Podcast: On keeping positive, calm and motivated with Adrian Bethune.

21 Mar 2020


Like everyone else, just over a week ago I was teaching like normal in school. There was some sense of unease, some growing concern – but everything was going along as usual. I had a sore throat and had been coughing for a couple of days, but hadn’t thought much about it. Last Friday morning I woke up feeling pretty dreadful, with flu like symptoms and a cough that was much worse.

With the new guidelines, I had to of course self-isolate for a week. I am fairly sure it was the virus (it definitely didn’t seem like normal flu), but unfortunately I wasn’t able to have a test to confirm. It  means my wife, who is also a type one diabetic, and two year old have to now isolate for fourteen days.

Coming back to school yesterday was a remarkably strange experience. Exams have vanished and each of my classes only had a handful of students. It felt like a parallel universe, one that has completely thrown both staff and students.

The only positive on what was ironically International Happiness Day, was recording this podcast interview with Adrian Bethune. Adrian – author of the excellent ”Well Being in the Primary Classroom,’ and the brilliant teach happy blog –  has been in a similar position in the past week, isolating as a family after his young son developed symptoms.

In the interview, we discuss how we have found the isolation experience, and Adrian shares some ways in which he has not just managed to keep sane, but (unlike me!) maintained positivity and hope.

For anyone with a young family this has lots of helpful tips on how to keep relationships positive and activities do do. We also look at strategies for managing wellbeing over the next few months: exploring the role of sleep, mindfulness, perspective and how to maintain healthy use of social media.

For some further reading, this is a chapter from ‘Slow Teaching: Finding calm, clarity and impact in the classroom’ on sleep. For any who, like me, find sleep a bit of a struggle – it will hopefully be helpful. This is from the Action for Happiness charity, on how to main positivity through everything that is happening. The ten keys to happier living information on their website is also very helpful.

Adrian and I also discuss ways in which individuals can help during the crisis, and how that can help to alleviate your own feelings of stress and anxiety. This article has ways in which you might go about doing that. Adrian also mentions the excellent free offer that Headspace are currently running for educators, to help start a positive mindfulness habit. You can access that information here. 

If you are interested in reading more about ways of self-care which can help prevent exhaustion , this chapter from ‘A Quiet Education’ is called ‘Avoiding Burn-out’ and looks at ways that teachers can take better care of themselves. Finally, I have created a ‘Well Teacher Podcast’ reading list that can hopefully provide some ideas on things to read and listen to.

Over the next few months I will be sharing interviews that will look at how teachers can keep positive and motivated during these strange times. That includes interviews on teacher improvement (Tom Sherrington and Carl Hendrick will be talking about their new books in the next few weeks) and looking in more detail at various aspects of wellbeing.

The podcast is set up to support two local charities I volunteer with: ‘Health in Mind’ and ‘Vintage Vibes.’ if you would like to donate to support these charities you can donate to Health in Mind here, or Vintage Vibes here. A huge thank you to people who have donated so far – these support two very vuInerable groups who will need lots of support. I have also started an Edu-book charity raffle. Currently there are around fifty brilliant education books that you could win, all you need to do is donate at least a pound and you will be entered into the raffle.

Thank you for listening. I would really appreciate any feedback on how to improve the podcast, or ideas for future interviews.


Jamie Thom

English teacher, host of @TES English teaching podcast. Author of 'Slow Teaching.' MEd in Practitioner Enquiry, doctorate student #StrathEdD. Runner.

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