Category Archives: PLN

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….

New place, making links

When I first came to live in Doraeti had a very difficult initial two months without family, with very little furniture. I had a job that fulfilled me but circumstances meant that when I wasn’t at work life was hard to cope with. I was reminded of this today after a comment on one of my posts by Mell.

I responded to her comment and offered a chance to meet Anne and myself after our art workshop in town. Indeed we did meet and were able to share some links, names that.  Might be helpful. Mell is blogging at Mell. See her posts, I hope that we can help her as others have helped us to settle into the community.

Reflections…ongoing

So it’s Sunday. Yesterday was a positive day. A week in which I lost two days to very deep lows both linked to seeking support from secondary care mental health services locally, seems ridiculous that applying for help causes more uncertainty in my self esteem. However, as a couple we have fought this battle many times with social services, post adoption support … We live in a country where needs often are not or can not be supported, but to access the services that are available you have to demonstrate great #stickability which of course is difficult if you are already struggling and also on your confidence in challenging systems or professionals in their own field.

So this reflection bit, based on my first five months in my new home county:

– I love Dorset and especially Purbeck. I now live in an area where countryside and coastlines are readily available and are so beautiful. My and family interests in leaving behind the suburban traffic noise we lived amongst previously are not missed.

– my job here did not work out, I did not fit into a particular close knit team, c’est la vie. I loved actually teaching the pupils, I would liked to have fitted into the team but it wasn’t to be and I made the wise decision to pull back straight away in the circumstances. 

– I have made new friends and acquantances already by talking to people I meet and especially through the companionship I have found in the Swanage Sea Rowing Club. I get to exercise three or more times a week, I am allowed to help coach junior rowers, so the teaching aspect is still there.

– at last we approach completion of the sale of our property in Essex which brought much stress and tension from July to October especially. This means we are financially stable and will be able to look forward and make choices without the burden of mortgages etc.

– my wife, Anne, very sensibly suggested that after 28 years without any career break I might take a work break and readjust. I have been revisiting as constantly felt I should be back working,  but having removed teaching which I have used to define myself for so long, there must be a break and I think today that I have actually accepted it.

– my mental health has dived lower for an extended period than ever previously but I am working at it. Anne is being very supportive as we work at our new life together. Next we apply for the local “Steps to Wellbeing” programme, we have found a very supportive GP practice in the Corfe Castle Surgery. I have joined the Swanage Depression Support Group who are a great group of people with whom I have a common demon. I am going to work to fight the suicidal thoughts and response to flee that went through my head especially in the period mid September to mid January, honesty is helping with that.

– I have had an alternative therapy approach to solving shoulder issues which has made me look at how my body works in a new way and it has been a positive experience.

– I was given lots of supports by some of the local artists especially Sue and Kate during the pop up beach hut season on Swanage seafront in the run up to Christmas. I have booked a table for April 1 – no, it’s not a joke for @AndyKnillArt to see if others want to buy some of my photography and / or art. This idea foundered for a while with the mental health dips but I hope to see it move forward this year at whatever pace I can cope with.

Рwe are renting for the first time and the property is fab. A dream to live in the countryside and see a range of wildlife every day,this gives a great sense of privilege. It brought its own lows at first when I was here on my own almost rattling around. Anyone know an easy foolproof way to earn a £one million so that we could stay here forever РI like it that much. I have dug out paths long hidden under overgrown rough grass,started to look at skills I can l learn locally so that I can restore features like the drystone walls. I was going to keep a record and will do this where I will map the property as we learn more about the fauna and flora that we live amongst.

– shared places, I mentioned that we love Purbeck – from National Trust properties at Corfe Castle and Studland  beach, Swanage bay and headlands at Ballard Point and Peveril Point. Durlston Castle and national nature reserve with its links to local heritage and quarrying. Country pubs like the Square and Compass and Scott Arms. Walks out onto Houns Tout,Swyre Head where we can look out over the Jurassic coast and the local diverse geology.

and so on and so on and …

I came off Twitter,five years of networking and around 8500 contacts. I am fine without it, I have read 
books again, I have joined the library, I try to be outside in the fresh air at least once every day. I stopped blogging but as you can see it is a reflective outlet, so it’s coming back like this post. Thanks for the feedback from new readers and for acquaintances from education and so on who are part of that Twitter legacy.

I still use FB but cleared 400 contacts out, a more select circle that will grow again slowly I am sure but with me in a far better place to use it and keep life in perspective.

I think I have rambled enough for this post, let’s keep seeing how 2017 goes, onwards…

Curious but happy being where I am, geographically …

It’s Friday, it’s the evening and in London’s Docklands I am aware that many friends and acquaintances will be / have been gathered for the TMBETT17 or similarly titled event, then on for a meal where there will be lots of animated talk….

Just a short greeting to the people who I have spent many hours chatting with online and at a variety of ed events. I am now away from that as no longer employed in education. In lucid happier moments I miss the camaraderie but not the stress.

