Checking in with Kyrome Adams
We recently spoke with Kyrome Adams on all things well-being and teaching related. Kyrome’s in his 5th year of teaching and is a phase 3 leader in a primary school. He’s also the author of the brilliant book My Daddy Changed the World.
You can follow Kyrome on Twitter here.
What does well-being mean to you?
I think we need to recognise and accept that well-being is not a constant. Various factors can influence our well-being so what I do today might be different from what I do tomorrow or the week after. For me though, it’s about having an appreciation for the small things and I think perspective plays a huge part in this. Normally, we only celebrate or think our well-being is in a good place when big things happen. I try to appreciate the smaller things, whether that’s waking up feeling happy or getting more ticked off my to-do-list in a day than I thought. I think you need to train yourself to appreciate the little things and know that the small wins can make a big difference.
What’s one habit or routine that improves your life?
It might sound cliché, but for me, it's going to the gym. Pre-Covid, I would go to the gym three to four times a week and I felt great. Covid happened and a football injury (torn ACL) led to around two and a half years where I wasn't as active as I used to be. In the last few months, I’ve started going to the gym again and the feeling I get when I go in the morning before school is amazing. I feel like I have accomplished so much in the day and it's only 7am! In the beginning stages, it was a slog and I would be regularly snoozing my alarm, but forcing myself to get up and go has been amazing for me.
What one thing makes you the happiest?
This is a question I struggle with as I think I’m still figuring it out. My initial reaction to saying that out loud is that it doesn’t sound very positive, but actually I think that’s OK. I’ve been saying to myself that I need something just for me. A lot of my identity is ‘Kyrome the Teacher’ but I need to work out who Kyrome is outside of that. I want a hobby! I love it when I see people passionate about something that to an outside person may seem obscure. I think it’s amazing when someone's passionate about one particular thing and I wish I had that. So, I am happy, but answering what makes me the happiest is a journey that I’m still figuring out.
What helps you to feel healthy?
It would be the gym and eating right. A friend at work and I have gone on a health kick lately. We've been ensuring that we bring healthy meals in to school and have been going to the gym together. It really helps having someone checking what you’re eating and helping you stay away from that box of chocolates in the staff room!
What do you wish you had known when you started your career?
I’m still early in my career as I’m only in my fifth year but reflecting back to my NQT year, I felt like I had to be the perfect teacher and know everything about every curriculum area. If a child told me I’d got something wrong, I’d panic a bit thinking, ‘I’m the teacher, I know everything’. I wish I’d known it is OK to get things wrong, that you’ll never be the finished product and that five-years in I'm still learning. That’s one of the most important things I would tell myself. When I talk to early career teachers, I say mistakes are fine and that it's good to make them. A friend at work has a saying that resonates with me - the growth is in the struggle. I would definitely go back in time and tell my NQT self that it's OK not to know every bone in the body or all the names of Henry VIII’s wives.
Why is now a great time to be a teacher?
If you posted a poll on Twitter, I think the response you’d get there would be very negative. Well-being and pressures on schools and teachers, along with the number of teachers dropping out in the first five years would indicate it's a tough profession to be to getting into. For me, it's all about the kids. When I walk into a classroom, the first thing I'm looking out for is whether the kids are getting the best deal. When I see kids smile, see that they’re happy, they’re enjoying learning, and can talk about their learning is the main thing. Knowing that you can teach them something they didn’t understand and by the end of the week they can explain or apply that knowledge is a massive win. So, the kids are the why.
How do you deal with pressure and expectations?
Schools are fast moving and ever evolving. Being organised about what’s coming up and having my list of things to prioritise helps. If something’s not for the kids, it’s not going to the top of my to do list. You always have admin jobs that need to be done but for me I try to prioritise the things that are going to benefit the kids and what's best for them. Also, having a good rapport with your team and being honest with your team is key. Not getting into that culture of talking behind one another’s back, knowing that if I ask you something or come into a lesson and notice something, I'm doing it because I think this might be a good way to do x, y, z. Professional dialogue! Teachers do care and don’t want bad things for children and we might just get some things wrong sometimes and that's okay. Definitely having a rapport with your team, being honest with one another and organising your thoughts and priorities all help with the pressures and expectations of school. Who doesn’t love crossing items off your to-do-list?
Who was your most memorable teacher and why?
Straightaway it would be Mrs. Herbert my Year 3 teacher. If I saw her today, I would run up and hug her! She might think, “Who are you?!”, but hopefully she’d remember me! I was never the smartest kid in class but she always made me feel like I could conquer the world. I remember one time I walked into class and my name was on the board with a star next to it. She said “Kyrome, I’ve given you the star because you are just an amazing human-being!” and that’s just stuck with me. Whenever someone asks me this question, she's the first person that comes to mind. She had a real impact on me, and my parents, so definitely her.
Mrs Herbert, if you’re reading - hello, I miss you and thank you!
What personal project are you most excited about right now?
A lot of opportunities arose off the back of writing ‘My Daddy Changed the World’. One that came up last year has been another writing project which is part of a series that will hopefully be coming out later this year. I’ve seen early illustrations, that look superb, and it’s one where I’ve managed to include my nieces as characters in the story which should lead to uncle of the year award…right?!
What's the best piece of advice you have ever been given?
I mentioned it earlier but it would be ‘the growth is in the struggle’. You can unpick that in so many ways. Going into my first leadership role this year, I have learnt a lot. Knowing and understanding that the various situations I have found myself in are all moments to learn from.
Can you recommend a Twitter account we should check out?
@Mr_Minchin - He’s great. He’s a teacher in Scotland and someone I connected with when I first joined Twitter. His pedagogy is top-notch and the experiences he gives his children are amazing. The ways he transforms his classroom from a Disney film to Star Wars etc. From the videos he posts, you can just tell his children are getting a good deal.
@_MissieBee - She posts some really excellent resources. In the lead up to the Year 6 SATs, she posted some great resources and great revision guides. Again, she’s someone I’ve followed since I joined Twitter and has got a really good-take on education
And how about any books?
As a teacher, I don't read many adult books as loads of my reading is children's fiction. I'm currently on the final few chapters of ‘Wonder’ which is so far an amazing story about identity, transitions and family dynamics. It’s perfect for my Year 6s as we’re nearing the end of term.
In terms of adult books, I’ve found ‘Atomic Habits’ by James Clear a game changer in the way I think and approach different aspects of my life. It’s about making the small 1% changes that can have a big difference over time.
Another one I have is called ‘The Learning Rainforest’ by Tom Sherrington. It’s about understanding the experiences of a learner so that we can approach and adjust different aspects of our teaching. Linking back to a previous question about never being the finished product, this book’s been good to review my thinking, the way I plan and the way I deliver my lessons.
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The Check-In is put together by the team at Mindfuel. Mindfuel produce fun, engaging well-being programmes for KS1 & KS2, providing teachers with everything they need to confidently teach well-being skills for positive mental health.