Teachers: Finding Calm in Challenging Times

In usual times,  September is my favourite time of year- the excitement, the promise, the possibility of a new school year. 

But this September we will be getting to grips with a ‘new normal’ and it may feel a little different. 

Children will on the whole be grateful to return to school. Parents will breathe a collective sigh of relief as we acknowledge just how much teachers do, by supporting the running of the country by allowing us to get to work. 

But, as teachers you may be feeling anxious about what lies ahead.

At any time, the pace of change in education is relentless:  new government directives, changes to the curriculum and keeping apace with the challenges facing our young people. 

Although teachers and school leaders are well used to change, schools thrive on structure and routine. Procedures are followed which have precedent- they are repeated year on year and we know they work.

Yet Covid has presented very real and pressing concerns:  around health, the physical safety of staff and students, as well as the impact of lockdown on mental health. 

A simple question to teachers on social media revealed some common themes: 

Firstly, children coming back with different learning experiences and pressure to catch up. Attendance will continue to vary according to health conditions and local spikes.

The impact the new arrangements will have on communication with colleagues and the impact on everyday socialising and day to day chat. 

For secondary teachers the challenges of moving around school, rather than the students- teaching in non-specialist rooms and bringing materials for each lesson. 

All of this plus the knowledge that having created a ‘new normal’, we may once again have to pivot and return to online teaching and home learning. 

A year ago, I took the big leap, leaving education after 18 years and established a coaching business in which I support my clients in creating change- be that in career, in confidence or in well-being. Since embarking on my coaching training in 2016, I have learned mindset strategies that looking back I wish I had as a teacher.

1) Change at any time is scary because as human being we naturally want to retain the status quo. Our reptilian brains have evolved to keep us safe and anything outside of the norm naturally provokes fear.

2) People will respond differently to change- some people are more flexible and find it easier to adapt to change. Others of us have a strong preference for maintaining the status quo. This isn’t right or wrong: we are all different.

3) Fear affects the brain- when the brain perceives danger, our body is flooded with cortisol and we lose access to the pre-frontal cortex- the part of our brain which is responsible for higher order thinking. Our response then is to fight or flight:  to Forget Everything And Run.

4) Fear makes us unpredictable: parents, colleagues and students may behave in ways we don’t expect.

Of course, the teaching profession is not alone in adjusting to change.

My husband, Jon, is a Director for Intensive Care consultant  and has led the staff and hospital through the challenges that Covid has presented: including rapid expansion of provision and induction of non-specialist staff to work on the ICU: changes to shift patterns; adapting to work in full PPE and fear for their own health and that of their families.

Very early in the pandemic Jon observed the differences in his colleagues’ response to fear- 

RISE Some really stepped up, rose to the occasion and embraced new roles and responsibilities. Some great leaders emerged in this time.

FREEZE Some were initially paralysed by fear and resistant to change, unable to function or lead effectively. 

DELAY Others seem to have coped well through the crisis, but in the aftermath PTSD and anxiety have increased. Some who respond well to pressure and will rise to the challenge but when that pressure is applied for too long, we start to see burn out. 

So how do we make a positive response to change? 

1) Look at the change we’ve already been through- we have already shown the most incredible collective resilience in this time. Nationally, there were fears that the pandemic would provoke rioting and looting. We’ve seen some wrangling over toilet roll, but on the whole this pandemic has been characterised by incredibly civilised behaviour, care for our communities and wide spread respect for the rules. In schools, teachers have pivoted incredibly quickly moving the curriculum online and providing care for key worker pupils. 

2) We can choose our response. One of my favourite quotes comes from Viktor Frankl who was a doctor imprisoned in Auschwitz, having lost his wife and children, devoted his time to caring for his fellow prisoners. He stated: “Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms – to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”

3) Focus on what is in your control- 

The Serenity Prayer, written by the American theologian Reinhold Niebuhr, comes to mind here: 

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, 

courage to change the things I can, 

and wisdom to know the difference

4) Make well-being a priority. 

