Five Highlights of 2014
1. Discovering that "Everyone is tired, you'll be fine" wasn't something that applied to me. I'm fairly certain that by making this public I'll alienate lots of (narrow minded) employers, and that in itself is a shame. Following a period of immense stress (that to my credit I spoke up about at work, and kept speaking up about) my body physically shut down. This has now been officially diagnosed as ME/CFS. I have an answer, this means I can form A Plan.
2. The astonishing number of friends who supported me this year, both in person, and online. I don't want to be asked how I am every time someone sees me and treated like an invalid but I have appreciated the texts and phone calls out of the blue, and the twitter conversations that passed a sofa-bound afternoon.
3. My exam classes that took on the independent learning skills I'd been drip feeding them all year. This worked for them when I left school in the middle of May - they continued to work hard, knew what to do and got excellent results.
4. Cooking. Being at home on my own all day meant I had to make my lunch (rather than a sandwich, shoved down in 15 minutes). I discovered a range of salads via Pinterest, paced myself to make them, then enjoyed eating them over the following day or so. I started to eat more fresh food and I started to feel better as a result.
5. The Science Learning Centre online behaviour course. The idea of a free online course is excellent, especially given my current limits (travelling, concentrating all day, release time from work, cost) This course was easy to complete - I could do it in little chunks when I felt capable and it changed the way I did things in my lab (I have routines that are public, the classes follow them, we all feel better!) I'm gushing - it was the best CPD I have done in years. There's another one coming up soon, I think about assessment, I can't wait.
Five Hopes for 2015
1. Get back to work, successfully, full time. The occupational therapist says I can do it, the specialist says I can do it. My hope is that I am given more time to make it work.
2. Smooth out the bumps. ME gives me a boom-bust pattern of energy, some days I can feel fine but 24 hours later I am unable to stand. The trick is not to go crazy when the energy is there which is tricky if you are someone who loves to get out there and live life.
3. Exam marking. What can I say? I enjoy it (once the first 40 papers are out of the way) and I'm looking forward to getting back to it this summer (and taking on the challenge of a new exam board)
4. A new perspective on my teaching. After years of taking on new ideas and trying lots of different things I think it's time to take it back to basics - good classroom management and treating the kids as people not data points. More smiles all round.
5. Me. If I'd spent more time in February-March thinking of myself, standing up for myself and asking for medical advice, I might just have avoided becoming ill. I'm now more conscious of how I'm feeling so this year I'm going to do more crochet/doodling/drawing/lego-building/cinema-visiting, all the things that give me energy so I can better cope with the things that drain it.