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Tests of Life
22 minutes | Jan 26, 2019
ToL 022: 'Living with the Monks' - Your Life Resume & Silence
In this first episode of 2019, I read a chapter from a wonderfully thought-provoking book by Jesse Itzler called ‘Living with the Monks’ in which he narrates his decision to go on a month-long retreat to overcome his addiction to his mobile phone and the frenetic pace of his life. Itzler is also a believer in the importance of having a ‘life resume’ which is something I’ve talked about previously on this site. I also explain why there has been a hiatus in producing resources on this site and how I aim to approach ‘tests of Life’ in 2019 - enjoy!
26 minutes | Nov 24, 2018
ToL 021: Alcohol & Young People
As the festive season approaches, the chances are that alcohol will be flowing and we’ll be toasting the New Year and absent friends. Alcohol is here to stay and is engrained into our culture - so what does that mean for young people? How can we help them to navigate the pressure they feel to drink at parties, and how can, we as parents, manage events which we host for our sons and daughters? Do we insist on ‘dry’ events or cave into demands and keep our fingers crossed that they will drink sensibly? In this episode, I provide a basic introduction to alcohol awareness and the kinds of issues that families might discuss to give young people the best chance of making deliberate choices, based on the best information available.
30 minutes | Nov 17, 2018
ToL 020: Navigating the Mock Examinations
This episode emerged from a presentation I recently gave to the pupils in my school who are preparing for their mock GCSE examinations in the new year. The focus was on how to manage their anxiety levels in the build-up to the exam period, having already completed a busy and tiring term of work. The talk was wide-ranging and explored mindset, sleep hygiene, revision techniques and stress management strategies. I have reproduced it here in the hope that the message might prove useful to a wider audience.
36 minutes | Nov 10, 2018
ToL 019: MeeTwo
MeeTwo is a multi-award winning app which provides a digital space in which young people can support one another in having conversations about difficult things. In this episode, I interview co-CEO and co-creator of the app, Kerstyn Comley. We explore the origin story of the app, why it is so ground-breaking and how it is re-shaping our understanding of how teens think and manage the most challenging aspects of their lives.
39 minutes | Nov 4, 2018
ToL 018: Tough Skin, Tender Heart
In this episode which comes just ahead of National Anti-Bullying week, I offer my thoughts on why schools should look at bullying as an opportunity for growth rather than something we should be committed to stamping out. The rest of this week’s recording is an extract of a longer interview I conducted 18 months ago with bullying expert Brooks Gibbs who advocates for a two=pronged approach to managing bullying - that we should empower our pupils to develop a tough skin and a tender heart and apply ‘the Golden Rule’.
26 minutes | Oct 14, 2018
ToL 017: Master Your memory Part 1
Most of us never tap into the true potential of our memory. We have a supercomputer sitting between our ears but it’s like we have misplaced the manual and have not idea how to get the best out of ourselves. Study skills are essential to success in school and with a little know-how, you can make a quantum leap in your ability to progress across the subject range. In this, the first episode in a series on Study Skills, you’ll learn the secrets of the ‘Link’ and ‘Journey’ methods for learning facts with instant recall.
16 minutes | Oct 7, 2018
ToL 016: Dropping the 'F' bomb
How we frame failure and rejection is a better predictor of long-term success than our IQ, our environment or our talent. In this episode we explore what you can do to reframe your relationship with struggle and setback; top performers in every walk of life say that failing fast and often provided them with the route map for their success - tune in and find out why!
31 minutes | Sep 29, 2018
ToL 015: Cyberbullying & the Game of Secrets
More than half of all teens will be a victim of cyberbullying at some point growing up and yet there is so often a conspiracy of silence when it comes to reporting and discussing online bullying. In this episode, I offer my thoughts on managing cyberbullying and include an interview with the cast of ‘Game of Secrets’ - an innovative devised performance piece created by 4 of our Sixth Form students.
22 minutes | Sep 22, 2018
ToL 014: Bullying & the Bystander Effect
Bullying is an unfortunate but enduring aspect of many pupils’ school experience. In this episode, we look closely at the psychological phenomenon of ‘the bystander effect’ and what, if anything, we can do to create a culture of ‘up-standers’ instead. I draw from my two-year study of ‘everyday heroism’ and suggest four competencies which, if purposefully developed as part of the curriculum, can turn the tide and create a community founded on compassion and acceptance of difference.