This is often seen as a nice to have, once we have reached the end of the to-do list. Actually, in order to have the mental and physical resilience for what is likely to be a very challenging term, well-being is key. Decide what this is for you: sleep, nutrition, exercise, relationships and make this a priority. 

On 27th August I will be partnering with Rebecca Daniel, a fellow transformation coach and teacher, to deliver an online Well-Being Day for teachers, offering training on mindset, resilience and well-being, designed for teachers returning to work in September. 

For further details please see here: https://linktr.ee/theteacherwellbeingproject

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Sarah Bramall is a qualified and experienced teacher in secondary education; qualified coach in Personal Performance Coaching and Coaching in Education and associate coach for the Best Practice Association. In addition to coaching, Sarah offers training in Vision and Purpose, Confidence, Resilience and Communication. 

Please connect on Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram @sarahbramallcoaching

White, privileged and scared to speak up

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Photo by icon0.com on Pexels.com

I live in a leafy village where almost everyone is white; my kids attend schools where the majority of the  children and almost all of the teaching staff are white. 

Like you, I’ve held my breath in horror and disbelief, watching the footage of the brutal treatment of George Floyd. My 12 year old son has looked to me for answers and I’ve been lost for words. 

I haven’t posted about this because I’m scared of saying the wrong thing. 

I wanted to stay silent and to let others take this on. But we know from history that whenever injustice and oppression have occurred, it has been due to the complicit silence of the majority. 

In the last few days I’ve felt my fear- based brain scanning for ways to justify staying silent. But I’m white, and privileged, I’m educated; I have an audience to speak to and this means I have a responsibility to speak out. 

I have learned from Brene Brown to allow myself to be vulnerable and to choose courage over comfort, even when that feels really hard. 

Why does this matter now? 

It matters now, not only because of what is happening in the US.

It matters now because it also highlights what is happening in the UK. 

The corona virus has shone a spotlight on racial inequality by the higher death rate in ethnic minority communities and that this is at least in part due to low paid high risk jobs- particularly our care workers and bus drivers being dominated by people from ethic minority backgrounds. 

As the economic impact of corona takes hold, social inequality will increase. This doesn’t only affect the most vulnerable- it affects us all. 

So what can I do? I can only start with what I know. These alone feel inadequate but they may be a start. 

1 Talk about it- online and IRL- what can we do individually and collectively? We can listen and allow ourselves to be educated. This might be a good starting point. 

2 Challenge media coverage- is the representation fair and accurate? And if it’s not let’s challenge it. 

3 Challenge the education system. In 18 years of teaching, I never worked in a school with a senior leader from a BAME background. 

In 2014 Michael Gove as education secretary removed American texts from the curriculum and replaced them with traditional canonical English texts (which often carry the racist attitudes of the past). The American texts- notably Of Mice and Men and To Kill a Mockingbird opened up conversations and educated kids about the impact of racism, at an age where they haven’t yet made their minds up. I’ve seen Black History month marked in schools but I’m sure there’s far more that can be done in creating a diverse and representative curriculum. Schools are busy now planning for the next academic year: write to them and ask what they are doing to make BlackLivesMatter integral to their curriculum and culture.

I’ve given you what I feel and what I know. But I know there’s more so please comment, challenge and share. Together we can be the change we wish to see in the world.

If you would like to continue this conversation, please come and join us here.

 

 

High Five, Mamas!

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With the gradual easing of lockdown, return to school for some children tomorrow feels like the start of a new phase. You might be sending your children in, choosing to keep them at home, or wishing that they could go back to school. 

But let’s take this moment for a huge high five and enormous pat on the back. 

Because the change we’ve been through in the last couple of months is huge and unprecedented. 

We’ve had to pivot and adapt like never before to working from home, home schooling AND trying to hold down a job or run a business. 

Nothing about this has been easy. The situation is far from ideal.

