Tag Archives: community

Can you? Would you? …. Yes / No

These questions and similar became the bane of my life in the past. I had the tendency to say Yes when I should have said No. Our family social worker when adopting over 20 years ago used to say to Anne and I, “can’t you two just be?” and often the response would be no.

Why? We had plenty on our own plate with my career’s demands and the needs of the boys and … but often we found scraps of time to support others because by working as a team we could back each other up. Eventually it started to backfire and we started to say No more often, or attend meetings and sit on our hands so we couldn’t volunteer to do more.

So when my career crumbled back in 2016 – see previous posts from November plus 2016 and April 2019 – a change of status… the answer had to be a definitive NO.

Life has changed since.

From November 2016 I joined the Swanage Depression Support Groups and then helped when the Wareham Depression Support Group started. These two groups were part of me taking control of my depression and working to improve that aspect of my life and its impact on those around me. Eventually after about 18 months to 2 years I found hearing many similar stories over and over was not helping my recovery. I still attend when my life wobbles, we have hosted the May social for the last three years and now, particularly, my free time means that if a meeting’s cancellation becomes likely I am happy to stand in and help by facilitating the meeting be it in Swanage or Wareham. I did one of these back in May for Swanage and last night I ran the Wareham meeting. Groups like ours are not run by professionals but fellow sufferers who speak from experience, we support each other and we welcome others who need friends in their time of need. Last night reminded me yet again how special that link is.

Wednesday had been due to be a quiet and restful day only through a combination of circumstances I needed up attending a meeting in the afternoon and evening too. I actually came away refreshed mentally from both of them.

So what did I do in the afternoon? The first working group meeting for Artisans on the Beach 2019. Yes meeting in June to discuss the beach hut arts and crafts event for December. An event which exists to encourage locals to develop with their hobbies.

In 2016 I sat on the seafront with new friends very fresh from my November breakdown and leaving teaching, I drew a piece of the Swanage Beach Huts – my first piece to sell in 2017. In 2017 I took part, I was almost hyper at times, energetic, enthusiastic, drawing out in the fresh air, wearing outfits that caught people’s eye and I ended the event as ‘Artisan of the Year’. In 2018 I had become one of the two Artisans on the working group and we added some changes and structures to the event which continues to grow by reputation for participants and visitors.

In 2019 that role continues – my art hobby has become “AndyKnillArt”, I do two main events a year with PAW (Purbeck Art Weeks) and Artisans on the Beach, I also exhibit and sell my work year round as a member of the Purbeck Artisan Yard, it will never be a full time job, nor will it stop me pursuing other ideas but it is a channel through which I share my creativity and I love it.


I attended two meetings …. I said yes. Does that mean I now say yes to every opportunity / query? No, I don’t. I need my free space to explore, relax, enjoy. I have earnt that right after 28 years teaching, after 20+ years of parenting and seeing both our sons live elsewhere.

Moving forwards

I am investigating more ways to use my motto “ArtForFun” where I host activities for any age to do some art for the joy of it, no judgement, mindfulness, relaxation, … whatever suits. This is also not going to turn into a ‘crusade’ that sucks me into overcommitting myself timewise and emotionally. I will do it from time to time, e.g. every time I do a duty at the artisan yard I post on the AndyKnillArt Facebook page so that passersby can drop in and have a go. When I do events like PAW and Artisans on…. then I can offer it again. I don’t want it formalised into an activity which engages all those officialdom forms and risk assessments and … been there, done that, thrown away the uniform. As the ‘tag’ suggests it is about “fun”.

Many years ago after working in outdoor pursuits prior to my pgce (teacher training) I adopted the motto “Life is not a rehearsal”, I now have time to enjoy my life, I live in a location where I can enjoy my life, I have Anne whom I enjoy life with. So sometimes I will answer yes to queries. Often I will say no because I need my enjoy life space now.

