Monday 11th to Friday 15th February 2013
Given that I’ve not written anything all week I thought I might as well summarise my daily genius thoughts in a single post for the week.
Friday – One of those from the highest to the lowest days. So important not to let the lows make the highs disappear. Rather to somehow let the highs lift you from the lows.
Thursday – Had our first targeted parents evening for students today. Lovely to see that the brilliant HoYs who targeted the students did so for a range of reasons. Was lovely to tell a boy’s family that although he’s already at his estimated grades and above the C threshold with no behaviour issues that his tutor and HoY believe in his capacity to go further. He left beaming.
Wednesday – Today the “Myth of Progress” post hit 2000 views in 36 hours. Double the next most read post on this site. More importantly, members of SLT have been sending messages on TL and DM that it has changed their thinking and will change their approach to lesson observations. I hope so. I have questioned my blogging before but, after this week, I shan’t be doing so again. Blogging is about sharing your truths in the hope that they may resonate. That’s certainly been the case this week.
Tuesday – Today I saw two interview candidates teach a short lesson and break apart the 30 minutes of time getting students to learn something in order to review progress. The result was a blogpost that sent my timeline mad as it racked up 1000 views in stupidly quick time. But my main moment of daily genius from today is a determination to spread the word, particularly amongst our younger teachers, that it must always be about learning and that if students are given the time to work together or time to work alone with challenging materials on well-structured tasks then there is no need to “prove progress” to observers, the students or yourself.
Monday – Tonight, during #ukengchat I had a really warm realisation that subject-specialism is an amazing bond for secondary school teachers who are so often trapped in the compartmentalised system we are a part of; eggs in their egg boxes. As a member of SLT I have at times bemoaned the strength of specialisation in secondary schools but I have come to realise that I was wrong. Although we need to ensure that staff don’t become trapped in the equally egg box nature of departments, the commitment, enthusiasm and dedication that is engendered by well-led subjects is one of the biggest drivers of school, staff and student improvement that we have.
Sunday 10th February 2013
I had one of those #SLTchat nights tonight where I ended up having massive disagreements with people about whether members of SLT only have credibility if they can routinely teach good or outstanding lessons. Having already gone over that before I don’t want to say much here, but a spinoff argument came when two people used the phrase “satisfactory teacher”.
It was my contention that it is not right that we talk about teachers as satisfactory (or for that matter good or outstanding) but that we talk about the lessons we see being satisfactory. Their contention was that it was merely semantics and that a teacher regularly teaching satisfactory lessons is therefore a “satisfactory teacher”.
One of the privileges of having a blog is that you can always have the last word, and so it is here. I have a real problem with members of SLT blithely throwing out phrases like “good teacher” and “inadequate teacher” in much the same way as I have problems with teachers throwing out phrases like “foundation tier student” and “gifted student” because I believe it is a form of labelling. And as any good sociologist will tell you, the nature of labelling is that it frequently leads to the concept of “self-fulfiing prophecy” whereby the label sticks and the recipient comes to perform to the level expected of them by the label: fixed mindset thinking.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not perfect by any stretch of the imagination and I have (and probably still do) use some of the unfortunate phrases above from time to time, but I always try to pick myself up on this and change the form of words when I find I’ve applied a label to a person not their lesson. At the very least we can do that. At the very least.
Saturday 9th February 2013
It constantly amazes me how thin the dividing line is between utter certainty and potentially crippling uncertainty is when something is so important and meaningful in your life. Literally seconds can separate a feeling that all is going perfectly to a feeling that all is somehow wrong. That can be tough. But at those moments it is worth remembering that those same literal seconds might be all it will take to bring back the feeling of perfection again.
The truth behind all this is simple: when we truly care about something we open ourselves to these certainly uncertain and uncertainly certain emotions because they come as part of the terrain. The alternative, caring less but feeling less vulnerability and excitability, has its benefits but isn’t the stuff of poetry. Give me a poetic life every day.