I adore my children but I find it bloody hard being at home with them. They’re generally good company but I find the domestic grind mind numbingly boring: the constant pressure to provide the next meal, another load of washing and picking up other people’s dirty socks or discarded lego pieces. And that’s why I’m so grateful for work!

Of course my attention has been divided as I have kept the business running, which has required its own pivoting and re-adjusting, supporting my husband in ICU as he’s led his department through the many challenges Covid has presented. 

My guilt has been in exposing our family to Covid through my husband’s job and thankfully we fully recovered but without doubt we put our family and health at risk. By continuing to send our children to school we were aware of the potential risk to the school staff and other families. While other children have had this time at home with their families, ours have continued attending school. 

You might be feeling guilty that the home schooling hasn’t gone to plan or work has been less than ideal or the kids have had way too much tech. 

Maybe you haven’t kept to the intentions you made- the fitness plan hasn’t materialised or you haven’t made the most of this time.

But the truth is none of this is ideal. We are all doing the best we know how. This is a global pandemic and we have thank goodness managed to muddle through.

So please let’s take this time to be kind to ourselves by letting go of self-judgement. Whatever you have or haven’t done, you have done your best. And let’s also be kind to each other- we will make different choices through this time and that’s ok.

Looking back to March, what have you learned about yourself and your response to change? What can you give yourself credit for? Please give yourself a big pat on the back- you deserve it.

PS Are you already part of our email community? If not sign up here to receive weekly updates and a free Mindset Management resource,

Comparison is the Thief of Joy

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Are other people doing lock down better?  

They’re keeping fit and doing Joe Wicks everyday, with the kids who are obviously fully compliant. 

Everyone else is having more fun with their busy calendar of online pub drinks, quizzes and barbeques with the neighbours.

And clearly the super advanced are learning a new language or making sourdough. 

Now don’t get me wrong- I love personal development and if you can make the most of this time by learning new skills or decluttering your house, that is amazing. 

But truthfully that’s not the picture for so many of us. 

We know social media is heavily filtered and edited to capture the best, not the worst moments of the day but sometimes when we’re scrolling it’s easy to forget that.  The fact is social media or at least the internet is the primary lens through which we see the world right now. 

This is the time, more than ever, to let go of the comparison trap. 

You might choose to use this time to get fit, but you might not and that’s ok. 

You might choose to use this time to learn new skills, but you might just have your plate full already. 

Yes, this is a collective effort and yes, we are in it together, but everyone’s experience is unique. 

It’s ok to have an off day. Of course we are all struggling with being out of a routine, separation from friends and family and anxiety about what the release of lockdown will mean for us. 

This week I’ve been repeating these messages to myself and to my clients: 

  • Stay in your lane- don’t worry what other people are doing- focus on YOU.
  • Manage your use of social media- unfollow and unsubscribe if it’s not serving you. 
  • Be kind to yourself- you are doing the best you can and celebrate your achievements, big and small. 

I am very proud to announce the launch of my new online course, Find Your Calm: Mindset Mastery for Challenging Times. If you would like to create a calmer mind, please come and join us! 

Our Grandmothers

February 29th was my Nanna’s birthday. If she were still alive she’d be approaching 104. She was born in the west of Ireland at the time of the Easter rising. She grew up in poverty and recalled the guilt she felt after sneaking in to a neighbour’s home and stealing a potato from the fire because she was so hungry. An old photo of her at school shows many of the girls without shoes and although she loved school she had to leave age 14, as this was a luxury the family couldn’t afford. At the age of 20 she left her home in Ireland to come to England to look for work so that she could send money back home. 

What do I remember her by? 

Her love: she had 5 children and 13 grandchildren but each of us felt that we were special. 

Her faith.

Her joy.  

As Nanna got older she lamented that people were so busy and no longer made time for each other. Nanna was never bitter about the opportunities she didn’t have but she lived her life to the full. 

