Friday, 23 April 2010

Bums on Seats!

When I decided to open ACT I knew what I wanted and what I didn't want. I suppose I had a vision of what I thought I could achieve - even though, in hindsight, it was a rather altruistic vision.

I didn't want a bum's on seat mentality. I wanted to 'see' my learners not a £ pound sign sat in class. I didn't want to wave goodbye to the learner at the end of their course. I wanted to offer an all round service that would see them progress through courses and training until they were equipped with the right skills & confidence to gain employment....Did you know I recently bought a Bridge?

I suppose the Teachers who read this will be defending my dream but the business men among you will be shaking their heads in disgust and muttering 'stupid cow' under their breath. It's a good job I have thick skin.

Last week I had a visit from a Business Link advisor (we'll call him Bob for the sake of anonymity) and my life changed drastically as a result of his visit. I'm not going to moan and complain about Bob even though he took my dreams, shook them and then threw them back in my face.

Was it cruel? Undoubtedly...Was he right?....Definately......Was it the wake up call I desperately needed?....Yes, yes, yes....Thank you Bob (you know who you are).

So now I've had my wake up call and I've had to rethink. Am I now a hardened business woman who envisages £ signs sitting in class? I don't think so. I still retain a slight blush of pink to my glasses. But, I have taken on board what was said and have spent my time more pro-actively this week.

I grew a pair of you know whats! I now say NO and mean it. We have opened a charity for the altruistic side of my nature ( or my expensive hobby as Bob called it! I have learnt to say NO....and mean it. Bob will be proud. I bit my tongue and did the necessary networking (which I hate). I smiled, chatted, handed out leaflets and even gave an impromptu presentation.

It has made me reflect on what I've been doing since January. Teachers are always taught to reflect, learn and improve and I do, where teaching is concerned. Why did I not carry it over to the business side?

Has the well aimed and executed kick in the ass worked? Well my inbox is full and so is my calendar for the next couple of weeks.

Thanks Bob - keep up the good work x

Friday, 15 January 2010

Not Enough Hours in a Day

I suppose I should start with Happy New Year. I don't think I said Happy Christmas either.

It was all an inconvenience this year. The centre opened on January 4th and I spent nearly all of the holidays covered in paint wasn't all on my clothes either. I've been washing gloss and emulsion out of my hair for weeks.

But, we opened. no grand opening (not yet anyway), It was freezing cold without the ceiling tiles so my teeth were chattering for a week before the new tiles arrived. The centre is now cosy. I spend so much time there that I've made it a home from home. I have taken things with me from various parts of my life. A wood and stone calendar from Cyprus, a picture created by Fluffy (my friend) and a mouse mat from Trina(CYprus)cold, ...I feel at home. Personally I think students like this as it is welcoming and not intimidating.

The weather interfered with the initial opening days. It was murder getting to work as our street, even now, is covered with ice....of course I live on a hill.
However, potential students have arrived at the centre asking about various courses. I was quite impressed as I haven't done any advertising yet.

I spent 3 days this week writing policies (note the use of a plural)..yes POLICIES...not one, not 2, not even 3...I wrote 14 policies.
How time consuming. How boring. What a shame that society has developed into a race that has to 'cover their back'. So I typed away while mutter 'Camel Crap' under my breath, (Anyone that knows me personally will know that I was muttering much more than that and that most of it is a lot stronger :)).

So the policies are in place but I'm bound to have missed one and will just have to plead ignorance if and when I get inspected. Although I am considering getting a Critical Friend in first. Obviously there is a price attached but don't get me going on the subject of money, fees, business rates etc etc etc

As you can no doubt guess it is very expensive running a training centre and especially setting everything up. Costs and invoices are still flooding in. I had all the fire extinguishers put in place this week. This was something I forgot in the cash flow forecast...along with a handful of other costs. But, I have a fire inspection on Wednesday and at least I will be legal!

I'm up early today to fit my personal cleaning of my home and ironing of clothes into my ACT schedule. This implies that ACT has taken over my would be correct in thinking this. Am I bothered? No I'm not. I love it. It is not busy and buzzing with people yet but it is getting there.

I must slot the Blog into my timetable..yes I have a timetable. My life now revolves round appointments, Initial Assessments and of course hospital visits too. I haven't been discharged yet although I do feel miles better. I've also stopped smoking with the help of miracle drug Champix. I feel OK and am not climbing the walls with the need for Nicotine.

I have tried to balance work and my disabilities. I shut the centre early on a Tuesday and Friday. This early closing was supposed to be time for me to rest but Tuesday has turned into private tuition time. I now have 3 dyslexic university studentsand have had enquiries about GCSE tuition too. Friday ios still free (POETS day). I sleep the afternoon away but I don't think it will be long before Friday is kidapped from me.

I know I have a disability but I can still work. Unfortunately too much is not good and ,of course, I never did anything in moderation. I am an 'all or nothing girl'. Andrew tries to moderate my activities but I somehow I always end up doing something that puts me on my bum...literally! Do I have something to prove? I think I do but not just to everyone else but to myself too. I have a disability but I don't think that makes me disabled....or am I in denial?

