#Nurture1415 It’s been a funny year ….

I I thought I would partake in Nurture14 even though my daily tweets possibly make you all more aware of my thoughts than my closest friends.  It’s Christmas Eve and I’m distracted from both the chocolates and a scantily clad Daniel Craig on the TV to write this… My dedication to the cause has no boundaries ;-

Five positives of the past year

1. The tireless work of my team of warriors was acknowledged! I can not tell you how much I wanted to tell the team that Ofsted agreed that we were a Good School. I didn’t care what anyone else thought but I knew we needed it. The team @wbjjunior exceed my every expectation. I am so proud of everyone’s contribution over the past five years I can not explain.

2. Perspective has changed, accepting others and being happy with yourself is something, I believe, develops as we get older. Realising what is important comes to us through harsh lessons but stays and makes us stronger. I care less about people’s misconceived ideas about who I am or what I do. The question is Am I okay with who am I, am I doing the right thing, behaving in the right manner? As I am the only one who can change me.

3. I have developed some very strong connections with people whom I would not previously have had access to through Twitter. Relationships largely based on my respect and admiration for people who have one desire… To make things better for the children in their care. These connections have reassured me, strengthened me, questioned me but more importantly made me safe in the knowledge that I am not alone in my passion to be better, more , stronger.

4. Having spent much of the year looking for a new house, although I haven’t found the right one I feel the experience has been positive. In an odd way I have found out much about myself through this search. I know I want to live in Cleethorpes… Yes I know I bang on about it like its a Mystical Wonderland… Well it’s not. It is however home, where I feel comfortable. My Dad loved buildings, places, signs ( he was a traditional sign writer) I too feel the need to connect with places and feel a security. The shabby promenades, creaky Pier and fragile shelters hold a fascination and I’m pleased to be still in this locality.

5. It’s been a good year to inspire, my love of music has not been starved. Of course Prince toured. Just the thought makes me smile everywhere. Watching Prince live, for me, is joy itself. Not just due to the exotic, familiar, range of memories it evokes but also to the sheer enjoyment of a man so obsessed with perfection and in love with what he does .. Respect is due. I have also seen many other fabulous artists including Lisa Stanfield , Beverley Craven, Freda Payne, Four Tops, Temptations, Joss Stone …..
Visits around England and my beloved Greece have all enriched and relaxed me, given me fresh inspiration in many areas including design, behaviour and of course cooking.
Five Wishes for the coming year

1. I will this year get back into the routine I love at the gym. 2014 was disrupted in many ways. For many reasons I struggled to keep up usual three times a week …. There will be nothing to stop me. I will attend as it clears my head, makes me feel better, breaks up my day, and of course allows me to eat without so much worry!
2. Of course I want to find a house! I know I’m far too picky but I hope I find somewhere that feels like home. A house I can entertain in, live in and be me in.
3. The team needs to step up to the challenge of further improvement and I need to inspire, drive, encourage and facilitate creativity. My wish is to have to strength to do this and to be what the school needs to keep up the momentum.
4. I wish to laugh, love and enjoy the year. This of course means travelling, cooking, music and friends, high heels, hand bags and general shenanigans.
5. I want to develop professionally .. I don’t want more , more of anything…. Responsibility etc. I want to be better. Develop as a leader and an educator. I want to be a better me.
Last years brief review
1- TRX bands ( epic fail)

2-Delegate and build trust- Big yes but it a broader manner not so narrow, trust… I still look for signs of disloyalty, I’m so much more aware :-/

3-Make time to chat to people- I do, for sure

4-More concerts and live music….loved it !!!

5-5:2….. Sporadically

6-Deal with the Diet Pepsi Addiction (leave the wine one). Dealt with (,a bit)

7-Relax- Does it always need to be perfect? (Possibly yes). I have … A bit

8-Go horse-riding. fAIL

9-Keep cycling, walking…choose the slower option when I can. – big tick

10-Widen the ‘I’ve had an idea circle’- worked a treat….staff always at my door

11-Spend more time with my Mum- doing and enjoying

12-LISTEN— I do, causes more reflection but hey ho

13-Collaborate actively with more schools- where ever I can

14-Cook for more people-invite, enjoy and share- oh yes! Come on over to my place!

