Top 10 easy tips to start meditating

I know that it may feel like everyone is talking about meditation, but there could well be a good reason for that; it can change the way that your brain works, how you function, your emotions and how you value yourself.

With this in mind, I have put together 10 top tips that I hope will help inspire you to try some meditation:

1. Rid yourself of expectations

The best frame of mind for meditation is an open one. Allow yourself to experience every element of the practice without putting pressure on yourself to perform or think in a certain way. Every day you meditate is totally different which is why having a daily practice is the best way to feel its effects.

2. Give yourself time

To get into a daily routine, set aside 5 minutes of your day, every day, to meditate. No matter how busy or rushed you may feel, you can always find an extra 5 minutes or so that you can dedicate to ‘you’ time.

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3. Do what feels good for you

If sitting with your legs crossed is really uncomfortable, then there’s nothing saying you have to! This is all about finding time for yourself to find a position that works for you.

4. Don’t force it

A lot of people assume that when you meditate, you have to have a completely empty mind. Meditation is not about trying not to think, it is about being able to control your thoughts in the moment and bringing yourself back to the here and now when your mind wanders.

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5. Just breathe

Don’t worry about breathing deeply or softly, all of this will come with time and with the practice. All you need to make sure is that you don’t force your breath.

6. Use your imagination

Visualise your breath rising as you inhale and falling as you exhale. You will be surprised how much this will help you with your meditation and inner peace.

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7. Body Scan

If you are finding it difficult to get into the meditation, try to concentrate on relaxing one body part at a time. Start at your head, and move slowly down through your forehead, eyebrows and so on until you reach your toes. This also really helps if you are in bed and struggling to sleep.

8. Ground yourself

Focus your senses on how it feels to be standing or sitting on the ground, feeling the connection between you and the ground as you inhale. In reverse, when you inhale, imagine yourself floating away, light as a feather.

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9. Calming white light

A quick and effective way of instantly relaxing your body when it feels tense or anxious is to picture or imagine a stream of white light filling the body as you inhale and surrounding you as you exhale. You will feel the lightness fill your body and it will help give you a sensation of clarity and calm.

10. Try to make this a habit

As soon as you get into the daily practice of meditation you will see just how much of a difference it can really make to you. If you continue to do this day in, day out, it will no longer feel like a conscious effort but will feel like a natural part of your routine.

I would love to know how you get on if you start meditating and use these tips. The benefits of daily meditation are endless and I really believe you will start to love it just as much as me.

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About our Community Expert

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Kirsty Raynor

#TeachFit programme lead

Kirsty is a yoga teacher on a journey of empowerment, building confidence and pushing the boundaries of what traditional yoga is and can be.

She leads the TeachFit Yoga workshops in our partner schools.

Tips for handling an Ofsted inspection

Although it is only natural to enter panic mode after that dreaded phone call, you need to look at the inspection from a different perspective. Get out there and do what you do…and do it well. Embrace it.

Use this as an opportunity to show off your professionalism, outstanding teaching and fantastic pupils.

For those of you seeking guidance, here are a few tips to help you survive the inspection:

1. Be yourself

Try to get through the day as normally as possible. Your pupils will try to act up if you try to change your teaching style or methods, so be confident in your ability and be yourself. Avoid experimenting with your teaching methods or changing the classroom around, as it might unsettle or alarm the pupils.

Of course, it won’t be a normal day when Ofsted inspectors are walking in and out of your classroom, but just try and do what you would usually do to keep pupils, and yourself, calm.

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2. Focus on books

When I was training as an NQT, I remember being told that it didn’t matter how outstanding my lesson was, if my books weren’t impeccable. Ofsted inspectors want to see pupil progress over time, not just in the lesson so focus on your marking.

Your formative and summative assessment and pupils’ response to feedback is clear evidence of this progress. Make sure you are setting clear targets for your pupils and that they are responding to them accordingly.

