Before I went found myself on maternity leave, I had no idea what a KIT day was.
All I knew that my colleagues that had been off for a period of time would start temporarily reappearing and usually hover around school as an extra, or be in the staff work base catching up and frantically working.
Now after having a baby, I know exactly what they are. And I decided to think about how to use these days to help support my time, mental health and interests, rather than just popping in to keep in touch. I wanted to use my KIT days to help me progress and be productive.
Here’s what I did.
1. Made a proper plan
I drew up a schedule over seven months of what I would like to do, the training I would like to attend, the work I would like to complete and where, and the meetings I would like to be a part of. And then I sent it to my headteacher for approval.
The plan was a real bonus for both of us: my head knew what was required, and I got everything I needed in advance to make those days the best they could be: being able to receive agendas of meetings I would be attending in advance, for example, made a huge difference in allowing me to feel I was still relevant and clued up.
2. Focused on CPD
Now is the time to request the CPD that you have been craving. I used this time to update my DSL qualification that was due to run out soon after I returned and I attended an education conference that, as a lead teacher, I would not have been able to get out to attend.
The conference really eased me into the "adult world" (and allowed me my first hot coffee in months). It was a great starting point for me to try and re-engage with my attention span, which had been reduced drastically to the length of an episode of a show on CBeebies!
3. Got visiting
Going to visit schools that are similar to yours allows you to get a feel for being back in the classroom, without the pressure of familiar staff and pupils seeing you back and overwhelming you.
Visiting a contrasting school, meanwhile, helps you get ideas and gives you an opportunity to make links and network. Visiting a school that is aspirational for you allows you to remember, you may have a tiny human (or a few) around, but if you want to, there are opportunities around for you to progress through your career. Visiting a school of a female deputy head with young children really had a lifting and lasting impact on me.
4. Requested to work in my own time
There may be a scheme of work that needs tweaking or a policy that needs redoing. If you have the skills and feel that you could help, volunteer.
If it is not necessary for you to physically be on site, and you can work from home to complete it, outline to the head what you would like to do, how you can save the school and personnel time if you complete it. It will help your colleagues out, as they know that task that they may be struggling to find time to do is in your very capable hands.
5. Practised my return
I did a trial day before my proper return. It included my childcare arrangements, the timings, the usual route to work. I went into the classroom and contributed to a meeting. All in the knowledge there was no pressure: this was a test run and I could dip out at any time.