Everything seems up in the air at the moment with so much change, uncertainty and increased workload especially in respect of the TAG process. But we are getting there. How we deal with professional challenges is, I think, really a mindset issue. The scary feeling of being a bit lost is the same thing that makes us feel reflective. We must look within ourselves to find a way to continue.
When we are lost, we typically look at a map to figure out where we are, and how to get to our chosen destination. This works well assuming there is a map of the territory in which we find ourselves and we know our destination. If we have no map, we must go on instinct, relying on our inner compass to show us which way to go. This can be worrying because so much seems to be riding on it. We fear we might go too far in the wrong direction or become paralysed and make no progress at all. Yet, this is the very thing we need to develop our ability to trust ourselves. I used the quote from John Maxwell at our recent Trust-wide leadership conference to exemplify how we might think about this. He said ‘the values you hold in regular times will hold you in difficult times’, and it is true. Solidarity is about eliminating fear, building confidence and ensuring we all arrive at our considered destination safe and sound. We can then re-group and start to move forward together again.
Practising and learning about our values is quite hard, but vital when we encounter inappropriate behaviour in our schools. Everyone knows that it is not acceptable to make derogatory remarks about anyone’s gender identity, the colour of their skin or culture. It is a shame, therefore, that our values are sometimes subject to subversion by use of ‘banter’ that is really not appropriate. Any kind of disrespectful remark that imposes on our sense of identity is no laughing matter. Remarks made against women should be called out on a more regular basis. It is not, for example, acceptable to belittle a woman as ‘moody’ or ‘mental’ when she is clearly experiencing symptoms of the menopause. There are 13 million women coping with the frequently severe impact of the medically recognised condition caused by hormone imbalance. The symptoms include increased and frequent temperature fluctuations, headaches, migraines, water retention, dry and unbearably itchy skin, memory loss, increased joint pain…..and so on. According to research by Channel 4 more than one in four women are encouraged to give up their job because of the chemically induced ‘brain fog’ caused by the menopause. This is not good enough, and we should be actively addressing all of those who indulge in discriminatory behaviour against women. Together we are so much better than that. Whilst we are all human and zig instead of zag occasionally, we should always seek to learn and understand before we blame anyone for a medical condition that will eventually become part of the everyday struggle of 50% of the population.
Maybe thinking before we speak might be a good start.
It’s always a pleasure to hear of the successes of former students. So to hear the news that former head boy Cyrus Larcombe-Moore and Daisy Trewartha-Wyatt have had a book of poetry and illustrations published was a great pleasure. It shows that the foundations that we are providing for the young people of our community are enabling them to go on to have creative and academic successes. As an aging sportsman the muscles and joints need a little more care and attention than they used to, so it was also great to see another ex student, Gemma Arundel in her working environment as a qualified sports therapist this last week. The success we have had with these and many more students reminds me of the impact that we have on young people every single day, and that impact will only increase with our relational practice work. I often find when the work is as stressful as it is at the moment, it’s important to look back on student successes as it validates the importance of what we do on a daily basis. As we tentatively come out of lockdown, it has been great to see our students (and staff) taking part in their beloved extra curricular activities again, it will not surprise you that I have a strong belief in the benefits of extracurricular activities both inside and outside of school, so to see our students on the courts, fields and the track this past week has been brilliant to watch. We also heard this week that we are able to start thinking about trips and visits again, however, with everything with this virus and specifically on the arrival of the Indian variant locally and nationally, we need to monitor any plans that we may want to make. With curricular and experience day trips, as well as UK residentials back on the cards. I am aware that there will be a group of staff who have not had the opportunity to experience these sorts of opportunities for our students, if it is something you would like to get involved with please come and see me. I hope that during the approaching half term break you find the time to refresh, relax and reconnect with some people that you haven’t had the opportunity to do so in a while.