Several of you said to me back in November, since my sudden departure and since,  how my experience would be valuable to others, but to be honest while generally more invisible online these last three weeks it is not an avenue that I will be able to explore for a long time if at all. Like the pupils I only met for 10 weeks and many more previously it’s the people I miss but at the moment I am not always comfortable around others.. 

My personal post classroom journey is ongoing and I seem to have decided this week to let my blogpost speak out once more. For GeoDebs I am still recording a daily GOB journal entry but not blogging it. If / when you leave teaching try to make it a controlled departure where you have control and a plan in place. Just jumping out is what I did but at some personal cost that I am still living through.

So why did I post? To say hi really, so hello to all of you who have visited BETT or will be attending tomorrow in your own time / own expense. If we have been in contact previously I hope work is going ok or better and if it isn’t make sure you have others to talk to, offload to etc. Make time for you and yours and look out for each other.

Andy / Mishmash / Raffle Guy ……

Stick your head up high and wait …

Enough … Is a post I wrote on http://Staffrm.io this weekend. As a parent, teacher and mental sufferer the three were thrown into hiatus with the political decisions about funding for disability payment reductions in the budget, declaration that all schools should become academies and the school day should also be longer. Both of these buy into my own anxieties as the parent of two adoptive sons with additional needs who I want to be able to support towards more independent adult lives. Also as a teacher I see my work/career subject to whims that are not well argued for and a cause of unnecessary. Hange for myself, colleagues but more importantly for successive cohorts of children who are used as Guinea pigs for politicians to tinker with.

So I wrote a post and I have then actively sought online support from many that I know / have met / follow to see if they would agree to share it further. The article will be promoted throughout the next week as we head up to the Easter break. This afternoon it has hit about 1500 views in a weekend an achievement I have never made with a post previously.

As an experienced teacher and parent I believe it was time to make a stand, what do you think?

#connect #exercise #learn #notice #volunteer in a day to end the year

Thursday / New Years Eve – a gentle day, not as a precursor to wild partying as I am far too boring for that, I will enjoy Hootenanny as usual. This afternoon a late walk was decided upon. Our first port of call at the local reserve at Hanningfield Reservoir was curtailed as another family told us (#connect) the centre had just closed. So back into the car, a plan B was rapidly formed and we set off for Galleywood Common on the southern side of Chelmsford. We have been there very few times previously – some puddle splash trips when the boys were about 2 (now approaching 18 and 20); some off-road biking, kite flying and walks. The common lies alongside our usual route into Chelmsford and includes open common, woods and a fenced off area that looks like a racecourse circuit for horses.

So we arrived and parked. Boots on we got out and started to walk (#exercise). We headed up through a wooded section and soon found ourselves an open grass area and a second car park we had never realised existed (#learn and #notice). The walk continued and we found details of how the “racecourse” should be used by horse riders a only the inside track marked by white topped posts and at no more than a trot. We discovered a pub, heritage centre and tea room, church and churchyard all of which we were completely unaware of before. We followed the outskirts of the common and returned to our starting point. What had looked like a fairly mundane walk had turned into a voyage of discovery (on a small scale). 

Once home my measly (#volunteer) bit was to relocate the green garden and food waste bin back where it belongs.

This all stems from the #teacher5aday movement that I have been involved in and an advocate of this last year. I haven’t posted a set of targets for 2016 as I believe they mesh easily with my targets under the last post for #Nurture1516.

I wish all who read my posts a happy and relaxed 2016 wherever possible.

Nurture1516

Last year I set 15 targets split in 5 sections – so I will review these first. I will decide as I post how targets will be set for this year. 

Dec 2015 review
1) Family: (3)
spend more time with parents – this has varied as own pressures impacted but speak to even more regularly especially as now both living in same residential home.

spend more time with both sons, whatever is happening in their lives- seen less of eldest as he has been accommodated in fewer places this year but finishes the year after six months of relative stability. Youngest at home, have done a few mote things together including some Forza sessions on xbox 360.

couple time – Anne and I to get back into our dining / evenings out more frequently- some dining but more day trips, break in Bristol and time for walks and nature. Support each other’s interests with choir and sketching.

2) Self: (3)
– I have a kayak and a bicycle which both need more of my company throughout the year and exploring far and wide – not used a lot,limited kayaking but some trips with Anne past Ulting church and met school D of E expeditions at Papermll Lock. 

– Cedric, the cello and subject of a recent post, and I are to make music more in 2015 and maybe even some guitar and the keyboard that is currently hidden in the loft-  failed

– screens are nice and I can access and share information, but 2015 is the year where I rediscover the pleasure of reading from books. I can start with my recent purchases from Tate Modern: London Villages and I’ve lived in London for 86 1/2 years by Martin Usborne- more successful including 10 books in summer with #teacher5adayread. I have also bought a read a variety of books on sketching from the urban sketching fraternity.

3) School / work: (3)

– I have two more terms leading to our first set of GCSE results under my management. Three sets are under my tutelage, so mocks in January, revise intervention groupings and work hard to a happy August results day – worked b***** hard throughout the year, results ok but not progress I had hoped for. Analysis interrupted by September breakdown. Best success girls results A* to C  up from 25 to 65%.

