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Tom came to teaching with one goal in mind – to be an inspiration. He continues this mission by providing workshops for students and teachers in all aspects of learning to learn.


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Don’t worry – be happy. Fat chance!

Tom Barwood

I sometimes feel like making a remake of the song ‘Love is all around me’ but this version will be for teachers only and will be to the refrain of ‘I feel it in my fingers, I feel it in toes.  Stress is all around me and so the feeling grows’

I can hardly keep count of the number of directions from which the bad news keeps coming from whether it be that we simply can’t keep up with the South Koreans, that we are all going to have to work until we are 90 to get a pension or that we now have to implement the new curricula amidst dispensing with levels, that Ofsted are coming or that we have to survive on an even lower budget than last year.

I was delivering a course on stress management recently (although I have decided that I am going to start a new form of martial art training to produce a breed of ninja teachers with my ‘Zen and the art of T Ching’ course. You want inscrutable – we’ll give ‘em inscrutable!). During the course I shared a couple of slides. The first being this one which I used to illustrate the idea that stress is simply when the size of the task in front of you is greater than the perceived set of resources that you have to bring to bear to deal with it.

                                                                                    TASK > PERCEIVED SET OF RESOURCES

                                                                                    TASK > PERCEIVED SET OF RESOURCES

I then detailed what I thought were the resources which we thought we had a lack of. Time is always at the top of the list. It is a lack of time or perceived lack of time which normally produces the greatest level of overwhelm in teaching. I often like to joke that if I wrote a biography of teaching it would be called ‘No time to urinate’. Gross though the title is I have empirical evidence that it is true – all the people I met in the toilet at four o’clock who told me they had ‘been needing to go’ all day.



{C} Intelligence

{C} Courage

{C} Contacts

{C} Strength

{C} Determination

{cke_prot  Willpower

Interestingly I was sent the link below by a good friend of mine who works in a large independent school. If you think there is no stress in an independent school then we always agree that ‘the stress is the same – just different’ and it all revolves around having more to do (properly) than you have time in which to do it.

So what is the answer? Well firstly to admit to yourself that you will never get everything done to your satisfaction all of the time and that second being in the now rather than panicking about what lies ahead or what you should have done better is the only way to give yourself peace of mind.

As someone once (rather cheese ily) told me ‘Always remember – yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, today is a gift that’s why it’s called the present’.