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Photo by Tetyana Kovyrina on Pexels.com

Now look two generations later at the choices we have: the idea that I could create a business online, reach people everyday via social media, no matter where they are in the world; write a blog post that reaches 100s of people; coach and teach using video conferencing. The idea that I can go into a pub and teach local women, go into an investment bank in the city and coach women on confidence; speak at the Professional Speakers Association; teach women to create vision boards and plan retreats; create a product and sell it in a local shop. 

The opportunities we have available to us are phenomenal. We don’t have to stay stuck in jobs/ relationships or situations that make us feel stuck. 

But that could have been my choice. Only a year ago I was still in teaching. On paper it was perfect: part time and term time;  a high achieving school with amazing staff and students, 10 minutes away from my children’s school and I didn’t have to work in school holidays. Amazing right? 

But I felt trapped. It met 2 of my top three values: Love and Contribution. Honestly there’s plenty of opportunity for those in a school. But my one of my top values: growth was not being met. I need to learn and grow.  

I often refer to book The Five Regrets of The DyingI wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me. Being a teacher was what others expected of me- I loved my subject English; I loved teenagers and I know that’s not for everyone!  And I loved teaching. 

I could have chosen to stay stuck. I could have chosen to play small. 

Yes leaving teaching and starting a business was scary but even scarier is looking forward and knowing that if I didn’t find the courage I would feel regret. 

My nanna left her home at age 20 to move to a new country and find work. We’re not doing this alone: we stand on the shoulders of our grandmothers. 

What could you do? 

Can you Change a Habit? 100 days sober…

I’ve dabbled in this before- through necessity- 3 pregnancies, Dry January, giving up for Lent but always with a focus on when it would be over and I could go back to drinking. 

I’ve grown up with parents who drink, both socially and at home, alone and in company. An Irish Catholic background means drink is an integral and unquestioned part of your identity. A glass of wine to relax at the end of the week is well ingrained habit, but we’re not just talking Friday and Saturday night, but Thursday though to Sunday evening- that’s more than half the week. I’ve seen a family member struggle with alcoholism- it’s absolutely not a harmless drug.

I’m a social drinker and beyond two glasses there’s no off- switch. When I’m having fun I’ll carry on but as I’ve hit my 40s even one or two drinks lingers in my system and I’ve found myself using exercise as a way to sweat it out. Now all three children are in school our weekends are both full and precious. I want to be there and be present. I don’t need alcohol slowing me down. 

I’d known for a while it was time for a change. I know I can build new habits- daily meditation and exercise are so embedded they’re second nature. Eighteen months ago I kicked the coffee habit and haven’t looked back. 

This summer we got back from holiday and daily drinking and I stepped up my training for The Great North Run and that meant staying sober. The first challenge was my lovely school friend’s 40th- a lovely school friend who loves a drink and a party. Usually I’d have been right in there but this time, a week before the race I stood firm and ended up chatting to another runner who totally got it. This was closely followed by another 40th where there was drinking, dancing and all the antics. Again I stayed sober, danced, laughed and had just as much fun. 

My husband and my birthdays both fall in November- which usually would involve dinner out and at least a bottle of wine. Instead this year we went to the spa, ate all the health food and honestly had the best time. 

I’ve needed some support. I had to ask my husband to stop opening a bottle of wine and and offering me a glass in the hope I’ve changed my mind! My friends have been awesome and curious but have never tried to dissuade me or make me feel bad about not drinking. In fact the only peer pressure I’ve experienced was from my mother in law, horrified that I was turning down prosecco at 11am! 

The language around drink is interesting. The label teetotal still feels like a stigma; the more American word sober somehow feels more comfortable. The market is changing and there are an increasing number of alcohol free alternative which make it easier. Yesterday I tried the most amazing passion fruit cocktail which I swear would not be any better for having alcohol added. 

Many of the people I really respect don’t drink. These are the people who show up, full of energy and make an incredible impact. A friend who is a little further ahead than me said to me: If you have the willpower to do this, you have the will power to do anything. 

Will I go back? I don’t know. I’m sleeping well, my skin is clear and I’m more focused. When I need to relax I can make a choice that’s not a glass of wine. I enjoy going out being able to drive and not mess around with taxis. I enjoy waking up at the weekend having had a good night, but without the hangover. 

