Category Archives: Wellbeing #Nurture1415 #Teacher5aday

#Pedagoohampshire17…after

I left teaching, I attended a teachmeet in Poole in February and I went to Pedagoohampshire today. So what is going on?

Well today was my third visit to an event that started in 2015. Teachers and others connected to education gather, chat, listen to talks, participate in workshop sessions, chat with new friends and old, go away and try to mplement some change based on their new learning. These events happen in people’s own personal (non work) time so that shows commitment too.

I had a great day.

I was told how much more relaxed I look. I looked ten years younger. My art is great. My experience had value as how often do you get to talk to people who have actually left… I sold some art, I designed and received a tshirt. I chatted.

I really enjoyed attending and my thanks go to many who were there today or in 2016 or 2015 and the many other events we have met at. At the end a friend said which event will I see you at next? And I had to admit I wasn’t planning to be at anymore to be honest as. Am now out of the profession. I then received invites to be at events again in the future including this one – we will see.

Finally thanks to Martyn Reah the driving force and host behind this great event.

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#Pedagoohampshire17 …before

Tomorrow morning I shall be up early and out to play with the A31, M27 and M3 On my way to Alton, Hampshire and Eggars School. I shall be attending Pedagoo… for my third year, I have previously attended as a teacher and presented about Solo Taxonomy, Mental Health and this time I will present as an ex teacher how you might look after your own Mental Health WellBeing so you don’t get to that same conclusion that I did, or maybe you shall.

Friends from teaching and various ed. conferences have called me brave – earlier I was feeling nervy and not brave at all. More so for taking my art as a stand than the mental health aspect that I have talked about before. 

I have a long term habit of sticking my head over the proverbial parapet I don’t have to anymore but I am still drawn to speak out. The good thing is I will be amongst many friends made over the last 5 years mainly.

I will blog how it goes and then provisionally at least draw my head down from the parapet and try to adjust to just being myself.

Perspectives …

I have just returned after spending three days visiting my father. We spent time, just the two of us. Sometimes we spoke, sometimes he slept and I sat, we had a drive out to view the local coast and we had lunch at a favourite ice cream parlour. The key thing is that since my mother died before Christmas last year his memory has been declining and also some other skills. This makes conversation difficult at times or at least confusing. 

Over the last few years both my parents health declined and my own mental health wasn’t doing too well either. Seeing my parents put life into perspective as I saw two active people lose that ability to freely move about and / or communicate. After my own breakdown last November I am still rebuilding and adjusting to a different life where I don’t have the full time commitment I had to teaching previously but I don’t always make the most of this and find myself a bit “at sea” with who I am.

I enjoy my time with Dad, yes there are conversations that make no sense. I have to think about volume and diction. Memories of past events emerge sometimes that I have not heard about before. I visit Thanet where I spent my secondary school years and have visited ever since – I see changes but places trigger memories too.

Why did I choose the title perspectives? I suppose because I have gone from someone who was frequently rushing about to one who has time to sit, listen and look. I express this in blog pieces, my artistic output and my self reflections. Slowing down time sometimes admits doubts about self worth and my purpose but I do now find myself challenging these or rolling with a mood because I know there is a brighter side ahead. This change is positive. Next Saturday I have offered a session at an education event on Mental Health wellbeing,  I guess from the perspective of one who has left the teaching profession – some friends have called me brave for doing it, maybe I don’t really know but I am aware that teachers under stress are not alone and if I can help someone use strategies to stay in work or make that big decision to step out then it’s been worth it. I miss teaching young people, not admin, pressures, constant referral to targets and data – I went into education to share learning with young people. Sometimes they are hard work but they were my reason and I miss them in that respect.

I am lucky I am able to sit back and take time out I just need to appreciate it more and stop setting myself targets or looking for evidence of achievements – as a friend once said ‘Can’t you just be?” – at last I have the time to be.

All in a day…

September 3rd, Sunday – so a possible busy day as it is a working shift day. I awake to 06:30 alarm and didn’t snooze it for a change as today I wanted to go for a paddle on the River Frome before work. Once I had showered breakfast was accompanied with the view of two young hares in the front garden / drive. In conversation with visitors to my stall at yesterday’s craft fair I still realise that for many people a sighting of hares is rare or they have never seen one. We however are blessed so I watch them grazing on the grass that waits for its next cut, then chasing each other in the drive and under one of the cars.

