A life in the week of Ali Rust, head of PE at Aylesbury High School
It’s 5am and the alarm goes off. Thankfully for me I can ignore it for another hour as my husband is up to take my daughter to her swimming training for a 6am start. Breakfasts made and packed lunches done, I head out the door at 7.20am with my son to arrive at the childminders for 7.30am. I will be pushing my luck to arrive on time for our 8am PE department meeting. We go through the fixtures for the department this week and hear from each other about initiatives we are running or going to run. The brutality of such a rushed morning is softened by a colleague bringing in carrot cake as her competitor was voted out of last week’s Bake Off. Thankfully I didn’t have to bake last weekend but know my time is coming. Monday is a relatively light teaching day for me with only two lessons, so it’s off to whole school morning briefing to catch up with the other news, and them off to check on my year group, tutors and emails. This morning is meeting subject ambassadors from the sixth form to support some students in year 11 who might need some extra help with revision. I also have admin to do to ensure that GCSE entries get to our exam officer. Cricket practice is scheduled for lunchtime but I am grateful to a trainee language teacher and a history teacher colleague that they have stepped up and decided they would like to take the lead on this. So a quick check on them, and then I’m preparing for our U18s first indoor hockey game of the season after school and some more work admin, including getting resources ready for my two A level lessons tomorrow. The indoor hockey match goes well and we win, and everyone goes home happy, except me ….as my husband has done the swimming run this morning, it’s my turn to do tonight for two hours. Thankfully my husband has remembered to pick up our three-year-old and they are playing happily in the front room. Home and a quick check of emails and lesson prep for tomorrow.
It’s my turn for the 5am alarm clock, lunches made and off to the swimming pool, coffee in hand. While there, I go through my lessons for the day. Three swimming lessons across the road at the boys school, which I love teaching, always leaves me with a smile on my face knowing that what I am teaching them could, one day, save their lives. My A level lessons are both where the students are working at their own pace, one on energy system and the other on flexibility. It gives me time to check their work and mark their homework and give feedback to them one to one. With a drive to reduce workload at our school, and marking in particular, it has been strange and difficult not to take the work home and spend hours marking and correcting. However the benefit of these one to one conversations is clear and the students are able to then work on their improvements while I am there. Their ability to act on the feedback I have given and apply their knowledge to the task set is apparent and I can have a sigh of relief that I am not taking marking home with me. After school, I have an U14 v U16 training game in preparation for their county tournaments this week. Unfortunately we do not have an astro at our school, but are fortunate enough to be able to use the RAF base pitch close to us, so we get on the bus for the ten minute journey and have a successful training session, although with depleted numbers as the U16s seem to have forgotten how to read a team sheet and tick the board. One of our aims in the PE department is to find an app that can help us with this while conforming to GDPR regulations - another job that seems to be on the do list permanently. I return home about 6pm and once again my husband has collected our son and daughter from her after-school revision session (she is also in year 11 so by the end of the year I will most definitely be grey). This evening no one has anywhere to go so it’s dinner, playtime, homework support then off to bed early after I have set my cover work for tomorrow and had a last minute check of paperwork returned for the U14 county tournament tomorrow.
Again the alarm goes off, but I ignore it. I get to school and off we go on a coach with 16 year 8s and year 9s for their first county hockey tournament, one of the first time some of them will have played a full game of 11 aside. The bus journeys are always loud and involve an awful lot of singing, I wonder when High School Musical will finally become a thing of the past. The journey is also peppered with questions. Who is playing where? What are the short corners again? And what is this washing machine you were trying to teach us last week? (Long corners, trying to encourage them to move around the D). My girls play some great hockey, particularly in defence. But the goals allude us and we have to make do with playing in the third-place play-off, which we do win and finally score some goals. The hockey tournaments are a delight and a welcome day out of school, although I do find myself checking my emails to ensure I am up to speed with what’s going on back at AHS. I’m also checking my Google Classroom to ensure that my A level homework has been submitted on time. The journey home is consistent with the journey there. No matter how tired they are they always have the energy for just one more song, and it’s lovely to hear them bonding and laughing as a team. It really does remind me of why I became a PE teacher. It’s the extra-curricular sport in school that make me love it so much. Home to get to swimming, but tonight I have a precious half hour with my son who chats happily about his day at pre-school. Having a 15-year-old daughter, it reminds me constantly of how quickly this time goes. Once home, I check my emails and start checking all the paperwork for the U16 hockey tournament tomorrow.
