In December 2014 I presented at the SSAT Teachmeet and launched #teacher5aday. After experiencing a toxic work environment, I wanted to give something back to the profession I am so proud of being a part of. The temptation to use my newly created blog to write negatively was huge. To expose the wrong doings of a new breed of ‘educators’ who in my opinion ripped the heart out of a school and a community I had worked hard to be part of.
This article originally appeared in the August 2016 UKEd Magazine.
Twenty months later many things have changed. The results at my old school went down despite the new breed and their promises of a ‘better’ education. In fact, the new-broomers have been and gone. In contrast great local teachers left a school that they truly cared for. Some left the profession altogether. Thankfully some managed to move schools and, like me, work for a ‘rare breed’ of Head Teacher who spends his time looking after his staff. #Teacher5aday has also changed in many ways from its original inception.
On a rainy Thursday night in Manchester, just before Christmas 2014, the original idea I proposed was one of self-care bit.ly/uked16aug01. To look after your own well-being despite or maybe because of the environment you find yourself in. Based on the work of the New Economics Foundation (NEF) and their research on, “Five ways to well-being”, I invited teachers using twitter to #connect, #exercise, #learn, #notice and #volunteer. Inspired by Mark Healy @cijane02 I asked them to think about their well-being, using the five sub-titles, as the opposite side of the same coin of student well-being. To consider the possibility that spending some more time on themselves might improve their performance in school and consequently improve the outcomes of their students.
The power of twitter then took hold
I consider Twitter the best CPD I have taken part in over the last five years of my professional life. As Stephen Tierney @leadinglearner puts it, “Martini CPD”. It has also provided me with a fantastic opportunity to network with others as well as a tool to recruit new staff to our fantastic school (www.eggars.net if you are interested). In January of 2015 sixty-six teachers wrote and posted their pledges to improve their well-being using #teacher5aday as a framework. This was repeated by a different group of professionals in 2016 bit.ly/uked16aug02. Other tweachers, from February 2015, then started sharing their #teacher5aday based activity in 140 characters extolling the virtues of selfcare for very busy professionals.
In 2015 the ideas behind the hashtag developed in many ways. From an exhibition of the talents of teachers taking part in their 5- a-day activities, to many presentations at a variety of teachmeets, a personal invite to a bloggers breakfast and a #teacher5aday team slot to present at BETT. Each month there are now themes for teachers to share their non-school based adventures. A simple search on twitter will show how this community has developed. #21daysJuly is our most recent monthly theme expertly led by the amazing Bukky Yusuf @rondelle10_b.
2016 has continued in the same vain. Great professionals based in schools working with students on a day-to-day basis have continued to pledge their support as well as developing more #teacher5aday based monthly themes and ideas. The concept of the five areas for well-being has been translated into a school based activity and is taking shape in the form of #student5aday introduced at her school by Jenna Lucas @JennaLucas81. Invariably not everything has been positive in the world of well-being. The toxic environment I was exposed to unfortunately has become more of the norm than I had realised. I’ve listened to many teachers share their stories about how they have been treated in this ‘caring’ profession. Hopefully, there is now a network that isn’t confined to your immediate work place where support is available. In this free market economy of education some organisations, in my opinion, are trying to push their products to provide the solution to the recruitment, retention and workload issues. Beware the snake oil seller.
On reflection I’m very pleased that I decided to put my energies into something that helps teachers rather than on the negativity I experienced. To get involved simply follow the #teacher5aday hashtag on twitter. To meet some of #teacher5aday team face to face and to continue the conversations come along to #PedagooHampshire16 bit.ly/uked16aug03 a free CPD event for teachers by teachers. Perhaps happy teachers and happy students do equal improved results.
Martyn Reah is a geography teacher and deputy head who is ‘always looking for new ways to learn’.
He is the organiser of Pedagoo Hampshire. Find him on Twitter at @MartynReah and read his blog at martynreah.wordpress.com.