I’ve Moved My Blog!!

August 12, 2012

Hi Readers,

I have moved my blog to my new website


I hope you will join me over there – looking forward to seeing you!!



3 More Easy to Implement Strategies to Rekindle Your Teaching Passion

July 5, 2012

Part Two: Are you Tired of Teaching or Just Plain Tired?

In part two of this post I am going to offer three more simple, but powerful strategies that you can use to take a step back and recover your passion and enthusiasm for your chosen career. You owe it to your students to be the best that you can be and these ideas will help you to do just that.

1. Be Grateful

Consciously being grateful for what is happening in our life (both personal and professional) can make us feel really good. It leads to a postive outlook, and the more we notice little things that we can be grateful for the more we seem to find!

Create a gratitude journal or make ‘grateful’ notes in your weekly planner. Try to find at least three things to be grateful for each day. Start with obvious ideas such as …

“I’m grateful I have a job”

“I am grateful that the sun is shining today”

“I am grateful for this fresh apple I have for lunch”.

Once you get used to noticing the little things in your life, you will start to be more conscious of the larger things you can be grateful for…

“I’m grateful that I get the opportunity to make a real difference in this child’s life”

“I am grateful that my job allows me to be creative”

“I am grateful that I have the capacity to be a lifelong learner as well as a teacher”

2. Be Planned and Organised

Being planned and organized can help you feel in control and less stressed so that you can enjoy your day rather than rushing from one thing to the next and thinking on the run. Giving yourself time to be prepared is a huge stress reducer. What could you do today to prepare for tomorrow?

  • Could you prepare your lunch tonight and leave your packed bag by the door so that you are ready for school in the morning without rushing?
  • Could you get the resources you need for tomorrow’s lessons set out today?
  • Could you do that photocopying, or ring that parent so that you can go home tonight knowing that you have ticked off some things on your to-do list?

It is important to remember to plan time for the things you love to do as well. Living a full, rounded life makes us better teachers. Make a list of things you like doing in your own time – going to the movies, sitting in the park, a walk along the beach, coffee with a friend. Plan time to actually do one of these things – make a date with yourself and write it in your diary or planner. Writing something down is incredibly powerful and you will be much more likely to actually do it.

Give yourself a break – choose a day after school when you can leave a bit earlier than usual, (when you have no meetings and your planning and preparation are done). Don’t take any school work home on this day. We often get into the habit of taking home things we think we should do, plonking the bag or box on the floor at home and then taking it back to school the next day without actually doing the work. When we do this we now carry back to school all the guilt as well, because we didn’t do what we told ourselves we should.

On this special day for you leave everything at school, it will still be there tomorrow!

3. Clear the Clutter

Classrooms are often full of clutter and ‘things we might need one day’. Having a tidy room can be very liberating and energising. Sitting at a tidy desk, or looking at a recently sorted bookshelf, or opening an organised cupboard can give you a real lift, especially if you have been living in a mess.

Take small steps, and create a plan. First make a master list of everything you would like to tidy or organise – be really specific such as sort out the art cupboard, tidy the bookshelves by my desk, reorganise the maths equipment and so on. Then choose one thing to do on the list each week. Take it slowly, don’t try to do a huge cleanup – you will just create more mess and burn yourself out.

Throw out everything that doesn’t work, is broken, or that you haven’t used for a couple of years – be quite ruthless. The point is to make space, you can not organise clutter. Ask your students to help you. Share your plan and make it a team effort. Everybody will reap the rewards of a clear, calm workspace.

Remember…feel good, get results, make a difference.

3 Easy to Implement Strategies to Rekindle Your Teaching Passion

July 4, 2012

Part One: Are you Tired of Teaching

or Just Plain Tired?

Do you sometimes feel overwhelmed with all the paperwork and other issues that seem to take you away from what you actually love to do – teaching?

Do you find it hard to remember the excitement you felt when you had just finished your teacher training and were about to teach your first class?

 Over the next couple of days I am going outline some simple, but powerful strategies that you can use to take a step back and recover your passion and enthusiasm for your chosen career. You owe it to your students to be the best that you can be and these ideas will help you to do just that.

1. Take Your Time

Spend some real time with your students. This strategy may sound silly when you are with them all the time, but really be present and stop rushing. Sit down and eat lunch with your students, or sit with them one on one and talk to them about their families, what they want to be when they grow up, their favourite TV programmes – find out things you didn’t know before. Don’t rush this – be slow and thoughtful and listen carefully to what they are saying to you, watch their body language, their facial expressions, listen to the tone of their voice and the words they use. If you like writing, keep some notes about what they have told you. Your students will appreciate the time you spend with them, especially if they are used to you always being busy.

2. Be Mindful

Be mindful. Notice the little things that happen in the classroom day to day, the opportunities that could be captured instead of rushed by and missed. Set the class an enjoyable, quiet activity that they can do independently, but isn’t just busy work. Something meaningful like creating a portrait of their friend. Encourage the students to be mindful too and look at all the tiny details of their friend’s face, such as their eyelashes. Then just sit back and let them draw. Sit quietly and observe, marvel at their creativity. Appreciate their interactions with each other and how they are all amazing people in their own right.

3. Spread Good News

Spread good news. Spend time with people who inspire you, not drag you down. Avoid people who whinge and moan. Tell ‘good news stories’ about things your students have said and done in your class rather than moan about all the things that are going wrong. Start staffroom conversations by asking ‘What went well for you this morning?’. Randomly phone parents and tell them nice things about their kids or send notes home about good things the kids did that day.

I hope you find these strategies useful. In the next post I share another 3 strategies that will keep you motivated and inspired. Remember…feel good, get results, make a difference.