29 minutes | Sep 15, 2018
ToL013: Managing the Homework Mountain
One of the biggest challenges that pupils must manage as part of their educational journey is not what happens in the classroom, but what they must carry away with them at the end of each day. Homework! It can be a source of tension in the family home, a stressor on top of an already challenging day for young people and a barb for teachers, trying to develop a good working relationship with their classes. In this episode, we will be taking a look at the habits and strategies that pupils can use to make sure they stay on top of their workload and use homework as a launching pad for success, rather than a barrier to achieving their academic potential.
23 minutes | Sep 9, 2018
ToL 012: Settling into your new school
Making the transition from one school to another can be a really challenging experience for some young people. They are stepping away from all that is safe and familiar and entering into the unknown. Some settle quickly and thrive, while others find the experience more unsettling and may need some additional support in the first few days and weeks. In this episode, we explore some of the practical things pupils, parents and teachers can do to help make the adjustment as smooth as possible.
28 minutes | Aug 31, 2018
ToL 011: Email Etiquette
More of our daily communication is digital and our inboxes are filling up faster than ever before. Knowing the conventions of email and understanding how to avoid the pitfalls of poor communication are critical skills. Whether you are requesting a homework extension, asking for help in understanding a lesson or informing your teacher that you will be missing a class, there is a right and a wrong way to do so. In this episode, you’ll be guided through a 10 step checklist to take your email to the next level.
31 minutes | Aug 26, 2018
ToL 010: Gut Health for Students
We all know that having a healthy diet is an important part of overall health and wellbeing. The evidence is growing, however, to suggest that keeping the trillions of bacteria that live in our digestive tract happy, may be a critical factor in how we perform in the classroom and exam hall. In this episode, I explore the fascinating world of the ‘enteric nervous system’ and offer some simple takeaways that you can use to optimise your gut health.
20 minutes | Aug 13, 2018
ToL 008: Become a Luck Magnet
Do you consider yourself to be lucky or unlucky? Where’s your proof? Who is the luckiest person in the world? How about the unluckiest? Most importantly, can you change your luck? In this episode, we will be exploring the science of luck and what the research says about the small changes you can make to turn yourself into a luck magnet!
40 minutes | Aug 8, 2018
ToL 009: S.U.M. David Ralph
In this episode, I am going to be chatting to David Ralph - entrepreneur, out of the box thinker and host of ‘Join Up Dots’ podcast which has been running since April 2014. David had an ambitious mission to touch the lives of more than 1,000,000 people through his show and online resources and now, just 4 years later and with more than 5 times that number of downloads since he started recording, he has already smashed that target. To find out more about what David’s educational journey has been like and how he feels about whether schools are or are not preparing young people for the tests of life, listen to this lively and inspiring conversation.
37 minutes | Aug 8, 2018
ToL 007: Mindfulness 101
Mindfulness is a simple but powerful way of getting back in touch with yourself when the chaos of everyday life is pulling you away from your centre. Just a few minutes' practice each day can have huge benefits to your health and wellbeing, classroom performance and quality of life. Listen in to find out all you need to know to make mindfulness work for you.
37 minutes | Aug 6, 2018
ToL 002: How to be a sleep ninja
Sleep may well be the master key to success in school and beyond and yet so many of us are chronically sleep deprived. In this episode we take a deep dive into some practical steps you can take right now to improve the quality of your sleep and why it is so important.
27 minutes | Aug 6, 2018
ToL 006: Self-harm - name, don't shame
More young people are cutting, scratching and burning themselves as a way of coping with overwhelming feelings, than ever before. The issue is made all the more difficult to address because of the conspiracy of secrecy and shame that accompanies it. In this episode, I break the silence and offer an honest, unvarnished commentary on what self-harm is, why young people do it and how we can help them embrace healthier coping strategies instead.
34 minutes | Aug 6, 2018
ToL 005: Your miracle morning routine
Most people stumble out of bed, once they can no longer ignore their alarm, and then dive headlong into the chaos of a new day. Without realising it, they’ve set themselves up for failure! How we organise and spend the first hour of each morning can have a massive impact on our success in the classroom, on the sports field, in the exam hall and wherever else we need to bring our ‘A game’. In this episode, we explore the building blocks of a successful morning routine and how you can create your own.
38 minutes | Aug 6, 2018
ToL 004: Anxiety, up close & personal
Anxiety is a growing issue among students of all ages and yet it is still very much misunderstood. In this recording, we explore why anxiety is more an over-protective advisor than an enemy to be destroyed. We look at how anxiety can show up in our bodies, thoughts, feelings and behaviours and we consider some simple ways in which we can develop a wiser and more healthy relationship with our anxiety.
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