I can’t quite picture a future where I never have a drink but I’m also sure this is the start of a lasting change. 

What about you? What changes do you have planned for 2020? Join our lovely Facebook community The Transformation Hub and let us know. 

The Big Leap

Last week, at forty years old, I left school. 

Yes that’s right I have spent my entire life in a classroom, first as the learner, then as the teacher. 

My younger brother learned to read at the age of two, partly because he’s annoyingly bright but also because I insisted on teaching him and I didn’t let him go until he’d got it right (Sorry James!)

Through my teens and then university I worked on holiday play schemes in the UK and abroad, always playing and teaching. As a teenager I worked for Mencap, teaching younger teens how to play with and care for children with learning difficulties. 

Seven years ago I attended a leadership course and one of the sessions focused on coaching. After a brief introduction, I found myself coaching another teacher, asking her what she wanted to achieve as a result of the programme. When I finished she and the observer stopped and remarked- Wow Sarah you are SO good at this and though it’s not easy to accept a compliment my first thought was- Yes thanks, I am. 

But this wasn’t really surprising: I’d spent my life teaching- asking questions, building confidence and nudging children in the right direction, finding joy in those lightbulb moments when, suddenly, they got it. As my career progressed I coached other teachers, particularly those new to the profession, to set goals, find their strengths and reflect on their developing practice. As an English teacher I had spent years teaching children not just to read and write, but to speak and listen effectively. I hadn’t realised it but I already had the building blocks I needed to become a coach. 

On my return from maternity leave, A level was removed from my allocation: then two years later, GCSE was removed. The frustration I felt drove me to spend my evenings and weekends training and coaching; to listen to podcasts on the school run; to form new networks with coaches and business owners further ahead than me and it’s been a thrilling process. 

At work, I chose to keep my energy high. I covered my work space with positive affirmations and began to coach and teach coaching skills to  students and colleagues. 

I got clear on my values: love, growth and contribution. I came to understand that personal growth, a core value, had been inhibited but instead I focused this energy on personal and business growth. 

The true test is yet to come. I am leaving behind a wonderful community of staff and students. I am venturing into a new space in which I am solely responsible but I do know that we only get one shot. 

Life is too short to stay stuck, to be unhappy or to play small. 

•The Big Leap is taken from a brilliant book by Gay Hendricks

Boris for PM? First he needs a DISC profile…

It needs fixing and quickly but will Boris be the man for the job?

This is not a political post. I am not a Tory voter and I’m 100% with you in despair and frustration at Brexit. 

The DISC personality profile system focuses on the way in which we communicate and interact with others and how this may change when we create a public persona for example, at work and when we are under stress. 

It has four main categories: 

D = Dominant, Driver I = Influencing, Inspiring   S = Steady, Stable C = Correct, Compliant 

D and I characters tend to be fast paced; S and I slow paced. D and C personalities tend to be task focused, where I and S characters are people focused. 

Of course most of us are a blend of character types but understanding our personality style is an excellent way to raise our self awareness and improve our communication with others. In recruitment, this can be invaluable in considering how different team members may perform and interact. 

As far as I am aware Boris hasn’t taken a DISC profile. If he did, I am pretty confident he would be a high I- an Influencer or an Inspirer. He has charisma,  an excellent ability to persuade and, as we will remember from him zip wiring through London, a great propensity for fun. Boris is a people person: he will bring others on board, as demonstrated by his gaining the majority vote of 114 today, which outdid even what his supporters expected. 

A persuasive, fun loving, charismatic personality- so far, so good. But what are the pitfalls?

Personalities who have a high I on the DISC profile have character pitfalls they need to be careful to address. I know; I’m one of them. We high Is have a tendency to over commit, to be overly optimistic on what we can deliver. John Major cautioned today that anyone who promises to deliver Brexit by the October 31st deadline is unduly optimistic. Major, as an S/C, a steady and more cautious character would not appreciate some of Boris’ high I characteristics- a lack of attention to detail and a tendency to overpromise. But Boris, undoubtedly possesses the characteristics that Theresa May lacked: his focus will be on people, where hers was process. 