Friday 8th February 2013
Another reminder today of the power of blogging and, in particular, the power of blogging honestly about the sometimes sad events from my youth. Months and months after writing a post people are still stumbling upon it and finding a deep resonance with events in their own lives and, consequently, feelings in their own breasts.
There are, of course, times when I doubt the wisdom of writing as I do on my blogsite, times when I worry about what I says about me to the world and whether or not it is too honest. In particular as my audience are largely education professionals I have doubts about my personal posts and whether they are behoveful of someone aspiring to be a Headteacher.
Today made me realise that they are, and that I need to be faithful to my instinctive sense of self. My blog may be marmitey in nature, but so is being a Headteacher and I’ve learned over the years that pleasing some of the people some of the time is often as good as it gets in school leadership. I have also learned that an honesty about what you are doing and why you are doing it wins the confidence of others much more than the dishonesty of being seen to be all things to all people. And with this beautifully bonkers blogsite of mine I definitely can’t be accused of that.
Wednesday 6th February 2013
Today has been a day of milestones. 21,000 tweets is an indicator of my profligacy with words more than anything else, but 15,000 views of my blogposts is a lovely thing and to get there talking about my inspirational English teacher is lovely too. Most humbling of all is reaching 1000 followers on twitter mainly because I’m still bemused as why strangers let me loose on their timeline when anyone I know in real life has blocked me on twitter because of “all the shit” I post.
The vast majority of those 1000 followers are real people because I regularly prune away the bots and the spammers and the chancers. I have no interest in boosting my follower count artificially mainly because the whole notion of followers freaks me out, as anyone who knows me in real life would appreciate. I normally can’t even bring myself to use the word and I really wish twitter would upgrade the concept soon.
This week, though, I have had three salutary lessons in not believing the hype with regard to numbers of followers and post readers and suchlike. Some have been hard to take and others have been welcomed, but all have had the same effect: to make me realise that however much love I get in the virtual world it is in the real world where I have most to gain and most to lose. It’s a handy lesson to be taught from time to time.
Monday 4th February 2013
Today as I sat in my office listening Flobots (not Radio 4) with my tie eternally loose and my top button undone (against school policy – for students) and my head full of school improvement ideas not founded upon anything other than a good ear and a good eye and a good heart I recalled some of the odd choices I’ve made.
Apparently I was too young and too untested to get the promotion I got and revelled in after one year of teaching. Apparently I was too ready for departmental leadership to take a sideways move to the school I loved for eight years, being promoted three times. Apparently I was too rooted in English and History to be an effective leader of data in a school where results are climbing and climbing and climbing.
I see these apparentlies (or apparent lies?) everywhere. Too young. Too old. Too nice. Too honest. Too jolly. Too ugly. Too trusting. Too female. Too sensitive. Too bullish. Too negative. Too optimistic. Too different. And I hate them. I hate the way that they are used to corral and constrain and conformise and condition and conquer and confuse and con others.
There is no “too much” anything other than the eye of the beholder. It is their limitations they are demonstrating when they consider you “too something” to do something or be something or achieve something. You are not the limitations of their apparentlies. They are. Remember that the next time you are tempted to ask that question that shows they have conquered a part of you: Am I too……?
Saturday 2nd February 2013
Today a lovely someone jokingly suggested that with my twitter persona developing as it is I might be under threat of developing a God complex, so I googled it:
“A god complex is an unshakable belief characterized by consistently inflated feelings of personal ability, privilege, or infallibility.” Wikipedia
My response was that I’m perhaps more under threat of developing a Messiah Complex, so I googled that too;
“A messiah complex (also known as the Christ complex or savior complex) is a state of mind in which an individual holds a belief they are, or are destined to become, a saviour. ” Wikipedia
I think I’d rather the latter than the former, partly because it’s more selfless but mainly because…
“The messiah complex does not appear in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.”
…and if it ain’t in the book then I’ve nothing to worry about.
Friday 1st February 2013
There are three levels of Dads’ Night Out. The lager night. The lager then sambuca night. The lager then flaming sambuca night. Today I am a little grateful that no lighter was needed.