For you

Are you a yes, a no, a mixture? Volunteering makes our society work. It is the glue that supports communities. Please consider saying yes occasionally, but at a scale that you can cope with.

Thanks for reading


Teachers encouraging each other #teacher5adaysketch

  This year one wellbeing initiative that has drawn in a number of #tweachers (teachers on Twitter) is #teacher5aday. The initiative led by Martyn Reah has helped to encourage conversations about wellbeing and taking time away from work. There have been #cook, #read over the summer holiday, #PE in October – so still going and now for half term homework there is #sketch. Also we have seen an exhibition that has been displayed at the Haslemere museum, Institute of Education and PedagooHampshire.

Are you looking for a community to link with? Other teachers to talk about subjects other than teaching? I admit #cook didn’t see me participate but I have taken in all other aspects. Currently #sketch is apparently linked to me sharing the sketching I have been doing as a break and recently as a recovery strategy from my recent breakdown.

Take part, have fun, that’s what it’s all about.


What did you do at the weekend?

Well… Do you get asked that question and / or ask it often on a Monday?

I am having the privilege of spending my weekend taking part in a face 2 face weekend with fellow teachers who work alongside Promethean either as teacher advocates or European iTec project. The chance to meet with fellow teachers who work in early years, primary, secondary and Higher Education from England, Scotland, Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland and Spain is such a great experience.

I cannot tell more as much of our time together is subject to NDAs. But thanks to Anne for supporting me in having this time out to be geeky and using a range of gadgets.

Thanks to Promethean for the the role.

Thank you

In the last 24 hours I wrote two posts about a dip that started yesterday afternoon and was still affecting me deeply this morning. One of my ways of fighting such dips is to post about my mood. For many with Mental Heath issues (there I said it) that is not practicable, for me it stops the process of letting the metaphorical grip go (English teachers if that’s wrong I apologise).

Am I in the same state 24 hours later? No and one of the main reasons for that is that while my family slept it was online colleagues and friends who reached out and offered support. That support is highly valued and its something that I try to do as well when my friends dip as many of us are prone to from time to time.

Consider when colleagues are distracted, downcast that they may find it difficult to admit how they’re doing – just keep an eye and ear open, be there in case it is helpful.

Thank you to my supportive network who have been there for me today.

Why would you go on “blah blah”?

Me aka Mr Twitter or “blah blah” at school. Why do I invest so much time in developing my online contacts in Twitter? This post will be probably only be read by the converted – so be it. Over the last few weeks I have witnessed, participated in and read about many cases of educators supporting each other through Twitter.

Two weeks ago I presented on the use of Twitter to the Promethean Advocates group at our face to face meeting. The group represented technology confident individuals but few had spent much time with Twitter as a medium. The last two weeks and follow up contact has been great and I look forward to that continuing and developing.

Last week I was sharing ideas with a fellow Tweep Daniel Harvey in Birmingham (area) who I had shared ideas with as #TMBrum and #TMEssex were developing for both of us. He suggested a phone chat – what a great idea and it was good to make contact at last.

This post started as a ramble about why Twitter’s important to me – it has meandered but essentially I’d like to say #ff to all those who interact with me on Twitter you give me ideas, support, frequently inspire me and help at lower times.

Good health to all who sail on the good ship Twitter.

How do we reach the non-online teaching community?

This blog will be read by people who have an active online life. We tweet, we blog,we share and discuss ideas,we share resources – ideal. However, many of us will work with colleagues who do not understand / comprehend our desire to go online.

At #TMPlay the dilemma of reaching out to offline colleagues was raised. Time and cost can often exited as factors,so how do we share our enthusiasm? I’m known as a geek at school and for many that makes my online interest off limits and they are wary.

Teaching is about lifelong learning and geek or whatever label others will place at our door we have a duty to try and lower the barriers to show others why we are so enthusiastic.

Comments encouraged,welcomed, sought……. What do you think?

A blue sky moment …..