Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.
Why on earth would anyone give up their weekend to go to a hostel and talk more school-stuff…? Er, me actually. When Sarah and Stephen first shared their idea about putting on an ‘unconference’, I thought it sounded like a genius idea. We’ve all been to countless external training where you are told by a very knowledgeable speaker about what you need to do to make your teaching better and to improve outcomes. Whilst I’m listening to the speaker, I take notes diligently and – if it’s a good speaker – feel inspired to make some changes when I return to school. However, mid-way through the journey home, I start to get this niggling feeling that some of these things might not work for me. This is followed by a feeling that somehow this might be my fault; after all, the speaker is someone worth paying for and they must know what they’re talking about so I should bow down to their more experienced perspective. By the next day when I’m at school, I might try one new thing and the success rate is often 50:50.
Why am I relating my negative experiences? Well, I truly believe that SLT camp will be different. First of all, everyone wants to be there. Secondly, no one is going thinking they have all the answers. Thirdly, everyone has to pitch in somehow, which makes us all responsible for the success of the weekend. This got me thinking about going back to work tomorrow. My experience of the first day back is that SLT members stand up at the beginning and share what they see as the key initiatives for the year, what they are responsible for and what they hope to achieve this year. There is often a lot of jargon and acronyms. Before I became an assistant head, I used to find these first day back rituals really boring. Why? I was so passive. I would sit there, listening to someone else’s ideas and be told what I was going to be doing that year to help the school. All I really wanted to do was be part of our English department’s annual ‘Pimp my planner’ ritual where we would think very carefully about covering our planners in quotations and images.
Returning to SLT camp and the three reasons I mentioned earlier about why it will be such a refreshing experience, I wonder how I can foster that spirit at my school this year to ignite change. Does everyone wants to be there? When I say ‘be there’, I mean be fully committed to coming to school every day and trying to teach the best lessons they can? Does anyone think they have all the answers to making our school a great one? The answer is probably no – although there are lots of different ideas floating around about what might make a difference. How do you accommodate everyone’s views but ultimately be responsible for standing up and saying ‘This is a good idea – let’s go for it!’ Finally, how can we work in a place where everyone genuinely feels responsible for making our school a success? Not by going for a top-down approach.
This year, I hope to ignite a very big change: a mindset change. I want every teacher at my school to become a learning geek; to actively try things out and evaluate what difference they have made to their students; to not see CPD as something done to them but as them being given the space to lead themselves. If you’ve read any of the previous @TeacherTweaks’ blogs, you’ll know that there are some changes ahead this year. We’ve got a staff book club, a teaching and learning notice board, Lead Learners, open classroom weeks and a celebration briefing on a Friday morning to praise our brilliant teachers who go that extra mile. What do all of these things have in common? To inspire teachers to become passionate once again about learning and say no to the negativity that surrounds our profession.
When I go to SLT camp, I want to share ideas and learn from colleagues how to grow other leaders so that there are countless teachers who believe that they can lead others to become the best version of themselves.
Here’s hoping! 75 days to go!
Have a good first week back.