3. Keep it in perspective

Ofsted is every teacher’s nightmare, but it doesn’t have to be. Think of it as another observation by your subject or professional mentor. Even if you teach the worst possible lesson, it is unlikely to affect the entire rating of the school.

Instead, use this as a learning experience and opportunity to develop as a professional. According to Ofsted guidance, if an inspector observes you for 20 minutes, you can ask for formal feedback.

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4. Lay the groundwork

Middle and senior leaders look at the prospect of an Ofsted inspection from a different perspective and have other challenges and pressures to face. However, if the SLT has laid the foundations successfully and you, as a classroom teacher, have done the groundwork too – half the battle is won, even before the inspectors walk through the door. You should always be ‘Ofsted inspection ready’ as a classroom teacher.

5. Be prepared

Brush up on the school code of conduct and behaviour policy, organise your class books and take a moment to breathe. You might get asked for an entire class set of books, so have them ready for each lesson you teach.

Read the Ofsted guidance and be clear of what is expected from you. The most recent Ofsted guidance is very clear about what inspectors can do and ask to see. They cannot ask to see planning and they do not expect to see a certain type or amount of marking. So prepare what you can.

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The intense culture of scrutiny that most schools in the UK have – good or bad – have trained us for this moment. With learning walks and book scrutiny, formal observations are never that far away for most teachers, so you should be well prepared for Ofsted at any time.

Ofsted has nothing up their sleeves, it’s just another observation. So, teach the best lesson that you can. Focus on planning lessons the pupils can enjoy, let the adrenaline take over and try to enjoy showing off what you can really do in a classroom!

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About our Community Expert

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Simi Rai
Community Expert

Over 5 years of experience in educational settings throughout London, Madrid and Barcelona. Whilst studying English Literature and Language at King’s College London and the University of North Carolina, she fell in love with her subject – both the study of literature and craft of writing.

After graduating, she completed the Leadership Development Programme with Teach First, whose mission is to provide equality through education, and attained her PGCE in Secondary English at Canterbury Christ Church University. She was then appointed as Deputy Head of English at one of the highest performing schools in England in a London inner-city academy.

Following this, she completed her Leadership and Management MA at University College London (Institute of Education) and became the director of an English Language company based in Barcelona.

Developing a professional development culture in your school

To develop any kind of culture, be it behaviour, a common vision or building a new teaching and learning culture takes a good period of time to evolve, no matter what school you work in. Over the last five years, John Hattie’s research (Visible Learning) has been cited all over the world as a possible solution for evaluating ‘what works’ and ‘what doesn’t’ in our schools.

Of course, Hattie would not advocate this and we all should take each of the findings carefully and understand the context and how this may translate into our own school setting. We should look beyond the headlines and understand what others are doing and how this may or may not work in our own school.

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If you are familiar with Hattie’s research, you will know that ‘Collective teacher efficacy’ (CTE) sits at the very top of his 252 effect sizes on pupil performance (+1.58ve) – almost double the amount of progress made in one academic year when compared to any other effect size!

Yet, CTE is often misconstrued as ‘everyone doing the same thing’ in schools or has left many struggling to define what it actually is. Although ‘what teachers do makes a difference’ in keeping with a school’s vision and values are important, in its truest definition, CTE means ‘working together’ to have ‘appropriately high challenging expectations’.

For me, this is all about building a culture of regular professional conversations. The difficulty is how to put this into practice with time-poor teachers and funding challenges to ‘free up’ teachers to have time to reflect and share.

Hattie says in a series of visible learning videos: “That combined belief that it is [teachers] that causes learning”. It’s not the students or those from particular social backgrounds that impact on learning, when [teachers] believe they can make a difference and you “feed it with evidence” that you are, that is powerful.

In my view, read the research, tackle it together as a group of teachers, and then disseminate the evidence into your context and refine and revisit.

