Category Archives: about

Wow, didn’t know about this….

Checked twitter feed last night to find this picture sent to me.


So after some tweeting, linkedin messages later, this morning I have a copy of what was said about me.


Yes turn your screen or head but don’t crick neck. I have thanked my likely nominators and am now going for afternoon / evening trip to be at #gaconf17 #teachmeet and #beermeet although I will be on soft drinks to drive back tonight as working in the morning.

Very honoured to have my contribution recognised like this. 

Meanwhile….

Part time job for Wareham Boat Hire means I spend lots of time splashing about in a river moving boats and talking to a wide range of customers. 

Artwork is going steadily in build up to Purbeck Art Weeks – see http://AndyKnillArt.wordpress.com for separate art blog. 

Mental health generally good – now been keeping GOB diary for 110 days and 102 are positive.

Life is much more relaxed, frequently fun and quirkiness encouraged.

How far can one’s life change?

On 24 August 2016 I moved to the Isle of Purbeck in Dorset. My aim to start a new teaching job, live in a dream property in a fantastic part of the country. To rediscover more time to spend with the family, to get outdoors and to regain more stability in my mental health.

About 7.5 months on plans have changed but my life has changed so much and for the better too. If you regularly read my posts this will repeat some points from previous posts.

I moved to live alone while issues to do with our family home in Essex were resolved. I was in a beautiful house, surrounded by countryside but only 15 minutes from work. The weather was generally good to start with. The job offered much. However, it didn’t work for me on many levels and it didn’t help my mental health at all.

Living alone was a shock after so long – 25 years. Lack of communication with no landline, mobile signal, or broadband was a big upheaval for someone who spent so much time networking and communicating with others online. I developed work resources using online contacts and sites previously. Now I was forced to go cold turkey and I didn’t cope well with it. I would joke when ringing friends and family from nearby country lanes where I could walk to get a signal that all was ok. I genuinely didn’t miss tv and now still only watch a few programmes, often recorded first. The contact gap with familiar voices however was much harder.

Work, well there was a lot of change and the above aspects that were already impacting on my mental health were exacerbated by my limitations in not being able to do much work from home, something I had relied on previously. I admitted some of this but not the true nature of my thoughts as I feared being removed from the post. The only harm I would have done would have been to myself but my moods were on a much steeper rollercoaster than previously and the dips were frightingly threatening to my own mental stability. I also hid this from home, a mistake but I loved the area and knew the house had potential for the family. Unfortunately I got to the point, linked to previous experiences, where what I saw as criticism became a stick to beat myself with emotionally and a path to recovery got to the point where it was no longer an option. I had to make the job work or teaching and I would separate at last, that scared me as I did not perceive that I existed beyond my label as teacher. Well in November after the family had been here a fortnight the job crumbled – I did and I lost teaching as part of my life. I still have bad dreams,sometimes even nightmares about educational settings normally a jumble of places I have worked. It will take a long time to let go fully as 28 years and a term took a lot from me.

So what has changed?

I live in a beautiful house with three other family members – my wife, younger son and mother in law. Everyone has now settled in and we are starting with the better weather and lighter days and evenings to get outside and work on the garden more. The house has the services (still no mobile signal) that It lacked when I moved here. We have grown into it.  I would say we are all happier generally for the experience and look forward to seeing more how the area changes through the seasons.

Work – I am now working as an artist, I endeavour to sell some of my work, I have a Facebook page, an art blog. I have signed up for classes, craft fairs and the local arts weeks later on. I have met many very generous local artists and crafters who are willing to share experiences and advice on resources and services. Also I have a part time job that involves being in and out of water in the River Frome at Wareham, I love that aspect. Work is not stressful as before. I still be the chance to use my teaching skills when helping coach juniors at the Swanage Sea Rowing club.

Anne,  my wife and I have spent more time together since she moved down five months ago than we probably have throughout our marriage of 24 years as I am not working 60 hour weeks, lots of my work is done from home. It has helped our relationship which is now in a better place. I know Vi my mother in law much better and at 95 she continues to be an inspiration in her vitality. My son Charlie and I have had more time to go and do things together which I hope isn’t too much of a bi d for him, I enjoy it.

