8 things teachers can do to prepare for a new half term

It has been a long time since I last posted! Call it writers’ block, but there has been so much going on. New school this year, and recently engaged, so I’ve been busy getting to grips with new systems and wedding planning! As half term holiday draws to a close, I find myself getting excited about getting back to work (this never happens!). For all those teachers, new or old, who find the last few days of a holiday break a bit overwhelming like me, I thought I’d compile a list of helpful things to remember/do before your alarm starts blaring at sunrise tomorrow!

8 things to do before you go back to school

  1. Enjoy an hour for you – have a hot bath, curl up with a good book, watch your favourite film, just do something that has nothing to do with school. This is particularly important if you’ve spent the half term week off chasing around after other people! This is YOUR time. Mentally prepare yourself for the new half term in a way that appeals to you.
  2. Prep your meals – I’m not a big food prepper, really, but I find that sorting my lunches ahead of the week really helps with stress levels in the morning. I just make sure I have enough bagels and fruit for grabbing in the morning, but this would be a good time to sort a tasty pasta salad or soup to lift your spirits when you hit a slump in the week.
  3. Try not to check your emails – I am THE WORST for this. You’ve gone all week not checking them, you can go another day. The last thing you want is to read about a problem that you can’t fix until Monday and you’ll then have to lie awake obsessing over.
  4. Pack your bag – your name badge/ID, favourite marking pens (does anyone have those?!), laptop, any books you brought home. The last thing you want is to forget something important on your first day back when you want to hit the ground running!
  5. Set your alarm – right now! Who has decided to leave setting their alarm for the week until they’re about to go to bed and then forgotten? Do it now, and it’s done.
  6. Organise a nice treat to enjoy during the day tomorrow – that first morning can be a killer, can’t it! You’re out of the morning routine and by midday you might be on your knees begging for 3.30. Cue yourself up a sweet treat, diet be damned. Or maybe pick yourself up a nice latte on your way in. This doesn’t have to become a habit. Treat yourself, it’s your first day back!
  7. If you really must, remind yourself of your planning – by this point you have probably already done everything you need to do for Monday in terms of planning. Either have faith, or make yourself feel extra prepared by reminding yourself of your core lesson plans for tomorrow.
  8. Get a good night’s sleep – it doesn’t have to be an early night, but go to bed with a good book, or a milky drink, and just relax. You’ve got this! The children will be really excited to see you and each other, and to share their week. It’ll be a great day, so you don’t need to spend all night worrying about whether or not you marked Tommy’s book properly, or if you remembered to include plenaries on your maths plan.

I hope these steps are helpful to some! I’ll be curling up at 9pm tonight with my new book that I have promised myself I will read every night this week for some me time. Have a fantastic first week back – it’ll be Christmas before you know it!



Using the Raspberry Pi for a temperature sensing project

A new experience for me this week – my first request for coding help! Someone from my fledgling list of followers have requested help with code for a temperature sensing project using a Pt100 sensor and a converter.


I don’t have this equipment yet so have endeavoured to find the answer through a good ol’ fashioned spate of web searching and crowd sourcing. Luckily I have found the following information…

Here’s a link to a thread on the Raspberry Pi forum about using the sensor in question with a RTD-to-Digital converter.

And this is a blog post by Raspberry Pi Spy detailing code for using a digital thermometer with a Pi, which I’m sure could be easily adapted depending on the sensor being used.

Finally, here is another handy thread on the Adafruit customer service forum all about using the same equipment for a nanobrewery! All useful information that is still applicable for this reader’s project.

I hope this is all helpful for the reader, and anyone else looking for information on this particular project. I wish I could give a more hands-on response but am lacking in resources at this moment in time!

Let me know how you get on ­čÖé



Five years are over already – I can’t believe it. What ever party you support, I’m sure many people will be looking back on the last five years with the same thoughts as me. Where has the time gone?

Five years ago I wasn’t teaching. I had just met my wonderful partner, I was finding a new job towards the end of my Masters, I was preparing for a life changing trip to Asia. Half a decade on, I’ve eaten Pad Thai on a riverboat, I’ve worked in media, got a dog, bought a house and changed my career. I’ve even found a new passion for computing and tech I didn’t really even know I had! Moving to teaching was and is the best decision I’ve ever made. Workload and pitfalls aside, it is rewarding, fulfilling and always challenging. I live to get up in the morning and go to work and that is a huge thing to come out of this past five years, politics be damned!