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If I can talk about some of my own work and experiences in school leadership, developing a culture for teaching and learning, building a greater degree of consistency from classroom to classroom across a large secondary school with over 100 teachers, developing a common format which also offers teachers a degree of autonomy is no easy feat.

In my recent work, working with schools all over the UK, I am frequently asked the same types of questions, particularly with schools who wish to get their teachers to ‘pull their socks up’ when it comes to delivering quality teaching and learning across all classrooms.

If we put safeguarding aside, I have always believed that teaching and learning trumps everything else in breakfast, including curriculum.

We can have the best curriculum mapped out on paper, but if we don’t have our teachers equipped to bring the curriculum to life, then a diet of content is of no use to anyone.

This starts with regular professional development and pedagogical conversations designed to develop a collective teacher efficacy from the ground up. When the logistics are put in place, and those at the very top place the greatest importance on this culture too – and take part – the transformation can happen. However, it is a long journey and it requires regular reminders and discipline from everyone.

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On my travels, I do not think any school was getting it wrong, was changing school population, the child’s reverie skills to rebuild a culture particularly when demographics change all the goalposts. Good teaching and learning is always good teaching and learning and for me, that starts with regular professional development conversations where teachers hold themselves to account and have honest and transparent conversations with one another about their practice.

It’s not complicated, but the challenge is to make teaching and culture prominent in everything teachers do around the busy nature of school life.Nothing else should get in the way!

Ross explores this further in his summary of the paper ‘Characteristics of effective teacher professional development‘, written by Sam Sims and Harry Fletcher-Wood.

To get some of the conversations going on in your school, below I have listed some of the questions I frequently pose to headteachers I work with:

Teaching and learning:

  1. What does day-to-day practice look like?
  2. Is there an agreed common set of teaching principles?
  3. What is the expectation for pupils from classroom to classroom?
  4. How does this change for performance? For example, school inspection
  5. How does the teaching change when another adult enters a classroom?
  6. If teacher performance is weak, what is being done to support the member of staff?
  7. If your school has moved away from grading lessons, what makes appraisal lessons different?
  8. Has your school embedded a coaching culture? Do all the teaching staff receive coaching?
  9. Is there a stigma associated with ‘being coached’?
  10. What has your school done to reduce teacher workload?

Behaviours:

  1. Does the behaviour of pupils change when a school leader enters a classroom?
  2. When last did your school staff have a say in the behaviour/teaching and learning policy?
  3. Are teachers willing to have difficult conversations with one another?
  4. Is there a weak link in your leadership team?
  5. Is it being tackled?
  6. Is there a member of school leadership available every lesson of the day?
  7. Are all middle leaders aware that they are responsible for leadership across the school?
  8. What makes a teacher on an upper pay scale, different from someone on the main scale?
  9. Do you hear swearing on the corridor? Do you sometimes hear laughter?

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Professional Development:

  1. How does your school promote professional development?
  2. Is there a research lead who disseminates the latest information?
  3. Is this evidence/information also shared with parents?
  4. Does your school have a bespoke CPD programme for individuals?
  5. Can your school afford to protect 0.5% of its overall budget for professional development?

School culture:

  1. Why should I work at your school?
  2. How many teachers have left your school this academic year?
  3. What are you doing on social media to promote your school?
  4. What would Mr./Mrs ‘cynical teacher’ say about the latest school initiative?
  5. What does the school playground look like 30 minutes after the bell rings? Is there still litter on the floor?
  6. Is graffiti tackled immediately after it is found? Do your staff walk past litter?

From the many schools that I have been visiting, these are the common threads that are consistently requested by headteachers in all of the schools I work with. Of course, context matters and every school is unique, but there are some typical approaches that we can all learn from one another which I will be sharing in my new book, Just Great Teaching, published by Bloomsbury in September 2019. A summary of this can be read here.

What I can tell you, is that regardless of context and location, every teacher is struggling under the burden of marking and what every school must do, is reduce this burden by stripping away all the unnecessary myths, habits, approaches and techniques that have no impact on learning.