The characteristics of a D style are forceful, direct and strong willed (think Donald Trump). They are fast paced and task focused. They get things done but sometimes at the cost of personal relationships. S types who are steady and stable and very focused on relationships, can be easily shaken by a D’s abrupt style. 

Whether in a family, a classroom or in the workplace, knowledge of DISC is an excellent way of understanding ourselves, understanding others and how we can communicate and work together more effectively. 

I am a Certified DISC Practitioner and if you would like to know more contact me at coaching@sarahbramall.com

Imposter Syndrome: You’re Not Good Enough and Everyone is About to Find Out…

You’re not supposed to be here.

You’re not good enough.

Everyone is about to find out.

You know that voice right? The one that whispers to you; stops you in your tracks and makes you doubt yourself. 

As a young teacher in 2002, recently appointed and quickly promoted, that voice bothered me a lot. I thought was alone in feeling that way, until one day my colleague turned and looked at me and said: 

“Some days I feel like a fraud; I’m not good enough to be here and one day someone is going to find out.” 

In that moment my heart stopped beating. I couldn’t believe that someone else was experiencing exactly the same thoughts. 

What I didn’t know then, but do know now is that this condition is called Imposter Syndrome and is prevalent among high achievers. Although it affects men as well as women, it appears to be particularly affect women and members of ethnic minority groups, due to the cultural conditioning that may have caused us to feel less than enough. 

Imposter Syndrome was first coined as a term in 1978 by two psychologists, Pauline Rose Clance and Suzanne Imes who studied high achieving young women at Georgia State University. These young women presented with symptoms of anxiety, lack of self confidence, depression and frustration. Clance and Imes found that these young women tended to attribute their success to external factors (I’ve been lucky) rather than intrinsic qualities such as their skills or experience. 

The challenge with Imposter Syndrome is that it doesn’t go away. High profile women like Michelle Obama still experience it, but have learned to manage it. Michelle Obama’s conclusion from sitting around tables with some of the most important people in the world, from NATO to the UN, is that “They’re not that smart.”

Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook said that, ‘There are still days when I feel like a fraud, not sure I should be where I am.’

Even the great Maya Angelou said,“I have written 11 books but each time I think ‘Uh oh they’re going to find out now. I’ve run a game on everybody and they’re going to find me out.’”

The bad news is that Imposter Syndrome doesn’t go away. 

The good news is that we can learn to manage it. 

Imposter Syndrome stems from fear, a fear that we are not good enough and that we will be found out. This fear stems from our evolution as human beings. As cave men and cave women we survived as being part of a tribe. When we risk exposing ourselves by stepping outside of our comfort zone, or exposing ourselves to ridicule or rejection, we are fearful. For this reason, public speaking is a major fear for a majority of people. 

Our brains were not designed to make us happy, but to keep us safe. 

We can’t argue with or try to suppress Imposter Syndrome. What we can do is give that negative voice a face and a name. When this voice speaks to us expressing fear or negativity, we need acknowledge it and thank it for trying to keep us safe. 

But, in fact, we know that we aren’t placing ourselves in immediate danger by applying for promotion, delivering a speech or taking on a new role. 

Instead we can take the negative story- “You’re not good enough” and ask “What do I choose to think instead?” Our beliefs are formed of words and stories, repeated over time. We can choose to change our thoughts and change our language to form a new belief that will better serve us. 

When we focus on Imposter Syndrome we are focusing on ourselves: our doubts, insecurities and fears. When we shift our focus from ourselves to others and how we can serve, the story changes. C.S Lewis said, “Humility is not thinking less of yourself but thinking of yourself less.” When we shift our focus, we can ask ourselves more empowering questions: “What value do I bring?”; “Who needs my skills?”; “What is my unique contribution?”

