A couple of years ago I took a colleague to their first teachmeet, which was the penultimate evening of term before the Christmas holidays. As we started the last morning of term I said wouldn't it be great to be in a school with outward facing colleagues who own their CPD by networking outside of their own school bubble. I was told that just wasn't realistic and couldn't happen. I held onto the dream that it can. I now work in a school where colleagues are signed up to the Chartered College of teaching and are outward facing. Yes it brings challenges as we bring many opinions to meetings but it is a powerful energetic professional environment to work in.
After years of looking at targets and termly progress data I started to be annoyed at the robotic approach to progress and attainment. I said at a leadership team meeting that even though students were capable of achieving more they were melting under the relentless target pressure in every lesson. I asked for mental health and wellbeing to be on a parity with an academic progress push. No money was forthcoming so I spent my own money and holiday time training myself. I wrote a positive psychologies programme to support y7-y11 instead of a last minute intervention this pervaded the ethos of a can do attitude. Being told there is no money and data is the only thing that matters can be changed if you hold onto your dreams.
When I spoke at the Festival of Education on teaching Happiness in schools an audience member said that fluffy messages such as Happiness weren't going to be taken seriously in a leadership meeting. I disagree fully that Happiness, kindness and love are indeed values which schools do need to harness and explore with students. In my new school it's a real pleasure to see kindness as our value of the month in November. Students will reflect and respond to assemblies and start to consider the type of humans they are going to be in the adult world. As educational leaders we need to dream of the type of education we wish to see. Making bold decisions to bring about change is our role as school leaders. We can do it, even when people say it's not achievable. We are only one decision away from making different lives for our school community.
If you dream it - you can do it! This has been my driving force over the past few years. I knew there was a way to equip students for the rigours of 21st and 22nd Century life. I just needed to find the right school. That school happens to be a brand new school where we are questioning how things are done. I love 8:30-9:00 when I have the real privilege of teaching mindfulness. Seeing students relax, focus and get ready for their first lesson is a fabulous start to the school day. I used to feel the stress, negativity and annoyance from students in registration as they were bombarded with messages, negative conversations and then we expected them to flourish in lessons! Mindful mornings has brought a calm, purposeful routine to school. Dreaming is believing and we are turning that dream into a reality.
As a teacher, educational leader it is important to explore, dream and discover what works. Do we need pastoral teams or do we need coaching teams? Do we need students to just do and follow their pastoral leader like sheep or do we need students to be coached to learn and flourish into adulthood? We are exploring coaching as a way of working with students. It is a five year journey but we are embracing sailing beyond the normal harbour walls as a school flotilla of hope.
If you are a teacher who dreams of a different way of doing things - keep dreaming but start taking steps to doing things differently for your students. We are a profession with many skills and the ability to be bold for change. It is possible and we need to start sharing our journeys to build a positive route map fir those who feel stuck.
I've only been in my new school for one term and my dreams are becoming a reality. Where will term 2 take us?