What I've Learned from Lockdown

During lockdown it has become more evident than ever that communication happens in so many different ways.



What we say is so important and the way that we say them and the words that we use. Someone once said that words are like toothpaste. Once they are out of the tube they can never be put back. Those words need to be carefully thought though and filtered in our minds before they are uttered.

I had a brilliant ‘coffee morning’ with parents during lockdown. During this session I asked parents one at a time for their opinion about home learning. Their responses were great and thought provoking for me as an educator.. A colleague told me that it was brave to give them that power. It wasn’t about power it was about listening and learning. Power would have been to not let them talk….


Non – verbal

Body language is truly amazing…The way we sit, the way we look at someone, our nuances can be read in so many different ways. I realize more than ever that a smile or a wave can make such a difference to an individual.



Technology before lockdown was a very different world for me than technology during lock down. Previously I may have shied away or bartered with a colleague so that they would do my technology and I would do their empathy…. Lockdown made me step up to the mark. I think it gave me time to take on technology and embrace it rather than run away from it.

I was honest with colleagues when lockdown began about my limitations. This gave me strength as they were always there to support me if I needed it. It also made me braver to try things out. Such a cathartic experience.  If I fell my brilliant colleagues would dust me down and we’d try again.

I have now confidently undertaken  live lessons, interviews and talks using technology I would have previously shied away from. My honesty helped get me through these . That and dusting myself down when things have gone wrong, which they have..


One size doesn’t fit all

Working alongside colleagues and parents has been really interesting during lockdown as things can easily be misconstrued. The lack of ‘incidental’ conversations which would normally happen on a daily basis has been really noticeable.

As humans we can easily read things into written communication. The same email can be read in completely different ways by two individuals. Because of this I have erred towards phone calls or live video meetings depending on the preference of the other individuals involved.

I have experienced very different views regarding emails, facebook, live lessons from parents. I have reassured them that one size doesn’t fit all. That we are all different and are all allowed to be. This has been well received.

I genuinely think that some parents envisage a book that teachers write in with ticks and crosses according to how they feel parents have faired with regard to different aspects of school life. A friend of mine thought that she would be seen as a ‘failing parent’ if her child did not 100% provide homework of an exceptionally high standard handwritten by the child through blood, sweat and tears and a ruined weekend in doing so.

The other end of this virtual homework continuum is a friend of mine who is a teacher who completed all of her child’s homework ‘to get it out of the way so that we can have a nice family weekend.’

Fluid communication is vital. One size does not fit all. This is one of the biggest lessons i’ve learnt through lockdown. In my opinion nothing beats a good conversation. Live group chats have been so beneficial. The art of listening can never be underestimated. I was on a live meeting with colleagues during lockdown. Someone said ‘I think we’ve lost Ginny ‘ To which I replied i’m here i’m just busy listening……’

Listen, listen, listen




The Jigsaw of Trust

Trust is so important. Without trust relationships can’t be made. Without relationships trust can’t be sustained… I love the quote that says trust takes a long time to build but seconds to break…

When I first meet a child especially one with specific needs I see before me a box of jigsaw pieces… These pieces may have been placed together by another teacher from another class however my job is to look at which pieces are already firmly together alongside those which have not been put together correctly or need slight adjustment.

I see my role as one whereby I gently tip all of the pieces out and carefully decide which need to go together first. I like to get parents to help me sort the pieces to begin with. They have made this jigsaw before and have top tips to help me put it together correctly.

The parents are pivotal in helping me sort the pieces. They know how to sorts the pieces easily as they have sorted them so many times previously.

I always like to find the corners as they form the basis for the rest of the jigsaw. The sides
are then sorted and then the rest of the pieces into similar colours. This helps me to group
the pieces so that I can start to fit them together.

Sometimes the pieces fit easily. Other times I need a colleague to help me. Often I ask for
help to put the jigsaw together. This is best done over a cup of tea.

Sometimes the child knocks the table and the jigsaw starts to fall apart.

Sometimes the child tips the table up and the pieces all fall on the table…

Sometimes I shake the table and someone helps me stabilise the table (At times that can be
the child themselves)

The jigsaw is fragile.

I always acknowledge how fragile the jigsaw is.

Someone else can take away important parts of that jigsaw.

I am always there to help piece it back together.

The jigsaw of trust is a never ending jigsaw.




#BrewEd Herts

I set off with some trepidation as I left the sunny climes of Northamptonshire to be part of my first BrewEd Herts event. I was a lone wolf taking it on alone. Subconsciously doing this by myself made it less real and so gave me a lovely protective bubble to keep it in perspective. This was only my second time of sharing my passion regarding empathy in a speaking capacity. Earlier this year I attended @EducatingNorthants and that opportunity had wet my appetite to share my thoughts and experiences further afield.

