Over the summer there were several days where I literally didn't get up from the sofa until about 7pm. As above, I find it hard to organise my own day when so many hours are undecided for you. Perhaps I'm conditioned by such a strict timetable of the working day, that I just don't know what to do without one. I much prefer holiday-days with different errands in different places, because then I can slot jobs and tasks amongst the structure that is already forming for me. Having said that, my return to school has started with a great return to running in the mornings. Thank you for everyone encouraging me. I know the photos are annoying everyday at 5am, but they hold me accountable, and your support means the world.
The #TeachingHero team is growing, and I would like to encourage you to read their posts from the weeks gone by! There are still some weeks left, and if you want to have a post all of your own, get in touch! I think it's important we promote those spreading positive messages, rather than listening to complainers constantly. Negativity is equally contagious, and we just can't afford the effect.
I'm back to trying to read as much as possible. At the moment, my class and I are studying 'Sky Hawk' by Gill Lewis and we are LOVING IT! It's actually given me ideas for further posts later. Saying that, I also have a bunch of other books to read. I'll review them as usual later on.
This month I would like to recommend that you sign up for Smiling Mind. It's an Australian site that has LOADS of mindfulness resources and guided meditations, all organised by age group, split into courses. It runs itself, and it's ideal for using in class. Check them out!
Although there are many jokes about the laziness of students these days, you must understand that you're within a certain percentage of the population because you are deemed to have the capability to achieve something they're offering you. Do everything within your power to reduce the prevalence of such stereotypes. Choose the right time to knuckle down, and tell people you've done so. We know that an embarrassing club story is usually more entertaining, but don't put yourself down by pretending that's all you do. Celebrate the library too!
Even if you go on to further study, you're only going to do this for the first time once! Make the most of it, both professionally and personally. Make close friends from all walks of life and create memories that you'll laugh about forever. Enjoy yourself and tell people all about it. It'll be difficult at times, because I firmly believe, if you're doing it right, your university days will actually be the busiest time of your life. For now at least...
Leading anything takes courage because of the many varied situations it puts you in. You will be dealing with wider issues than before, with a likely wider impact too; that's the whole point of leadership (in my opinion), broadening your impact. You'll be a mediator, a presenter, a point of safety, a critical friend; all of which involve complex emotions. Leaders must take calculated risks, with as much considered as possible. Bravery and innovation are paramount to promoting positive change.
I find emotional intelligence is a dying language these days. In a world fuelled by self-centred excuses stemming from too much enjoyment of playing the victim, often we forget that relationships in life are interlinked and that there are other feelings involved. Part of being visible (above) is to gather the sensitive data to find the most empathetic way to move forward. Having said that, part of being brave is understanding that there will be barriers, but it's the relationship built over time that will help you overcome them. Have a human side that ultimately makes the deciding call, but also calls out the snowflakes when needs be.
These lessons further interlink when you consider that absolute clarity - formed from how much you see and engage with - coupled with bravery and an understanding of likely human reactions, all combine to help create a route towards your vision. Knowing what you have, and knowing where you want to go are 2 completely different entities, but one very much relies on the other. Create a plan that gets you moving, but be realistic about the time scale and patience required. Your own communication skills are tested here. Don't forget to put yourself in other people's shoes, consider your own reaction to what you're asking for. Don't turn it into payback for what you may have gone through.
The journey towards, on onwards, to leadership can be tricky. You'll face undesirable reactions, misplaced fear and simple playground jealousy. Work hard to keep a level head and find strategies to deal with all eventualities. As part of a comprehensive wellbeing-centred approach, seek out supportive friends and colleagues that you trust. You need honest feedback to move forwards, comments from the ground on things you implement or want carried out. Make good judgements, understanding your definition of good may differ. Be prepared to be wrong, be prepared to be argued with. Count on all the lessons you learn to support you in making the best progress for your school.
I'll leave you to peruse the rest of the chapters yourself. Ideal for almost every stage of the journey in teaching, this book will open your eyes to the experiences of others. By this I mean, alongside offering advice, it's also useful for even the peachiest of school leaders to gather a sense of the behaviour of staff in other schools, to forward plan and prevent future difficulties.
Thank you so much to Omar for sending me a copy; I'd highly recommend it.
I'm still on my mission to spread positivity in our profession, and in the last 2 months, I've been sharing a weekly #TeachingHero. They've got great advice on well-being and resilience in our profession. What's more, they're a better read than the life-sucking misery that you'll find in some media outlets these days. I guarantee they'll brighten your day:
This month I've been reading 'The Unofficial Teacher's Manual'. It was sent to me by the lovely author, also a teacher, writing from a wealth of experience. It's hard-hitting, brutally honest and absolutely relatable. I'll be posting a dedicated review very soon!
This month, I'd like to celebrate teamwork! Drop me a message on Facebook or Twitter, with some details of a member of your team, and I'll send them a thank you gift from the both of us!
My response is purely my opinion, and you're welcome to comment below with changes you would make. But this is what I'd advise personally:
A specific 'ice-breaker' isn't going to be necessary, especially as you're the new one, not them. Even when you have a class full-time, my advice would still be to get into the learning as soon as possible, setting the long-term standards, and learn about each other along the way. I'm sure there are many teachers that give out a neatly compartmentalised grid with the children's hopes, food dislikes and favourite subjects scrawled across, but I doubt they do anything of any value with it; I'm pleased you're ambitious, I won't be cooking for you anyway, and you can love or hate every subject, it's still going to be taught to you!
You must keep in mind that, at some point, you're going to be responsible for the progress of these children (whether it's a placement or an employed post), so while you obviously want to get to know everyone, and for them to know you, you must ensure that you keep control of your image. By this, I mean that we are so keen to tell everyone our quirkiest talents, best adventures and funniest stories in an understandable bid to be liked, and all these episodes build the picture someone has of us.
With this in mind, consider the picture you want (and ultimately NEED) the children to have of you. Eventually, you're going to need them to feel safe with you, listen to you, in order to create the best outcomes with regards to learning. My advice would be, everything in moderation:
Being their friend first, and teacher second is never going to work. They're going to fall in love with you regardless. They want someone who is going to work hard for them, and they'll work just as hard for you. Best of luck!
This month saw the launch of my weekly #TeachingHero - a regular interview slot where positive practitioners share their advice and wisdom on teacher retention and strategies to keep you motivated. You can notice them too by clicking here, here and here! Comment below or contact me via any of my media channels to get involved! It's much more productive to take notice of positive role models, than enthusiasm-sucking pessimists.
I've learnt LOADS this month! However, my best lessons have come from 3 sources. The first has been a book I am reading, called the 'The Miracle Morning.' It might be changing my life, and I'll post a review soon! The second source was the DfE Teacher Workload Conference I attended (you can catch up on that here). And the third is the continuing NPQSL qualification I am currently undertaking. There are a few more sessions of the course to go, and it's dawned on me that I should start sharing some reflections on the research I am finding.
I've been learning a lot this month about modern children's lives, which sounds ridiculous as I read it back, but I don't think I realised how far removed I am from what being a child is like nowadays. It's over-stimulating screens and so much choice that they can't settle. At Parent's Evening this month, supportive families were telling me their child can't even sit long enough for a family game, and that makes me sad. So I've decided to run a new club upon our return. I want to instil that 'family around the table' atmosphere, and have spent a small fortune on board games, in the hope we can get our young people's attention to having real connections and relationships. More on that soon.