For me, today has been all about looking back on the last few years and thinking about the ups and downs. It’s obviously not all been smooth sailing, life isn’t like that. So what went well, what didn’t? What is in my control to change? Is it all about putting an x on that ballot paper?

Teaching gives us the opportunity to do more than that. We have a daily opportunity to affect the lives of our students, their confidence and self-worth. We can give them inspiration for their future paths, encourage them to question and reflect, be good role models, show them how to find excitement in life and learning. What a huge responsibility. This may sound self-important to some, but it is so much more about understanding the potential our roles in the classroom can have, rather than simply dismissing our days as “just another job.” There are many articles in the press about failing schools, ‘whining’ teachers, Ofsted horrors, it’s so easy to lose sight of why we started the job in the first place. Even myself, a mere few years in, have at times thought “Am I up to this?”

Whatever the outcome is tomorrow, I intend to start the next five years with my best foot forward. Battle through the marking, put up with the box ticking, grin and bear the jokes about school holidays, because it is so so worth it, whatever is thrown at us. After all, teaching is a privilege, not a chore. The ‘bad bits’ really aren’t that bad. Let’s put an emphasis on creating exciting and engaging lessons, getting to grips with new technology, having fun with our students! 

That’s my cheesy, soapbox moment over, anyway. I’ll read this back when I feel a bit low and remind myself about why I’m doing this. I hope it’s a helpful read for others as well. 

That’s enough serious talk. Happy Election Day everyone and have a wonderful five years!

Using QR codes for display

In a recent attempt to engage children more with our topic display, I’ve given using QR codes a go. I found the idea a while ago on Mr P’s marvellous ICT blog (my bible at the moment) and thought I’d give it a go. I was amazed by the results!


Many of the children had seen these codes around but had no idea what they were, and had just let them fade into their periphery. They were amazed at the way these codes could bring up websites or text, for example, as if by magic!

We chose some of our favourite websites about our topic and created QR codes for them and now they are proudly displayed on our topic board. These have proved so helpful for quick reference during various projects, as well as providing useful tasks for children as extension tasks. During our last open afternoon, the children were desperate to show their parents these ‘magic codes’, and many parents have now had to download QR scanner apps onto their phones for future use!

Now that I’ve trialled QR codes with classroom displays, my brain is swimming with the potential for further projects. What previously struck me as a fairly useless ad gimic is now proving to be a real hit in terms of pupil engagement. They love them! At our recent school trip to the zoo, the children were spotting the QR codes in between rushing to see the meerkats and elephants.

I’m feverishly gathering inspiration from various sources online. Top ideas for future projects at the moment are:

  • A learning scavenger hunt with each code revealing another clue – could be perfect for consolidating learning at the end of a topic
  • Creating a guided tour of the school for visitors – perhaps just on the displays to help explain the process/story behind the work
  • Prompts in maths – maybe code on table could reveal success criteria/method so chn can look if their stuck but ignore it for extra challenge
  • Literacy books – could reveal definitions of word classes etc at back of book if they need it? Or connectives word banks?

Where to start? As it is the end of term next week, I love the idea of organising a scavenger hunt to consolidate the learning at the end of our current topic. I better get cracking on the clues!

Signing off x

My newfound iPad organisation…

Today I’ve been busy preparing spreadsheets for my class facts and figures. I am utterly fed up of looking at messy handwritten notes and lugging around a huge planner all the time, so have decided to keep all of my levels etc on my school iPad. Obviously once my school moves away from levels it’ll need changing, but right now I am extremely happy with my new, streamlined life. Hopefully, my days of misreading my scrawl in progress meetings will now be a thing of the past!


Look, it’s all shiny and smart!

If, like me, you fancy bringing your markbook into the 21st century, please feel free to download the templates below for maths, reading and writing. I’d recommend setting a password for these files just in case your beloved tablet falls into the wrong hands!

The pie chart is intended to show proportions of each fine grade in your class, and the Reports tab allows you to see each child individually.┬áThe ‘Progress’ tab is currently set up to work out sub-levels progress between KS1 and Autumn levels, as that’s out starting point in Year 3, but this ┬ácan be easily changed to reflect your own set up.

The spreadsheets are for use with the iWork Numbers app, but I have attached them as .xlsx below. If you would like them in .numbers format, message me using the About page contact form and I will forward them on to you. Being a bit of a n00b in terms of formulae (it’s been a long time since I regularly used media budget spreadsheets in a former life!), I’ve not quite ironed out the finer details on these sheets so any advice on how to improve them would be greatly appreciated!

Writing level template

Reading level template

Maths levels template