After loading the kayak / sit on top I set off for Wareham. On the way through Stoborough the traffic is brought to a halt by a black and white crossing – cows on the mooove not a zebra crossing. Onwards to unload and park the car up on the Quay, free until 10 am. Waterproof, hat and buoyancy aid and I launch from the public slipway on Abbott’s Quay. I head downstream today to see how close I will get to the mouth of the river – an area I have told customers about but never seen for myself. The river has far more moored boats than when I paddled this way in the winter. Steady paddling past a wide range of motor and sailing yachts sees me pass Redcliffe then Ridge slipways and yacht areas. Eventually I reach the widening and tidal markers at the mouth of the Frome. I watch some swans, take some photos as evidence – 9 o’clock and a 35 minute paddle. Returning is harder into the wind and tide. It takes 35 minutes to return as well and I am pleased to have beaten the time we advise customers in motor boats to take. measured later the return journey is about 4.6/.7 miles in 70 minutes.

I collect the keys for work and unlock / set up a mini fleet in case any customers brace the wet conditions. I do a fair bit of bailing water and then settle in the hut/ office. No customers are forthcoming so closed for 1pm, everything re secured and a drive home via Swanage where the sea is quite choppy in the breezy conditions.

A quiet afternoon reading books, social media messages and then blogging while watching wind blown rain outside.

I miss teaching …

https://staffrm.io/@andyknill/RTDb1qeDlp
I dreamt, I woke up sad, I know it’s a mini dip and I will do things today but I will feel flat. I shared this on Staffrm.io a teaching mini blog site that I joined a few years ago and I still contribute to occasionally.

To be honest as many of you know blogging posts are my steam escape valve, I vent in writing and it helps me. I have never been widely read like some in education but that’s fine, it is helpful to my #mentalhealth.

Mentally I could teach but not emotionally I would just be waiting for the first slip up and cave and I owe it to myself and all around me not to do that again. It’s taking time to let go but at the end of the day 28 years and 120 days is a long term habit to unpick.

Just saying…

I went out for a walk in time for sunrise on Tuesday morning and posted this on social media afterwards as it sums up how I feel about my change of direction.

I used to work for employers (schools). I still have one employer for my freelance part time job where there is structure and tasks that must be done but an opportunity to interact with customers. My main focus though is using my art to recuperate in periods of doubt, this week being one, and develop my work as an artist who sells.

I am changing how I work, no longer am I ruled by timetables, bells, deadlines set externally. My life doesn’t have a daily timetable – it varies and this still suits, in the future I may need to timetable in art time but I am enjoying the flexibility for now. I see friends and ex colleagues starting their six week holiday – I don’t have holidays, it’s not a dads statement just what it is. I have two set work days (even these can change) and then five days to use in a variety of ways. I still rush around too much at times. In six months I have created an art vehicle (AndyKnillArt.com) that has seen me publically try and see if people like my work enough to part with their hard earned money. It was a big risk for me personally especially at a time when my mental health is still on a rollercoaster, although less steep drops now. I have responded to the Interaction of visitors, and buyers. I have discovered that through theee commission based events that the ensuing stress levels this is not an area for me to work on at this time at least, but I have been trusted to do this three times already with both photography and art. I have tried new texhniques and media, attended art group, met a range of other local artists, some of whom I would happily call friends now. I have settled in 11 months into a new setting and got to know many new people – I am home now here in Purbeck and I live my surroundings even on the wet and windy days.

Shadows laid to rest

About seven and a half months ago a combination of circumstances including a decline in my mental health saw me leave my last full time role and the teaching profession frontline for the final time. My last visit to the school buildings was a surreptitious trip to collect my belongings at about 7 in the morning before staff were about to avoid meeting others except those supervising my visit.

Since then I have spoke with many of my ex pupils, some of their parents and some ex colleagues. The school premises however were an area I had no reason to return to, but had a shadow for me,

Today I ran a stand at the school’s Summer Festival. I was on the school grounds again but in plain sight. I found out about the event from friends involved in the school. I contacted my ex headteacher to see if he and staff would be ok with me being there, his reply was positive.