In her brilliant TED Talk Your Body Language May Shape Who You Are Amy Cuddy explains how power posing can dramatically shift our confidence by increasing our testosterone (the dominance hormone) and decreasing our cortisol (the stress hormone). And no, we don’t have to power pose in public! But, the habit of altering our body language from powerless to powerful and creating a more empowered and less stress reactive state, can help us step into the person we want to become. 

Using confidence role models, visualising a positive outcome and even creating an alter ego, as Beyonce created Sasha Fierce, can all help take us to from the person we are now to the person we want to become. 

And yes, Imposter Syndrome will rear its ugly head, but when we can shift our thoughts, change our body language and focus on what we have to give, that nasty little voice will no longer have the power to stop us in our tracks. 

It’s Spring…and time to Grow!

It’s the beginning of spring- from now on the days get longer; we have more energy and this is a great time to commit to growth and enriching our lives. 

When I ask my clients to complete the wheel of life, the most challenging area is often personal development. Often when we have children this goes out the window. We may keep up to date with development at work or jump through some hoops to get through our annual appraisal but in terms of our own personal growth often we do very little. 

I was a total GEEK at school. 

I loved learning and I loved reading. 

I worked hard because I had two VERY clever brothers hot on my heels. 

At uni studying for my English degree I devoured books like there was no tomorrow.

I went into teaching because I loved learning and I love helping others learn.

As a teacher, I always chose to learn. When I was first appointed I was asked to teach Media Studies to A level so had to work hard to acquire new knowledge and took a course at the local college. Throughout my career, I committed to learning: both subject knowledge and new pedagogy and this was an real source of joy for me- education has changed rapidly over the years and I have adapted to change with it. 

In my 20s I took a teaching job in the south of Italy. I enrolled in the university and spent the mornings learning Italian, and the afternoons and evenings teaching English. I had the time of my life. 

But when I returned from maternity leave with my 3rd child my learning stalled. Due to my part time status,  I was no longer allowed to teach GCSE or A level. I still loved teaching but my need for learning and growth weren’t being met. I’d had a pregnancy, not a lobotomy and I felt my brain was going to implode. 

Fortunately, I found coaching and this has opened up a whole new world of personal development, psychology and neuroscience. I’m devouring new learning in the way I did as a child. 

Last year I joined the Toastmasters organisation, in order to develop my skills and confidence in public speaking. The Toastmasters curriculum is very structured; you are evaluated on every role you take- from grammarian, to speaker, to evaluator but the level of detail and quality of the feedback is far better than any appraisal I have ever received at work. Not only have I met a wonderful new group of people who have a similar level of commitment to personal development, I have learned a lot from the content and the delivery of their speeches and found a new world of learning there. 

Over the last few years I have attended talks and seminars from others in the personal development and business worlds. Last year I attended Tony Robbins’ immersive four day seminar Unleash the Power Within– which was an incredible learning experience. 

Throughout the last few years I have worked with coaches to help me grow in self- awareness and to help me grow my business. I also have coaching supervision, with a group of other coaches who support me in reflecting on my learning, as well as challenging me to grow and develop. 

We are living at an incredibly exciting time when learning is freely available to us- from almost instant access to books, podcasts and You Tube videos for almost anything you can think of. I still read physical books but I’m incredibly grateful for Audible- when on the school run, folding laundry, preparing meals- I’m learning all the time. 

When my clients come to me, they are ready to make a change. This change requires personal development: mindset work; learning about confidence, resilience or how to find a better work/life balance. Often this also involves a career change, starting a new business or stepping up to the next level at work. This is always about learning and development. 

When we start to focus on what we want instead of what we don’t want, this is really powerful. When we learn, we grow. This builds confidence and motivation and is incredibly inspiring. 

What learning are you ready to commit? What support will you need to make this happen? 

If you have been feeling stuck and are ready to start making changes, book a free discovery call with me and I will help you work out what you really want and support you in taking action to get started.