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If we can get this right in terms of teacher workload and instead replace this with forming a strong teaching and learning culture, then I do believe other ‘good’ behaviours and professional development habits will fall into place. However, all this comes with a huge disclaimer – everyone needs to do whatever is agreed, not just those school leaders within the school.

I have learnt that every school has a unique and individual journey and that these requests are common from school to school. What we need to do is strip away the compliance and replace this with commonsense conversations about teaching.


Sources:

  • Standards for Teacher Professional Development.  (DfE, 2016; Menter, 2010)
  • Characteristics of effective teacher professional development (S. Sims , H. Fletcher-Wood, 2018)
  • Teacher workload and professional development in England’s secondary schools. (Education Policy Institute, P. Sellen, 2016)
  • Developing Great Teaching (Teacher Development Trust , 2015)
  • High Challenge, Low Threat (M. Myatt, 2016)

  • How To Create A Teaching and Learning Common-Sense Culture? (R. McGill, 2015)

  • Structures and Cultures (R. McGill, 2016)

  • Just Great Teaching (R. McGill, 2019)

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About our Community Expert

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Ross Morrison McGill
Community Expert ~ Founder of @TeacherToolkit

Ross Morrison McGill, also known as @TeacherToolkit, is the ‘most followed educator on social media in the UK’. Ross has been a teacher for 25 years and is the founder of one of the most popular education websites in the world. He is an award-winning blogger, author and today, has worked with over 100 schools in 8 countries. The Sunday Times listed Ross as one of the ‘500 Most Influential People in Britain’ and today, he remains the only classroom teacher to have featured.”

Webinar | How to Lead Change in The Face of Resistance

What will be covered?

Join Opogo Community Expert and CEO of Courageous Leadership Diana Osagie as she helps you navigate uncertain times of change and gives you the strategies to move forward courageously with the leadership plans you have.

As a leader, it is your responsibility to navigate cultural change and be prepared for displays of resistance from your staff. Some of these include:

• Active resistance

• Passive resistance

• Caution

• And enthusiasm

Who will benefit?

Any post holders within schools, especially those in middle or senior leadership.

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When will the event take place?

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Date: Tuesday 11 June 2019
Time:
 7:00pm – 7:45pm
Location: Online

Click here to book your free place now.

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Speaker Profile: Diana Osagie

Diana is a School Inspector, Consultant Head Teacher & Leadership Coach with 16 years’ experience leading secondary education, including six years as a successful head teacher in a London secondary school; Diana works at the cutting edge of education and school improvement.

She is known as a resilient school leader, skilled in urban leadership under challenging circumstances. Diana has substantial success in developing school-wide models that strategically enhance the quality of teaching and learning across the curriculum and can couple sound strategic vision whilst giving clear operational direction.

Six principles of safeguarding in schools

The six principles of safeguarding originate from The Care Act 2014, which was instigated in order to set out the responsibilities of carers when caring for others.

The Care Act 2014 is aimed primarily at caring for adults at risk, however, the key areas covered within the six principles highlight fundamental safeguarding duties and responsibilities that apply to everyone; and reminds us all how and why safeguarding is EVERYONE’s responsibility.

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The Paramountcy Principle within The Children Act 1989 reminds all that ‘the welfare and protection of the child must always come first.’

Keeping Children Safe in Education 2018 makes it explicitly clear that safeguarding is everyone’s responsibility. Safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children includes preventing them from experiencing harm, enabling them to be healthy, and meet their developmental milestones.

“Every child has the right to grow up in a safe environment.”


The 6 Principles of Safeguarding as defined by The Care Act 2014 are:

• Accountability

• Empowerment

• Partnership

• Prevention

• Proportionality

• Protection

These principles outline every person’s rights to live free from harm or abuse and are the basis of all good safeguarding practice.

Accountability

Being clear about your responsibilities to safeguard those deemed as being ‘at risk’, and transparent in your actions so that the person who has made the disclosure understands fully the actions you will now have to take ensures that ‘Accountability’ has been met.