I did not take much financially, but got to raise awareness of my art work. The key for me was that the shadow of creeping back into school is now laid to rest. I found it very touching that after 35 weeks of the school year my 10 week stint was still significant for a number of pupils who have had several staff since. 

There will always be others who will not want to communicate, I respect this but today was another significant step for me. I continue to have nightmares where teaching situations go “wrong” and it is going to take a long time to finally let go of my teacher role after 28 years plus,  I hope it does come sooner rather than later.

Dear reader, have you had circumstances where you have laid a “shadow” to rest?

Purbeck Art Weeks (PAW) 2017

Well my biggest art adventure has started. On Friday May 26th I transformed a painted outbuilding shell into a working art studio. The dream of using our rustic outbuilding was achieved. So now I have a workspace to use. Admittedly if it is to be used in the winter it will need heating as it has the ambient temperature of a cave especially when the door is open six hours a day to welcome visitors in to my “open studio”.

I have artwork produced in the last four months (on Wed. 31st) in four exhibitions, I had a piece in one previous exhibition and I also have a range from greetings cards at £2 each to original pieces at £150 to offer. It has been a very productive time. I am now producing individual one off original hand drawn cards as well as my printed offerings also based on my art and photography.

My AndyKnillArt blog (https://andyknillart.wordpress.com) now features a weekly update but for the duration of PAW I am doing a daily blog to share how the experience is going.

If you are interested in any of the artwork please contact me on andy.knill@gmail.com, I am keen to widen my sales area which so far extends to Belgium and Qatar as well as Dorset.

Reflections . . .

This blog has had a more retrospective / reflective role in the last 8 months as a new beginning fell apart and an alternative new beginning started. Last night I sat and read through all the posts from August 2016 to April 2017. It was good to see how low I had become and I was able to see that even on #rollercoaster days where my mood varies that I am in a better place.

So, how is life now we are in May:

This weekend I do my 14th and 15th shifts at Wareham Boat Hire – I have now manned the business on my own a couple of times and successfully set up and packed away. I have had a go in all of the boats except the SUPs which have rarely been out so far. I have learnt routines, how the various types of equipment work. I have a better knowledge of Wareham and am able to help visitors with questions. I really enjoy my days by the river in our sun trap. I have been fortunate to have only had one shift rained out. Last week Anne , while visiting, asked how I would score the job out of 10 for how happy it made me feel – my answer 19 !! Yes it is that good. At the end of the day I go away relaxed with nothing extra to do. I have started to paddle my own SOT kayak too in Swanage and on the River Frome. I will do more of this as it helps me when guiding our clients.

My artwork – I enjoy it but the being commercial aspect has caused variations in my mood and self doubt to come thundering in. In the next 16 days as we head into Purbeck Art Weeks (PAW17) I will:

– collect exhibition piece one back from L’Artishe gallery in Swanage

– drop off pieces, exhibition sheets and labels at Etches fossil collection in Kimmeridge, Verges piece for RSPB Arne and Corfe Castle canvas, prints and cards at Rollington Barn for PAW HQ exhibition. I will also have pieces on show at Art Workshop in Swanage

– make my home Open Studio (22) ready to receive visitors with signs, a silk flag, old examples of work and new pieces developed through the 16 days of the art festival.

– I must just enjoy the experience of chatting about my work, mental health linked reasons for starting. A lot has happened since the end of January, yes all that time ago!!

So life has enough to keep me busy. In addition there are family linked tasks that take up attention to. If you are in Dorset over May 27 to June 11 please pop by between 10 and 4pm for art stuff and contact me about other times. We have some guests booked but others are welcome.

This week some things have knocked me off kilter but now over 130 days into my GOB diary keeping only 11 have ended as being below ok. I don’t always dismiss the negatives now and some of those dominate my thoughts but every day has positives of some sort and there is clearly another side to me apart from teacher and I have a future worth living. Those two aspects are huge compared to where I was mentally just a few months ago.

Alternatively there are also weekly news updates about the art work on AndyKnillArt blog.

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.