concentrate at all in the afternoon.  Since I began teaching nearly three years ago this is the fourth student to die at the school I am working at, and the second that I had personally taught.  Fourteen is too young to die.  You don’t expect to die at fourteen.  That should not be one of your worries in the world.

After school I had signed up to a teaching course run by the school which had been arranged to show us the benefits of taking the classroom outside.  I already take as many of my lessons outside as possible, which is often difficult as an ICT teacher, but I come up with some inventive ways to do so!  I find lessons in a different environment are much more memorable to the students and they are more likely to remember what they were taught much later on if the lesson is a little ‘out of the ordinary’.

I am very lucky to work in a beautiful school.  We have several ponds, a lake, an old Wendy house, a listed building and lots of woodland.  On the walk around the school site I discovered lots of new areas I had never seen before and all the teachers shared ideas about how to make lessons for different subjects involve the great outdoors.


In the evening I headed out on a trail run along the river with six others from club.  I was by far the slowest one there this time but we were still running at a 9:30ish pace including the gate climbing and rough terrain.  There was a dodgy moment where some horses were stood in our path, staring us down, but at the last second they scarpered to the side allowing us to run through them.  It was a lovely route and one I want to remember for another time.  It goes all the way from Northampton to Peterborough if you start from the beginning and follow it right the way through.  I’m not sure I’m quite that dedicated of a trail ultra-runner just yet, but maybe one day…in stages!  For now I’ll stick with the 5.64 miles we completed on Wednesday night!image

For some of the time out on the run I chatted to Alan, our club Member’s Secretary.  His wife passed away last week from cancer.  Alan himself is in his seventies and has been with the club since it began.  Our club Ladies Captain made the lovely suggestion of fifty-one (the number of years Alan and his wife had been together) club members running the Cransley Hospice half marathon in September and wearing ribbons to show our respect and support towards Alan.  Cransley Hospice had been where his wife was cared for.  Within hours, fifty one people had already signed up.  The list is now closer to 100 runners and it is likely that we will will go for either 102 or 153 runners for the event which is evidence of how fantastic and supportive our club really are!  There will also be a large number of us running the Great North Run on the same day wearing our ribbons with honour.

Breakfast: Blueberry wheats and strawberry crunch.
Lunch: A beautiful salad of red grapes, lettuce, green grapes, a tomato, yellow pepper, cheese and some green pesto.
Tea: I was tired after club and Dan wasn’t hungry so I threw myself in a chicken and mushroom pasta and sauce.


Exam writing for six kids


Last night was incredibly busy…it involved writing an exam for SIX kids.  Yes, just six kids in year 10 that are having mock exams next week.  The exams team told me I could use the paper that was posted to us for the January season earlier in the year, but then lost it and I cannot find a copy of it online.  Therefore last night I worked solidly from the moment I got home from school until 10pm writing a new paper.

I took two breaks.  One to photograph Dan feeding Bella her ‘Dreamies‘, something Dan picked up from the Co-op the other night and Bella goes crazy for!  The picture on the front of the packet is how my cat actually looks when Dreamies are involved!  What do they put in these things?!?!?!


And the other break was to have a few wedges Dan cooked on the side of his dinner.  I wasn’t hungry enough to sit down for a full meal.  That egg really did keep me going all day yesterday!  Having a late lunch probably also played a part in me not fancying dinner when I got home.


But I didn’t exercise yesterday either and the weather was so muggy.  It puts you off eating when it’s that hot.

I did get out for a run on Wednesday night with Maria from club.  She’s set the crazy task of running 2013 miles in the year 2013 so is out six days a week and desperate for company when she can get it!  She had planned 9 miles on Wednesday night, but we ended up stopping at 6.5 as she was really not feeling the run.  Isn’t it odd how some days you can happily run forever and others it’s incredibly difficult to get further than a mile without getting out of breath!

Today I’m out of school on a trip.  I have my camera so plan on taking loads of photos and having lots of fun.  I just hope I don’t lose any kids!  I did point out this morning though that my last school trip was to Africa where I took 20 year 11s and came back with every single one of them.  25 year 7-9s an hour up the road should be a doddle…right?!