Disable or not I've still got to do the ironing....I hate that will be my Saturday morning chore...enjoy your weekend people.

Friday, 4 December 2009

Numb or Dumb?

That would be me then...numb or dumb? I am absolutely shattered. I have scrubbed, scraped, filed, painted and repaired and am not even half way there. I have contorted my body into places it had never visited before. My right hand is swollen, my right leg is numb and my back left the building yesterday. It is very difficult to walk without using your legs or me I tried.

I was initially worried about going to Cyprus next week as it is an inconvenient time to be away. But, I have since changed my mind. The break will do me good and also stop me from trying to imitate the Energiser Bunny!

The frightening thing is I know I have probably forgot something and, bearing the infamous Sod's Law in mind, it will probably be something very important. I remembered to take a kettle, some coffee and a cup yesterday but when I came to make a brew I had no spoon. That's OK. I can live with that but whatever it is I have forgot won't be as innocuous. Therefore, today's itinerary is in my iPhone, Outlook, on paper and written on my hand. I'm trying..honest I am.

I mentally and physically numb.....time for a holiday I think.

Sunday, 29 November 2009

De Bono's Hats...of all the things to remember

It's funny how some things just stick in your mind. I can't remember my dentist's appointment or that there's something in the oven but, Edward De Bono is lurking in my grey matter and I didn't even know it.

De Bono and his Hats were first introduced to me during my Teacher Training. It was part of the Critical Incident criteria. I had to apply his Hats to an incident at college. So I did this, duly wrote it up and handed it in....The End... or so I thought.

I have not thought of De Bono in years until this week when a friend of mine brought me her homework that needed proof reading. She has returned to university to take Nursing. Potty, nickname only, had a new assignment and didn't understand what it was asking. Now as I write this I can't remember what the assignment was but I can remember that De Bono's Hats was a possible answer (I think it had something to do with social experiments). I introduced Potty to his hats and the meaning of the different colours. I was amazed at how I remembered it all. It flowed off my tongue as if I spoke on the subject everyday.

So here I am at an ungodly hour of the morning completing all sorts of mundane, but necessary, admin jobs for my new business. I am flicking between being in charge of accounts, marketing, sales, management and being a teacher and of course this once again put me in mind of De Bono's hats. I know it's not relevant but completing all these different tasks reminded me of the English idiom (I think it's an Idiom?) about wearing different hats for different roles. And, of course, there in lies the correlation my brain made to the infamous Hats.

I have to wonder at the workings of a brain that remembers one thing and disregards the rest. As a special needs teacher knowing how to crack this anomaly would be the answer to my, and my students', needs.

So, with my Blue Hat firmly in place, I shall continue to complete even more mundane admin jobs and see where my brain takes me next...somewhere warm I hope.........

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Cutting Costs or Cutting Corners?

Setting up a new business is quite costly. Adult Community Training has been, or is being, set up and funded by me. I think this is quite something considering I have no money! But, one thing a woman can do is 'make do'. So all purchases have been carefully researched for the best bargain....lets cut to the chase here....I mean the CHEAPEST.

Yes, I'm cheap but oh so cheerful and so will ACT. The furniture is second hand, so are the computers and resources. I suppose I'm second hand too! Unfortunately there are somethings that can't be had second hand e.g. solicitor's fees, websites, electricity, telephone, broadband and the list goes on.

While I'm, quite happily, scrubbing the second hand acquisitions and looking at the slightly knocked and banged up furniture I wonder how long they will last. Was it false economy buying used furniture? Will it fall to pieces in the first month and need replacing?

Only time will tell. So I will carry on scrubbing, polishing and, in some cases, repairing my treasured acquisitions, readying everything for a brand new opening.

Thursday, 19 November 2009

Christmas...not this year

We are fast approaching the opening and I haven't been able to get in the premises yet! The solicitors are doing their bit...they better had be for the price. Why oh why did I not study law. I should get the keys on the 1st December. As I want to open on the first of January I have a hell of a lot to do through out December. So, with all this in mind, I have already bought & wrapped present and wrote all the cards.

I have never been this premature. In December I am also away for a week. It was probably not the best idea to book a holiday at such a busy time. But, I knew that once the business opens in January, I won't get a holiday next year. Ah... sacrifice, sacrifice, sacrifice...or is that martyr?

Sunday, 8 November 2009

Remembrance Sunday

A day of remembrance. It was very moving to watch the ceremonies on TV this morning. It hit me harder this year because my son has enlisted in the army. It is easy to forget the country is at war. Remembrance Sunday used to be just about World War 1 & 2.

My husband's mother was German so we remember both sides. His maternal grandfather was a prisoner of war in Stalingrad. I try to remind my son that their are 2 sides to any argument and 2 sides to any war. Any soldier is a son, brother, father or husband and there is grief felt for any death or injury.

I, however, am in a unique position that enables me to empathise with all sides in all wars. I am grateful for this insight which I believe makes me a better person than I was.