Fitness – I was told I could join one club when I moved here, the fact that at a few points  I have been there six days a week didn’t impress but it has brought me a much fitter health. I have made many new friends and I love that training has now moved back o to the sea after a winter on the ergos in the rowing hall.

Mental health – thank you to my new GPs at the Corfe Castle surgery who have been very supportive, alongside the great Swanage Depression Support Group whose company I enjoy bi-weekly. Being able to shed and share has helped a great deal and they have commented on how much I have changed from my start in November. New acquaintances have even been surprised that I have a mental health issue as I do t present that way currently.

In the last week I have reflected that I have made more friends here than in the last 27 years. I am happy. I love my surroundings. I continue to learn new skills and things most days. Life has a future, I don’t know completely how it will be but there will be ways that don’t involve creating extra stresses.

If you get this far please comment or say hi on social media, in the street….

A chance to talk

I watched the news this week when a piece came up about a closed group on Facebook for men with infertility issues to talk to each other.it was a clear video report and I went away to investigate further.

I have admitted to a  number of things about myself through this blog over its time. It truly is a mishmash into the ongoing process of life and learning about new things and about myself.

Yes I am infertile. There it’s said. A dark secret held onto for many years that has tortured me for various reasons that I have probably created more myself but like Mental Health a secret held onto for many years.

I now have a forum where I can talk openly. I am not sharing those conversations here but it is another valve / release for negativity that has helped my mood lift this week. Not because infertility has been a relevant issue for me for a long time but because it is a skeleton ejected from the cupboard of my mind.

I have been lucky in meeting friends able to talk about their mental health openly and we look out for each other.

Do you have skeletons in your cupboard that you would like to set free?

764 posts

19126 days old, some numbers discovered in the last 24 hours from reading others posts, follow up research and curiousity.

Never a blogger who expects to attack mega readership like several that I have met in education. In many ways my posts are more reflective and for me if others like them that’s good.

I have increasingly posted on Staffrm.io now on 143 posts.
Why do you blog?

#teacher5aday….a reflection after two terms | Mishmashlearning goes blogging https ://mishmashlearning.wordpress.com/2014/12/26/teacher5aday-a-reflection-after-two-terms/

See review after two terms

https://mishmashlearning.wordpress.com/2014/12/26/teacher5aday-a-reflection-after-two-terms/

Hexagon peg – square hole

What a week… A Teachmeet presentation in Medway, Kent extolling the virtues of solo taxonomy and interpretive dance and Ronseal(c) references to teach physical processes in geography – a chance to be passionate about teaching and liked for it. A meeting where I feel steam rollered about what my job title actually means. An email to say that I felt steam rollered. A follow up meeting where compromises are made. A sports day where therapy is raking the sand pit after each jump for long and triple jump. A drink or two (non alcoholic) with comments about how I come across as a passionate educator.

Overall, lots of positives, the lessons outside, the entries coming in for the art, photography and originality in presentation competitions within the department (yes we teach geography, but creativity is king), lots to savour, lots to smile about.

But at the end of the week the overwhelming feeling that I do not fit. How can being passionate about my job, role, subject, vocation feel that I am in the wrong?

I am fighting letting go and sloughing (? Should that be slowing ?) in to despond. I do not want to fall, slide, fall off. I can not be around my family easily I am a miserable, snappy sod this morning. I want to fight back.

Is it time I leave teaching! I can not believe that question is in my head after Tuesday’s Teachmeet but there it is it is out in the open. Am I the obstacle?

Thoughts – mishmashlearning consultant, time out, travel, tutor, work in education a different way. I want to teach. I love to teach, I am a teacher, I am a geographer but also a cross curricular advocate.

If you are a regular reader; comment – don’t leave this post hanging. And be honest…thanks

#Teacher5aday 26/1/15 review

Well, firstly let me admit I took this as a whole year challenge, so I hadn’t read initial post well enough. I am not just having resolutions about well being for a month.

