Saturday, 28 December 2013

#Nurture 1314

Here goes: a reflection of last year and a glimpse into the next.

Last year I think I came to terms with being an orphan, which sounds a tad weird for a 40-somethinger, but anyone who has lost a parent – or both - will be able to identify with the loss of roots that you feel as an adult who no longer has that tangible context. I also know that I am still a darn sight luckier than many people who still have both parents, in that my parents were grounded, supportive and inspirational. The fact that my mum continues to influence my life 35 years after her death shows how important a parent’s input is for any child. 

The loss of my dad is rawer and much newer, but it would be doing him a disservice to dwell in grief any more. His sacrifices for my brother and me gave us opportunities that many children simply don’t have. We did not have money, but we had resilience, aspiration and pragmatism as models. He was an extremely easy-going, humorous and non-judgmental man but could not countenance self-pity or excuses in himself; therefore we learned to try not to indulge in these traits ourselves. 

Leading by example rather than direction or judgment is something I have tried to apply in the two and a half years since he died. I’m not very good at it, but I’m having a go.

Last year I think I was a decent parent. I could always do better, but I hate the idea that guilt is transmitted via the umbilical cord and competitive parenting is signed up to on the first day of reception. I ain’t buying it. Being a parent myself has shown me what my own parents gave to me. 

I could do with being a sight better-organised; life would be less stressed and hectic; mornings would be generally less mental. So that should be a resolution for me/us. But I won’t enter into that working mum guilt stuff that so many of us feel that comes with being a teacher. I have made certain decisions – like the one to work part-time – to give us a healthy work/life balance. I work locally and I see a lot of my kids. I’m glad about that.
Sadly, not me but whaddayagunnado?

I recently sent my youngest daughter into school in a Christmas jumper and her own clothes underneath. I hadn’t noticed the bit of the letter that said school uniform must be worn underneath the jumper. She cried for the 15 minutes it took me to go home, grab her uniform and get back to school. ‘Naughty mummy!’ said the school receptionist, slightly more gleefully than was necessary. Meh. No-one died and worse things happen. I told my daughter I was sorry but she needed to stop crying and get on with it. At the end of school that day she hadn’t forgotten about it but she had put it into the context that it deserved.

Last year I got too wound up with other people’s business. I read a tweet part-way through the year that resonated beautifully: “I’m much happier since I realised that almost everything else isn’t my business”. I think my own frustration has come from a sense that I feel I would like to be part of a SLT so that I can help shape policy and make the things I believe in actually happen. However, SLT’s probably not going to happen at my present school, which has saddened and frustrated me for such a big part of the year, but there's just no room at the inn right now. However, I have started to realise that I’m in a job that many people would give their eye-teeth for: it’s flexible, it’s creative and it’s starting to have influence in a non-conventional way, not least through Twitter.

Last year, at times, I believed my own press a bit too much. 

It’s easy when you acquire followers, re-tweets, blog-views and readers, to think that you are All That and a Bag of Chips at times. Having a wider audience and a forum for your ideas and views doesn’t mean you are right. It really does help you engage with others, and I have loved the network of contacts that has continued to develop via Twitter. Twitter is excellent CPD, but not because you become a better teacher simply by reading other people’s blogs and tweets and opinions. Twitter creates better teachers because it encourages reflection: it questions; it demands answers and possibilities; it widens horizons. So none of us are the answer to all things education, but the fact that we are discussing the shifting sands; fighting to establish a balance between change and stability, innovation and rhetoric is very exciting indeed. I have also found a voice and I like that some other people like what I tweet and write. I’ll carry on reading, writing and collaborating and reflecting and growing. It doesn’t mean that I'm better than anyone else. And it doesn't mean I’m right. 
Although don’t tell my husband that.

Next year is going to be huge in terms of professional and personal development. I, and some like-minded colleagues, have decided to create a school-led CPD company founded on the premise that peer-led, developmental CPD for teachers is the only way forward in achieving improvements in teaching and learning.

There: I’ve said it. It has to happen now.

I hope 2014 brings hope and happiness to everyone I know in real life and via Twitter, and I hope the two worlds continue to overlap.

Happy New Year!

1 comment:

  1. I just LOVED this, Rachael! Thank you.

    "I won’t enter into that working mum guilt stuff that so many of us feel that comes with being a teacher" - I was so pleased to read this! Wish you could bottle and distribute it... I know so many working mums who beat themselves up.

    Re: moving to SLT - you sound to me to have so many of the qualities that would make you excellent in the role. I know sometimes it's disappointing not to have the opportunity for internal promotion. But I think it can be better to move into an SLT role in a new school and start afresh. Sometimes it's actually easier to establish yourself in this role when relationships/identities haven't already been formed.

    And I have to say I love the balance of confidence and grounded good sense that I read in your writing, exemplified in the story of your daughter's Christmas jumper!

    Hope you and your family are having an excellent Christmas break, and that 2014 is a positive and happy year for you. Also hope to meet you at some stage!