– continue to develop our revised KS3 curriculum and delegate sections to Adam and Michelle as we develop as a team – aha, well rewrote ks3 year one with more to develop, inclusion of John Muir Trust award successful. Adam lasted the year and a great loss. Michelle didn’t return for Spring term and in fact staffing throughout school year caused lots of stress. Started better this year with Gordon, but then own breakdown  upset the rhythm.

– more student voice and more hands on geography to make our department a “happening” place- considering staffing upheaval a good reputation generated overall in first year in post, tbc.

4) Twitter: (3)
– 2015 will see account no. 6 start with a departmental one so pupils can follow and share geographical ideas, sites …- didn’t start this as too much else to do.

– @knillsocks to continue especially as a bumper load of new socks hopefully being opened later today- account continues, remains novelty of teaching – the one with a Twitter account for …

– @globalsolo and @gasigict to continue to develop and facilitate discussion and collaboration globally- gave up @globalsolo in May and passed Twitter account to Pam Hook. Still using solo taxonomy including in own teaching but staffing crashed development in department. Shared ideas in school and at some events.

5) Blogging / presenting / … (3)

– have another successful year with GASIGICT, Promethean Advocates… – GASIGICT goes well and Twitter account from strength to strength. Presented at #GAConf15 on developing global network to small group. Ceased Promethean link as no time and no benefit to what I am developing.

– develop all of the linked blogs and Mishmashlearning to continue to have less #mentalhealthmatters – GASIGICT blog is paused, global solo gone, but now two mishmash – original and new sketching blog.

– present throughout the year – BETT, TMBexley, PedagooLondon3??, GA Conference, Northern Rocks, TMHavering2015?? TLT15??? ……- missed BETT and TLT15. TMBexley was good, also did a Medway event – interpretive dance and solo taxonomy intertwined – used this at NRocks15 with Andy Day for second year (this also featured jiving with KDWScience. GA Conference session – small attendance but seemed well received. GASIGICT stand display I did was popular. PedagooLondon was in July and presented this year on John Muir Award, also did this for PedagooHampshire in September plus an impromptu solo session when presenter no showed. Contributed photograph to #teacher5adayexhibition. Inspired (I am told) #teacher5adaysketch in October and took part in #teacher5adaype in September. So however busy school was still did some of own CPD. Also applied for FRGS – heard all ok and await paperwork. Fellowship of MirandaNet confirmed in January.

So a reasonable review – still did too much and it has had an Autumn consequence which I am recovering from. Also not mentioned here- finding all 50 of London Shaun the Sheep and 37 in Bristol. Family holidays in Cromer twice, Cardiganshire once. New hobby sketching started, 400 plus sketches to date in 6 months art supply shop geek now as yesterday’s Christmas money spend shows. Attended urban sketcher meets in London, Cambridge and Colchester. Rejoined a gym. Have lost 3-4 inches of waist fat.

2016 targets / priorities

I am sticking with five headings but more generalised and definitely not 16 targets.

So;

1) Family

Regular phone contact or via social media with all branches of the family.

Quality time – this links to work targets as I rephase back in. School work to not come home.

Trips out especially with Anne sharing our interests. Lots of London day trips.

2) Self

Keep exercising – bike and kayak where possible plus walking

Hobby time – play some music and sketch skills and practice inc. sketchcrawls

Read more often

3) school/work

Based on return to work aims:

– give work 50 hours of my time each week

– school work stays at school

– pace

– Inform others when stressed/ mood issues as agreed

– develop department

– Friday social time / staff sport to end the week

4) Twitter

– go with the flow, if tired less, use and stay in contact especially with friends

– GASIGICT – do not over commit time as discussed at meeting

5) Blogging / presenting/ …

-mishmash continues plus sketching posts in own blog too when feel like it

– presenting – less in Jan to July. TMEpping February to attend and listen only. GAConf16 workshop. See how year goes after Easter.

Key aspect is listen to my mind / body and work with them. That also includes friends too and reciprocal support.

 

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

Positive aspects of my weekend

As a postscript to my last post a moment ago I have taken part in bits of three edchats this weekend on Twitter. On Friday night at 11pm I could only stay awake for the first 10 minutes of #satchatoc. Then I awoke. Around 4 am and read back where I had dozed off,then joined in #INZpired where I was called dedicated – make that a semi somniac. Then this morning a brief visit as part of #aussieED.

Why three chats from the other side of the world?
1) they are at times I am not trying to work
2) the crowd involved are always welcoming
3) I feel at home and part of a community

The oddest feeling is seeing people list me with Australian teachers – did they not see my profile? This global chat is one of my greatest gains from using Twitter. The times for #satchatoc and #INZpired may not suit but #aussieED at 9.30 am on a Sunday is drawing in more UK educators most weeks. The issues for teachers are very similar the world over – open your mind to share a little further afield.

April 11 I get to share my enthusiasm in leading a workshop at The Geographical Association annual conference on Developing global networks, I look forward to who comes along to the session.