I have enjoyed following Teacher5aday on twitter for a while now and have also got involved with some of the activities such as teacher5adaysketch however it has only been recently I have reflected on what “5 a day” means for me and what it might mean for teachers, those working in education but also for those in other high pressure and challenging jobs.
Firstly I think it is important to be clear on my views of what “5 a day” might mean. I am looking at 5 things I believe are important to do or include within the average day. That doesn’t mean all 5 have to happen every day; life isn’t simple enough to make this a reality. It is more about looking across the wider period of time, maybe a month or a term, and considering if these 5 things are regularly appearing, if something is too prominent or if something is being missed. It is about seeking balance and not about creating a simple checklist to tick off each day. I note that quite often where checklists are involved completing items from the checklist becomes the aim, rather than the checklist simply being an assistive tool to help with organisation of your task. We need to keep focused on the actual aim, seeking balance in this case so a checklist can just end up detracting from what you are really trying to achieve; so no checklists please.
So my five things:
Fun or relaxation
Am going to start with the need for a little bit of fun or relaxation as in our busy lives this is often the thing that we miss out. We often prioritise other tasks over having fun and therefore leave ourselves insufficient time to relax or enjoy ourselves, but it is important. Think about something you enjoy doing or find relaxing such as reading, which works for me, or watching TV or playing with the kids and make sure you are doing it regularly.
It is easy to get in a rut and to simple repeat the same tasks and activities week in week out based on habit. The issue with this is that it leads to boredom and a lack of fulfilment. Challenge is a key part to life and I therefore think it is important to regularly step outside our comfort zone whether this in learning something new, taking on a project, getting involved with a community group or whatever else you find challenging. There needs to be something that stretches you to go further in your life, and it should be something which you are doing regularly. For me this is often learning something new, a project or trying to improve my fitness, which leads nicely into my next point.
Physical / Health
It is very easy as we spend more time at our computers and using technology to forget about the physical health side of life. For those who have followed my posts you will be well aware of my difficulties in this area as I am not the most sporty person you will find. That said I recognise that mind and body work together, so if I am healthy and fit I am likely to perform better in other areas. As such it is important to make sure that you engage in regular exercise in a way that suits you whether this may be home exercising, a gym, walking the dog or, as is the case for me, engaging in CouchTo5K. The main thing is to simply get active.
It is all well and good to do things, engaging in exercise, or taking on a new work project or relaxing in the garden reading a book but in all we do we need to ensure we have purpose. Why are you doing what you are doing? Where are you hoping to go with things in the future? The things that you end up doing have to purposeful so for me my physical efforts are about improving my fitness to balance out the time I spend at a computer or in meetings, and to hopefully be a healthier person. In work I hope to support my school in the use of technology as an enabler, enabling students, teachers and support staff to excel in all they do.
Mindfulness / reflection
I list this last not because it is the last thing to deal with but because I think it has an overarching role to play. I recently heard Sir Anthony Seldon refer to the need to stop and reflect and this is my final point. We need to provide ourselves with the opportunity and permission to stop and reflect. To consider how we feel, our worries and our ambitions; we need to be conscious of ourselves and be mindful. We also need to stop and look back on our past, our environment, friends, successes and failures, and what we can learn from them. Only by setting time aside to be mindful and to reflect can we ensure, as Sir Anthony suggested, that we are the best we can be. This, however, is the one area I find the most difficult and one that I need to continue to work on.
Over the last six months I have had some significant difficulties, which I have considered blogging on however haven’t felt in the correct state of mind or correct place in my life to share, yet. I have also more recently found myself to be very busy, and at times possible too busy. As I consider the past six months and my 5 a day, I can see areas where I am making real progress, such as on my fitness but areas which, due to other things have taken a back seat including simply having fun and also setting aside time to reflect. With this now in mind I have a better idea of the direction I need to take in the months ahead. This can then help me in planning.
Hopefully the above 5 a day will help me to achieve the balance I believe is so important.