Schools – the students and the adults who work in them – have been much on my mind. I can’t imagine it’s been much of a holiday for many, particularly the people who have had to try to deal with the various results crises and chaos. I worry that many will be suffering from stress and exhaustion and not really feel ready to start a new term. But I also know that they will show huge strength and resilience and rise to the challenge of getting the job done. I hope it helps in some small way to know that I and many others are thinking of you and wishing you strength.
I have not exactly had a relaxing time myself but I won’t bore you with the details of various home and family situations. I would like to tell you briefly what I’ve been working on, because it’s very relevant to schools.
NB There’s a sneaky little (I mean, BIG) giveaway further down, so keep your eyes open!
Exam Attack comes out in early October and I made a 50-second trailer.
Some of you might recognise the title: that’s because I originally wrote a book called Exam Attack years ago and self-published it as an ebook. Then Hachette Children’s Books saw it and liked the idea. So I rewrote and extended it to cover a lot of the other learning-related topics I often write about to create a complete guide to facing exams of any sort with confidence and good strategies. All about how to plan, how to revise and work well, how to deal with screentime, how to boost your brain and wellbeing, and how to deal with the inevitable (but not unhealthy) stress that exams bring. All my usual topics and science-based advice. Available from all good bookshops and school suppliers.
I’ve finished writing and redrafting The Awesome Power of Sleep, which will be published by Walker Books in January 2021. Cover coming very soon!
And I’ve written the first draft of Be Resilient – How to Build a Strong Teenage Mind for Tough Times, also published by Walker Books and which will come out in July 2021.
That’s been a lot of writing, which I couldn’t have done if all my events hadn’t been cancelled because of lockdown. Silver linings.
Videos +++ for schools
Even before COVID-19, I’d been thinking of creating something to replace some of my face-to-face events. I wanted something which schools could use over and over again, for every year group, forever. High value and you don’t have to make me coffee!
I already had Brain Sticks and Stress Well for Schools, which I recently upgraded and beautified. But now, VIDEOS! I’m creating a series of videos that schools can buy to show to their students over and over again. Every video will come with a whole load of supplementary materials to extend the value with discussions, activities and printable sheets. They are a blend of professional editing (not me!) and my personal voice – they are not designed to look like something created in Hollywood but me talking directly to your students. Like a visit from me but without the stress of organising it.
The first, available very soon, is Tackling Stress, which is a suite of two videos plus an introduction.
I’m currently working on one on Exams. After that, Sleep and then Resilience, both of which I hope will be ready by Christmas. Making videos is not something I find easy and being a perfectionist does not make it easier… VERY time-consuming but, I hope, worth it for schools.
Why not book a Live Q&A?
Another simple but engaging, enjoyable and useful new option is to pay for an online Live Q&A between your students and me. Any size of audience, any topics you choose from the areas I cover, for up to an hour. We can use Teams or Zoom or whatever you want. This option will be available once my new website goes live (see below) but feel free to email me to discuss and, if you wish, to reserve a slot any time from now.
**** Two lucky schools will receive a free Tackling Stress video set. Just add a “pick me” comment below and I’ll pick to randomly, using a random number generator. Comment by Sept 1st. You must agree not to share or play the videos outside your school.****
NB If you make a comment and it disappears, DO NOT WORRY: my website is in flux over the next few days as my designer makes some changes but we will be able to see and keep any comments that fall through a crack.
My website manager/designer, the fabulous Andrew at Design for Writers, is working hard on this and it should be ready in early September. It won’t be completely new but there were a few major structural changes I wanted, including a way of making the videos available for download. I am not planning to sell books from my website, only the teaching materials, so if anyone wants to buy a signed book, do it NOW!
I am sorry I haven’t been putting much new content on my website this month. But, frankly, it’s all there already! And if there’s something you’d like me to write about, just ask. I’m here. Locked down and working hard to help teenagers, schools and parents.
Interviews coming soon
Finally, watch this space for two short recorded interviews on 1) ANXIETY, TOUGH TIMES AND RESILIENCE and 2) EXAM ATTACK – EXAMS IN THE SHADOW OF COVID-19. Both perfect for schools starting back this term. Brilliant for assemblies, discussions, PSHE or tutor times. And totally FREE.