So three weeks of term in, I have just reread my original post and I am very happy with my commitment to the points set out. The only real gap is the bicycle getting out but I have not had the energy for that, I am however going for a walk once or twice a weekend. Sometimes we identify birds now without the bird book – progress Indeed and magical moments like seeing herons at Hyde Park on Friday morning.

One of my new #connect moments is Sunday mornings, having a slow start and brekky with #aussueED. This week I produced question posts and received a new qualification.

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I have learnt so much this month from colleagues, friends, family and feel that I have consciously taken time for me on a more regular basis knowing that I have also worked extremely hard too.

This picture is one that I took at about 08.45 in Hyde Park before a geographical course – a fab walk from tube station to venue.

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2014 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 6,000 times in 2014. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 5 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

Second week of the Christmas break

The initial rush and excitement of Christmas is over, the reflective posts for #Nurture1415 and now #Teacher5aday have been written. I have read others reflective posts, I am tweeting as more big stories that we can reflect on in geography appear, unfortunately many of them tragic for others.

Exercise – I have been outside for walks, unfortunately the freezing nights and mornings limit me as I am careful not to trigger a wheeze on an already congested chest. Family time including sky+ catchups. It would be fair to reflect that I am relaxed.

Marking – yes I know two weeks off. I have some outstanding marking from last term in the form of projects / assessments so got that started this morning and made some good progress. I will need to do this all week to complete the backlog and also plan units for the next half term but I feel in a positive place, which is good.

Globalsolo marks it’s first anniversary on New Year’s Eve – in the eve itself and with 1700+ followers it has far exceeded my hopes from a year ago. Much more could / can be done, it’s just fitting it in around everything else, hence it can never be my first priority. The Gasigict twitter account rumbles on more as a newsfeed that introduces others to web based sources and apps from time to time. 7 months in by the end of the week, it is also exceeding expectations and will provide a sound back story to a workshop at conference in April 2015.

Why am I blogging this? I suppose self reflection to be honest – my thought outlet. If it is of interest, good. If not I quite understand.

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#teacher5aday….a reflection after two terms

Martyn Reah has led on this way of teachers reflecting and trying to strike a better work- life balance. He has now prompted a second term review…

The 5 headings are:
#connect, #exercise, #notice, #learn, #volunteer

I may apply my own interpretations but I am sure that is ok as it’s my reflections after all and I am never good at the balance idea as colleagues and family can confirm.

So,

#connect

In 2014 especially I have developed the way I connect in several ways. From the drinks after work on a Friday which is far more frequent at my new school, even if my consumption of diet coke / pepsi bemuses others. I now enjoy more real time conversations with people in person rather than hiding behind my online personas.- the first school year in post is now done and I kept the social aspect going. The school prom showed another side of my character as I made the dance floor my home.

I continue to connect online and in 2014 have started two networks which have a global collection of followers as intended. I like that anytime of day or night (semi-somnia) there are people out there that I can chat with and / or share sources and information. – I have spent increasingly less time awake and on Twitter mid nighttime. Less networking but better sleep at times. The first network – @globalsolo has been passed onto Pam Hook (@arti_choke) as I did not have sufficient energy or time with the demands of my new department.

For 2015, that global aspect of communication will be a focus as I present an Easter workshop on Developing Global Networks. There is prep work with friends from as many other countries as I can as I want people who attend to go away with faces to contact and chat to, I will just take away some of the initial making contact phase as I have done it already. – the workshop although attended by only a few went well and I have used Global networking through handholding audience members now at two Teachmeets – GA conference and Dagenham – sharing jewels (or similar).

#exercise

I love exercise, it does my mood all sorts of good and … It loses out to a mismatched balance often. My kayak has not left the back garden since September – floods withstanding I want to be taking it out at least once per month before the Easter break holiday which will see it travelling to Norfolk atop the family car. My 50th in 2014 saw me buy a new bike, a lighter cyclocross steed. It saw a lot of service pre September, again it has stayed dry in the shed. It got out for 16km on the 22/12 and I want to go out again during the break. Again I hope to be using it more in 2015 on and off-road so that I can build back up to rides like my 25 mile circuit that takes in all three of the Country Parks around Brentwood and country lanes twixt there and home. – exercise has not made the recovery I hoped for yet. Kayaking has only happened twice – both times greeting school groups on practice Bronze D of E trips. The bike has now started to come out. I have managed up to a 19 mile ride, but still needs to be far more.