As soon as I arrived I was put at ease. Everyone was so welcoming. Clemmie was lovely and explained how the day would unfold. She had spoken at this event the year before and told me not to worry about timings as the whole day would just flow.

I was second to talk which was great as it didn’t give me time to worry. I had on my red Dorothy shoes to help me feel a bit braver and I truly think these did help me wend my way down my empathy road.

My talk ‘Follow the empathy road’ was my personal experience of my journey into the role empathy takes in my primary classroom setting and beyond.

This approach can be used with all, for all. One size does fit all. Brene Brown’s work especially her animations tipify the difference between empathy and sympathy. When we see a child, colleague or loved one in a metaphoric hole we need to resist the temptation to look down the hole and sympathise but blatantly get our ladder out put on our brave shoes (in my case they were my red Dorothy shoes) and climb down that ladder and stand in the hole beside the person who needs it. It’s not easy especially when the things these people are dealing with are so raw and so personal. Sometimes the act of being is enough. That in itself is pretty powerful.

What we have to give the individual is our time. Listening is pivotal and by that I mean real listening. In my experience by modelling empathy individuals will mirror it back. I have had times in my classroom when I’ve felt a bit low and needed kindness. Children who find the act of kindness and empathy challenging have come over to me and modelled my approach back to me. Now that is mind blowing.

To empathise is to give ourselves up to our own vulnerability and find a part of us that can relate to what this individual is going through. It’s hard and it’s tiring. Sometimes we can’t  relate to what is happening and then we need to verbalise it with words such as ‘I can’t imagine what you must be going through.’ We haven’t got the answers. What we have got is time, time to listen, time to be with them. That in itself is pure gold.

Everyone listened so intently which gave me confidence as I spoke. As I finished Jaz gave me a hug which was exactly what I needed. Emma was fab and we chatted over lunch about the topic of empathy in its many guises in our everyday life outside of the school gates.

The speakers I heard during the day were amazing and so passionate about what they truly believe in. I came away from BrewEdHerts feeling positive and empowered and ready to share the passion I have in this area to a wider audience.

Follow the empathy road. It is amazing how many others want to put on their Dorothy shoes and join you.




The Fruits of Kindness

So what do we mean when we say that someone is truly being kind to someone else?

In my opinion it means that there is evidence of three things:

  • Generosity
  • Friendliness
  • Consideration.

When these three elements are being used, then I believe that kindness is literally coming from the heart.

I experience true kindness often, as I’m sure many, even most, educators do. What is surprising is how these moments occur when you least expect them. I’m not even sure that it is the act of kindness that is important. It is what happens immediately afterwards that pulls at our heart strings and gives us that warm fuzzy feeling that only genuine kindness can.

The Apple of Kindness

My day began as normal. Break time arrived and one of my children asked if there was anything to eat? I suggested he look in the fruit basket where there were bananas and tangerines. He very politely told me that he didn’t really want either of those kinds of fruit but would rather have an apple.

At this point in the story I now realise there were a variety of responses I could have given. Obviously, I didn’t realise at the time, but the response I chose fuelled what happened next… I said that I had an apple in my bag which he could have. Once again, I guess, a small act of kindness but nothing out of the ordinary. I duly gave him the apple. He then politely asked if I would cut it in half. Once again I had lots of options but I diligently cut it in half and went to give him the apple back. As I attempted this he took one half and told me to keep the other half. When I questioned why, his reply floored me:

‘It was your apple, we need to share it.’

The Peaches (Tinned) of Kindness

At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic (which seems such a long time ago) I was in my local supermarket. The lady in front of me was doing her weekly shop which included shopping for her elderly father, as I found out while we waited in the queue to pay. On reaching the cashier, the lady was told that she could only buy two of the three tins of peaches she had placed on the conveyor belt. Clearly disappointed, she tried explaining that her Dad loved his tinned peaches but to no avail.

As she was leaving, I asked her to wait a minute and I bought the third tin of peaches and gave it to her to give to her father. She was over the moon and thanked me profusely. I thought nothing more of it, just that I was pleased to have helped her and her father and continued loading my shopping into my Bags for Life.

As I walked with my trolley to the car a short while later, I heard someone shouting me from afar. When I looked over it was the Peaches Lady as we shall now call her. I walked towards her and saw that she was waving her mobile phone in a very animated fashion and beckoning me over. As I approached, I heard her saying, ‘Here is the lovely lady who bought you your peaches, Dad. Yes, of course I’ll hand you over.’

Next thing I know I had an unexpected but lovely personal thank you for my kindness from Peaches Man as we shall now call him.

Kindness Does Indeed Breed Kindness

Little acts of kindness, fruit-related or otherwise, cost nothing and yet meant so much to so many people in those scenarios. Unexpected generosity, simple friendliness, being considerate – all given and returned.

Kindness really does breed kindness.