Movie Motivation – 5 Great Movies To Help You Get Your Teaching Mojo Back!

July 2, 2012

Sometimes we can get disillusioned with teaching and lose motivation.

We ask…

Am I making a difference to my students?
Am I a good teacher?
Where has my passion gone?

When I feel like this one of the best ways I can quickly get my enthusiasm back is to watch an inspirational move. There are some great teaching movies out there. Some are a bit cheesy, but they can still be uplifting and inspirational. Here are five of my favourites. Please add to my list with your own personal favourites.

  1. Dangerous Minds – an all time classic! Michelle Pfeiffer struggling to teach in a tough school and overcoming the odds. Awesome soundtrack too!
  2. Mona Lisa Smile – Julia Roberts as a teacher who encourages her students to defy stereotypes and push through boundaries.
  3. Freedom Writers – Hilary Swank finding it hard as a first year teacher, but determined to keep going until she finds the key to reach her students.
  4. School of Rock – Jack Black is hilarious, but this movie is also really moving as he finds a way to make every kid a star.
  5. Educating Rita – 80’s movie starring Julie Walters, proving that you are never too old to learn, and that sometimes the student is also the teacher!

I could go on and make this list to 20, but that will be another post.

Please add your favourites below, and let’s get inspired again about the wonderful profession we are in.

The Blog Challenge Begins!

July 1, 2012

Welcome to my new blog! My name is Carolyn Aukafolau and I am taking part in the Ultimate Blog Challenge for July 2012.

A bit about me… I am a Deputy Principal in a primary school in Auckland, New Zealand. I also have my own business coaching teachers and other education professionals. My passion is ensuring teachers look after themselves so that they are in the best possible position to give themselves 100% to their students and their career. I know how physically and mentally tiring teaching can be, I also know the joy that teaching brings and what a satisfying and exciting career it is. This blog will be about strategies, suggestions, case studies, discussion and sharing expertise around teacher well being, and ensuring that our best and brightest teachers stay in the profession.

I am in the process of setting up a website for my business, but it seems to be taking a long time and I keep getting stuck. So in order to make sure I hit the ground running on July 1st I have set up a new blog in WordPress.com and I am committing to publishing a new post every day for 31 days. My main reason for doing this is to get me out of my stickiness and moving forward!! I intend to just transfer the blog posts over to my website when it is finally up and running.

I feel great to be doing something proactive, and I am excited about challenging myself to push through my concerns that I may not be able to post every day. Michelle and Michele’s advice, newsletters and webinars have been invaluable and have given me a lot of confidence to just get started.

Ok – now I’m off to put the finishing touches to this new blog. I tend to be a bit of a perfectionist (probably why the website is taking so long) so I am going to keep reading the signs I have made myself and stuck on the wall “DONE IS BETTER THAN PERFECT” and Michele and Michelle’s advice “FOCUS ON ONE DAY AND ONE POST AT A TIME  – YOU CAN DO THIS!”

See you all tomorrow xx

STOP! The rewards are worth it.

July 1, 2012

Taking a few minutes out of our busy school day to just stop and be still can be hugely beneficial. Yet stopping feels counter-intuitive when we are rushing around – teaching, preparing for the next class during our break time, playground duty, catching up with parents, meetings after school and so on. It can be hard to find time for a quick coffee, let alone actually stop for a minute!

However, when we get into the habit of stopping for a few deep breaths, we can actually become more efficient, more focused and more energised. The hard part is remembering to stop. (I have listed some suggestions on how to be more mindful at the bottom of this post).

As I sat down to write today my cat clambered onto me. Today she couldn’t fit on my knees because my laptop was there, so she climbed onto my chest and rested her chin on my shoulder. I continued to type, trying to peer at the screen over the top of her, feeling frustrated because I just wanted to get on with my writing. She started to purr and I realised how I was rushing through the day just trying to tick things off my to-do list.

Even though I know taking time to stop is important, I was trying to push through to get my writing finished. My little cat reminded me to stop for a few minutes and just appreciate her. The writing would still be there afterwards, so I did just that. I put my laptop to the side, stroked her chin and closed my eyes, breathing in time to her purring. I only did this for a few breaths, but it was powerful. Although I wasn’t thinking about anything in particular, just listening to my own breathing and her purring, I felt a sense of clarity at the end. I went back to my writing (you can read that post tomorrow!!) feeling rested and energized at the same time.

Can you stop for a few minutes right now?

Here are a few ways you can experiment with being more mindful during your day.

Try this

  • Stop whatever you are doing and sit down
  • Close your eyes and breathe
  • Counting the breaths in and out helps to stop your mind from wandering, but if it does wander that is absolutely OK, just bring yourself gently back to your breath again.
  • Do this for a few breaths and then carry on with the rest of your day feeling more connected to yourself.

Sounds easy? It is – remembering to do it is the hard part!!

You could…

  • Write ‘BREATHE’ in your planning diary on a day you don’t have playground duty. Sit in a quiet corner of your classroom while the kids are out at play.
  • Sit with your class at lunchtime and eat together in a mindful way. You and your  students can close your eyes, take a bite of food and chew slowly and mindfully, enjoying the taste and texture of whatever you are eating. Do this for a couple of bites. Great for calming the kids down.
  • If you are about to enter a stressful situation such as dealing with a behaviour challenge or meeting an angry parent, stop for a couple of breaths before entering the room. You will be calmer and should feel more in control of the situation.
  • When you feel overwhelmed with your workload and all that you have to get done, just stop for a few minutes and breathe. This does not make the work go away, but you should feel more clear-headed and ready to take the next step.