There will be walks including the local nature reserve at Hanningfield reservoir with our Christmas binoculars so now we can say that bird over there is… As long as we remember to take the bird book too. – local walks in nature reserves has been a great success with some sort of walk most weekends this year unless away. The binoculars have been used increasingly.

#notice

I posted at the end of term about the eternal question…do I ever stop thinking about geography? No, I don’t as I am #alwaysageographer. So in terms of noticing, my eyes are always seeking new ideas, patterns, changes around me. Many find their way into my teaching – I believe in modelling being observant – I continue to take photos and now have started sketching too inspired by my friend Lucie..

I also need to continue to notice the members of my family and friends and be there to support them in any way I can. This has worked so well through the use of #BDAmigos, #mentalhealthmatters and my involvement in the Mindshackles project. I look forward to visiting the BETT show at the end of January and attending my friend Ian’s session on Wellbeing as we have been there for each other which I think we have both found reassuring. – family support has varied depending on energy levels but there have been several posts about this during 2015. My mental health has had a much stronger year, yes there have been dips, even to the point of thinking about ending it all but I have never even attempted this and we go on. Ian’s session at BETT was a privilege to attend and see a fellow #BDAmigo moving forwards. I have also been Shaun the sheep hunting with a range of  amigos – great to meet and chat. I must try and catch up with Iesha and Mindshackles over the summer.

#learn

The hardest thing for me to do is to sit still and do “nothing”, and I need to work on this more. I have used mindfulness apps to help me with this, so strictly I am doing something. But timeout is something my brain, emotions and body can do with from time to time.

I will be busy and I will continue to learn something most, if not every, day(s) and I enjoy this. I remember spending several years when my sone were in KS1 how they would not accept that teachers did NOT know all the answers. I will continue to advocate the importance and value of lifelong learning. – the advocacy re lifelong learning continues. I am hoping that now I am in the summer holidays I will slow down, I have started well this morning, even if maybe I should have tried to go back to sleep when I awoke at 05:41 hrs.

#volunteer

I used to volunteer in the usual sense when our children were very young. I had the privilege to be a #Sam for a couple of years. Now I do lots of things for others, whether that is volunteering an opinion, lending a hand I work situations that go far beyond the requirements of the job.

My two volunteer foci for 2015 will continue to be the tweeter running @globalsolo and @gasigict accounts. I started both in the lat 12 months and I enjoy the role of facilitator. I have moments of doubt when I start comparing myself with others using the links, but then manage to remind myself I set myself up as the facilitator as I find making links enjoyable and to be frank I am good at it (self affirmation – how much I have moved on from my BD low moments). If others ripen with ideas and produce something beyond my skills I just need to sit back and think, I helped and that is plenty to be proud of. I continue to meet people just starting out with Solo Taxonomy – I feel I can help them get started. The geographical links that the gasigict account is making fills me with hope and helps me with my friends truly spread all over the world. I may not always be able to understand the language of the tweets, but infographics and images provide resources I can use to spread the boundaries and awareness of other learners. – well this year has seen me give up @globalsolo network and my role as a Promethean advocate – things had to give with work demands. However, interest in and involvement in the John Muir Trust award has taken my department to Provider status, an Explorer award for myself and a set of science teachers and technicians happy to have a new ally in increasing the biodiversity of our school grounds. I was lucky to share this project with others at the July #PedagooLondon. That weekend also saw one of my photos from mooching around Brick Lane / Spitalfields be exhibited in both of he #teacher5aday exhibitions. I also wrote up about my online global networking and became a Fellow of MirandaNet. Applications for FRGS and CGeog await summer break attention.

In conclusion after two terms, I have not reached all my targets but that’s ok, I have become reflective and made sure I take time out every weekend. When I have come home exhausted I have recognise that and rested.

Thanks for the idea. Martyn, I will review how things are before the September return to school.

All feedback welcomed.