Empowerment

It is important that the person deemed as being ‘at risk’ is in control of the situation that is about to take place. Your role as the person dealing with the disclosure is to involve the person in the process of reporting the concern; this allows for ‘Empowerment’.

You need to be familiar with your schools safeguarding reporting and recording procedures; only then will you be able to confidently explain the next steps. When safeguarding children it is important to be aware that informed consent is not required in order for you to share a safeguarding concern.

However, it is good practice to always ask for consent to share. Working Together to Safeguard Children 2018 makes it clear that:- ‘Everyone who comes into contact with children and their families has a role to play in identifying concerns, sharing information and taking prompt action.’

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Partnership

Multi-agency working plays an important role in ensuring that the appropriate services and agencies are aware of, and where necessary working with, children and their families who are at risk of harm; therefore allowing for effective ‘Partnership’ working to take place.

It is important to note that when sensitive information is being shared it needs to be done appropriately to ensure that confidentiality is in place at all times. Following the correct reporting procedures, both internally and externally is vital.

Prevention

Safeguarding is reacting, preventing and helping children, young people and adults to recognise and deal with risk. The ability to do this well requires you to be able to know the signs and indicators of abuse or harm so that you can report any concerns before they escalate. You also need to be able to help the individual recognise that they are at risk of harm, and therefore aid in the ‘Prevention’ of it.

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Proportionality

Once a risk has been identified the way in which it is dealt with needs to be proportionate and appropriate. The ‘Proportionality’ used will depend on the level of risk. If there is an immediate risk of harm to the individual or others then a proportionate response would be to contact the Emergency Services.

If the concern does not require immediate action then the proportionate response would be to follow your schools reporting and recording procedures.

Protection

Safeguarding is designed to protect everyone from harm where they might be placed at risk, and ‘Protection’ is vital for those in greatest need of support. Supporting and representing these individuals in the most appropriate way can help to protect them from further harm.

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About our Community Expert

 

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Karen Foster

Community Expert
As an experienced practitioner Child Protection, Safeguarding and Behaviour are key areas for much of Karen’s expertise and experience. She has been working with children, young people and adults for over 15 years in a multitude of settings which include dance and performing arts companies, local authorities, youth clubs, education and the welfare to work sector.

Karen’s main expertise is in safeguarding and behaviour management and modification strategies, with her most recent role being a national Safeguarding Lead. Karen has also been a school governor for nine years, two of which have been as Vice-Chair.

Karen has also run a behaviour unit (inclusive PRU) within an Academy and worked with the most disaffected students whose behaviour was disruptive who weren’t accessing the curriculum within the mainstream setting. She has and also worked with disaffected young people within a youth club, most of whom were at risk of permanent exclusion and carried out safeguarding audits whilst working for a multi-academy trust.

Event: Cover Supervision 101

Thinking of cover supervision? Not even sure of what it is? Then this session is for you.

In Cover Supervision 101, Managing Consultant Lauren Cliffton will be explaining exactly how to establish and make the most of your career in cover supervision.

What’s covered:

  • What is cover supervision?
  • What experience do you need?
  • Earning potential / Flexible working
  • Transitioning from primary to secondary and vice versa
  • What’s expected from a cover supervisor?

Who’s it for:

Secondary & Primary TAs with 3months+ experience, Graduate TAs, Graduate NQTs, Performance & Creative Professionals, Recently Graduated Individuals, Sports Professionals, Overseas Trained Teachers, Professionals out of work & Potential Work Returners.


Date:
 Wednesday 06 February 2019

Time: 5:30pm – 7:00pm
Location:
 Room GC, Opogo, 3rd Floor, 9 Devonshire Square, London EC2M 4YF

For more information, please contact:

Thames Teachers | Opogo Hub Events
Email: events@opogo.com

This is a free talk, availability is limited.