5-a-Day for Teacher

In Confident Body, The Confident Teacher by Alex Quigley3 Comments

We all know the recommended dietary intake of 5-a-day for fruit and veg. Is it a simple shortcut to remind us to eat better because we need it. Now, the 5-a-day principle can extend more widely than that and convey a simple but powerful truth, breaking down a task into smaller, achievable parts can have significant benefits for us.

This article by Oliver Burkeman (an ex-Huntingtonian don’t you know), in the Guardian, shows how the principle of 5-a-day can extend to our to do lists to help us get stuff done – see his article here – with a healthy dose of mental well-being. He wisely states:

“Any system that lets you wallow in the fantasy that one day you’ll get everything done isn’t just useless but dangerous.”

In a short piece for the TES this week, I recommended ‘5-a-day marking’. The simple notion that we can fend off the procrastination-inducing pile of marking by chipping away with a rota of marking five-a-day. Those not always realistic (sometimes deadlines get the better of us) it is a good working principle to plan our work.

Now, the most significant 5-a-day is the five lessons that crash into you each day. No apple or vegetable is going to make that feel like an warm summer breeze in your tired brain, but of course, taking a break, eating some healthy snacks, having a quick walk and being more conscious about ourselves really does matter.

The think tank, NEF, devised their own five-a-day, targeted at personal well being – see here – with a focus on connecting – with people around you: colleagues, family and friends; being active and staying fit by taking up a sport or getting regular exercise; taking notice and enjoying your experiences; to keep learning, to take on a challenge; and to give, for the sake of it, and for the rewarding connections it can create. Teachers like Martin Reah have recognised the positive potential of the framework for busy and tired teachers.

Like eating your fruit and veg, this is all good common sense, but when we are tired and strained it can be the first thing we forget: being good to ourselves matters. It can make us happier and can help us to be better teachers.

Comments

  1. Really agree with the advice about breaking things down into manageable chunks, Alex – and I liked Oliver’s article. Thanks for sharing it. Am also a great fan of Martyn’s #teacher5aday.

    But I don’t think the marking 5 pieces of work at a time would have worked for me – especially in a subject like English where there’s a degree of subjectivity in much of the marking. I felt I had to mark a complete set of work so that I kept a consistent standard (and I well remember weekends of tackling 21 GCSE assignments which took me 20 minutes each, so 7 hours of marking…..)

    Does the continuity thing not present a problem for you?

    1. Author

      I know exactly what you mean Jill. I marked 26 books yesterday! The reality is that you can’t always do it, but the principle sometimes fits nicely, especially with ongoing feedback that isn’t necessarily deep in nature. With the likes of 6th form, I can do a class set in four sets of five and the continuity is no issue for me, but perhaps that is my having done the assessments so many times, or a lax approach. I don’t think the 5-a-day marking need be a straight-jacket – but more a handy guide.

      1. Thanks, Alex – and “lax approach” definitely isn’t a phrase I would associate with you!

Leave a Reply