What have you learnt in the last 30 days?
Over the past 30 days, my work in education has shifted and my focus on driving good teaching and learning into schools to reducing teacher workload and increase impact on learning is obsessive as ever. Here are some of the key thoughts that are shaping my current work with schools and organisations across the UK.
1.Context is king
Regardless of your position of work in education, it is vital to remain honest, supportive and considerate of what other people are doing in sector. Working within a challenging school is rewarding, although there are as many challenges working in other settings.
2. Teaching is transferable
The complex body of knowledge and skills you learn as a teacher enables one to use these skills outside of school / education. I’ve already seen this from the network of professionals coming together to lead teacher training events alongside me. What is clear, is that 1,000s of teachers are working in very difficult circumstances; some are bullied and victimised and I want to use my platform to expose this leadership, disguised as ‘raising standards’ in some cases.
3. Keep ‘continued’ in professional development
Training teachers is a privilege. It is vital that it is done right, particularly in a climate with increasing accountability and growing mental health issues. With reducing funds, it is more important that schools place professional development as a top priority – and seek good value and long-term impact. Sadly, this is not the case in every school.
4. One-off CPD
Having to pitch a CPD presentation to a classroom / conference / group of educators you have never met is a real challenge. This is easy to achieve in your own setting, but much harder from one setting to another.
5. Perspective is important
Working in other schools is an eye opener. It is at odds for me to write this, but working as an OfSTED inspector I would assume, allows one to garner another perspective of schools. It is a shame that teacher and school leadership development does not place ‘visiting other institutions’ as a top priority for all. I’ve learnt more about the world of education in the last 30 days than I would be able to admit over the past number of years!
6. Teaching is complex
Teaching is complex and there is no one size fits all. Context is key and nothing works everywhere. It is important that we all remember this, particularly when the Government seek to impose new policies.
7. England can learn from Scotland
Scottish teachers do not have the same pressure as English teachers; there is no focus on data, external league tables and grading teachers. A qualified profession is the benchmark and a coaching methodology is very much part and parcel of everyday work. However, Scottish teachers face the same issues as most, high workload and long hours.
8. Primary teachers are amazing
Primary schools are amazing places to work. Having spent my entire career in secondary schools, observing primary teachers at work and the challenges that they face, are equally complicated and rewarding.
9. Independent schools
Just because the independent sector relies on fees from parents, does not mean these schools are without its challenges. Classes may be smaller, but often the vast majority of cash is deployed on staffing and maintenance. It is surprising to observe, that the quality of teaching one would expect to see would should be higher, but in reality the quality is often the same and what parents ‘could actually be paying for’, is to have their child taught away from complicated and crowded state schools.
10. Continue to inspire others
If people inspire you, use this energy to go on and inspire others. I’ve just finished reading a number of books – blogs to follow – but one stand out read is ‘Simple Thinking‘ by Richard Gerver. In the book Gerver says: “make sure you programme your own satellite navigation system rather than letting someone else do it for you.” Be inspired by others, but use this to inform your own passion and energy.
11. Believe in your moral compass
Don’t accept work that is not in your interests – trust your instincts – and follow your moral compass. I’m glad I’ve learnt this valuable lesson very early on into the academic year. You cannot please everyone and it’s important to agree a clear objective and outcome before starting any partnership work.
12. Choose your version of success
No matter what you do, where you are going or what floats your boat, success is what you make it.
Here are a range of photographs; working with various schools and organisations, plus some of the people I have met.
If you are interested in working with me, get in touch.
- Distance travelled: 4,932 miles
- Locations: Malaga, Hull, Hounslow, Cambridge, Golders Green, Hammersmith, Uffculme, Bristol, Paddington, Edinburgh.
- No. of schools visited: 7
- No. of training events / conferences / keynotes: 13
- Impact on teachers: ~350