Mega early start for long course training with my daughter. 5.30am at the pool. This time I have some energy so fire up my laptop to get some work done in preparation for my lessons next week and checking on intervention sheets for my year group. I respond to some e mails, hoping that no one notices that I sent them at some silly time of the morning. I check my pigeon hole which thankfully is empty, have a quick catch up with our amazing cover supervisors who will be taking my lessons again today and then head off to the first half of my A level lesson. I go through energy beakers to help them learn the concept of energy systems, then leave them with a collaborative task – made all the easier by my school bringing in a ‘bring your own device’ policy this year, so on their Google slides they can work together to answer the questions and tasks set. Grab the goalkeper kit from yesterday and we are back on the coach. The girls are upbeat and looking forward to the tournament ahead. We talk about the opposition we are going to face and the tactics we are going to use. My team has speed in abundance so we talk about how we are going to use that best, reminder of the short corner routines and another reminder that they need to move when they don’t have the ball. The first game is against a really good side and we surprise everyone, including ourselves, with a 0-0 draw. Suddenly their confidence grows. We analyse the game and look to our next. The confidence grows as do the singing voices. It makes me smile that they have taken on board some of the things I have been teaching them over the last three years. We go on to come second in the tournament, still unbeaten but a draw in the last match means we can’t win. However the top two go through the next round but with little time to prepare as its next Tuesday. On the bus I start to send emails out to arrange my cover, a coach and a letter to parents to get permission as well as notifying our admin assistant that we need yet another evolve form filling in. In the evening, while my husband goes hockey training (he coaches a local ladies side), I grab the precious hours with my kids to chat about their days, organise equipment for the day after and attempt to cook a nutritious meal all at the same time.
It’s inset day at our school, giving people time to get up to date with appraisals and some work. I work on a side by side project which means every Friday I am in a local school supporting with a project on Very Able Learners at KS3. It’s great to get out of my tracksuit and into ‘proper’ clothes but after an hour my feet are hurting and I am longing for my trainers again. It’s always a pleasure to get into other people’s lessons and I think it is some of the most important CPD a teacher can get. As I had met the students in the morning, they were all very keen to let me see their books and how much work they had done. Lots of evidence of ‘purple pen’ where schools are trying their best to cut down on marking loads for teacher, and it was obvious the pride these students took in their work and the improvements they had made.
We all lie in until 8am. Bliss. Our Saturday starts with bacon on and a breakfast in front of the TV (always Paw Patrol). My husband gets ready for going to hockey and I saunter into town with my son and a play at the local soft play. We stay for some lunch and then visit a friend with a five-week-old baby and a son with a similar age to mine. We chat about life. She too is a PE teacher currently on maternity leave. We arrive home to a very wet and cold husband who has been out in the rain all afternoon. I go and pick up a chippy tea. The diet must start on Monday.
Another lie-in until 8am. Well done my boy. I start up my laptop and get organised for the week to come while my husband takes our son to his hockey tots training. I power through my to do list and try to be creative in my planning. I check attendance, behaviour marks, praise point and intervention sheets. I update the weekly plan for my tutors to that they know what they are doing in tutor times with notices and information that needs to go to the year 11s. I review the GCSE and A level information that has come from a course my colleagues were on on Friday, update the action plan to ensure we get it right and that we can achieve the top grades that our girls have the potential to achieve. The evening involves sitting down with my husband to look through diaries to negotiate who is doing what this week. Who has the responsibility of the swimming runs and who is taking our son to and from the childminder? The negotiations never turn to arguments as we both try to give each other time with our children. It’s not easy and I always attempt to add in exercise for myself but by the looks of our diaries for next week that will have to wait.
A LIFE IN THE WEEK OF