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Channeling Julie Andrews ….headteacher style : a few of my favourite things….

I am often asked why I want to be a Headteacher.  So dressed in a green brocade pinafore riding a bicycle down a leafy lane here goes….here are few of my favourite things….

– smiley faces pelting towards me the first day after a holiday anxious to tell me news and sneak a hug.

– sitting quietly at the side of assembly smiling inwardly. God knows how I got here but thank heavens for the privilege.

– walking through my open plan school mid morning feeling the buzz do learning and the excitement of enquiry.

– excited conversations with children about…well anything really.

– seeing children walking to secondary school who used to be with us.  a wild wave, a big smile or a shy raise of the hand…it all brightens my day

– a team member with an idea, any idea, a plan to execute and an excited fizz in their voice – Gold dust.

-summer lunchtimes, children crowded around making daisy chain, plaiting hair into knots and absent mindedly talking honestly, truthfully about what happens in class- insider information at its best!

-realising that the child who came to see me daily has stopped arriving.  Not because I didn’t love seeing them but because they are strong again and don’t need me.

-sitting for hours scrutinising the budget. What can I do with these beans to grow a beanstalk high enough and strong enough to alleviate life’s hardships.

– observing the change in a team members manner, attitude and mood when they get ‘it’ …that special something that makes an inspirational educator.

 

 

New year musings from a beach in Corfu…

The feeling is bliss a comforting, nothing else matters, the warmth of the Mediterranean sun spreading over my skin.  My tummy, hidden since last August, sings with the pleasure of the suns caress.  the well being spreads through my body not unlike the comfort of porridge on a crisp November morning.

This yearly pilgrimage is one of the many tools in my arsenal of weapons against the stress of my day to day life.
The red bejewelled sundress I threw on over my bikini and paired with yoga mat flip flops are a world away from the black dresses and heels I don in the real world.  The contents of my mind different too, now an eclectic mix of new term resolutions, recipes, reflections and of course the immovable ‘What can I do better, differently or more of to improve the life chances and enjoyment of the children in my care?’   I’m a head teacher, slice me anyway, analyse me, catch me in aware; somewhere at the heart of me I am a head teacher and proud of it. How will I be a better head teacher, for the children, the parents and my team?

I agonise over my tough image but I know  without doubt I couldn’t  lead the improvements we have shared over the past five years without being tough. 

those who peer inward at our organisation and claim to know me have no idea. the toughness comes with balance. I care, deeply about the children and my team, not in a sentimental, you can do anything you wish manner but in a joy in their development both professionally and personally (if they wish to share ) and a desire to empathise with the issues they are dealing with. 

We return to our school with a renewed sense of passion.  I feared for us six months ago.  I saw my team putting in 100% everyday.  The sparkling amongst them (there are lots)  from all areas of my team were relentless in their ‘I have an idea moments’ hovering in my doorway ready to feed the hunger of our school development.   it was however becoming hard to continue with the positive affirmation of ‘ We’re doing brilliantly’ as we were waiting for Ofsted and horror stories were relentless.  my young but oh so talented team were, at times, scared and although I tried desperately to act the swan, as they say, I too was scared not of being judged but the injustice, the lottery of Ofsted.  An eight week illness knocked me out.  I went to school daily but I was sick, an alien concept for me, I could sense fear.  If I wasn’t in top form how could I manage the Ofsted.  our progress is great, teaching consistently good-outstanding and results are still rising over the last five years but working in the highest deprivation area in Cleethorpes in that rare entity ‘ a junior school’ in an area were not being an academy leaves you vulnerable we had some issues to contend with. Cleethorpes has a recruitment issue to put it mildly, we therefor grow our own and we’ve grown some crackers.  With a firm commitment to CPD and coaching it all takes time though.

In June recovered from the worst of my illness with several  series of antibiotics, eyed drops, a closing down of everything but work we had Ofsted.  Literally we ‘had’ them , like a gang fight on the streets of Grimsby. my team gathered, rallied and made me glow with pride so bright Gove would have seen it from which ever stone he was hiding under. 

So instead of laying on the beach wondering how I can protect my 300 from a possible defeat at the hands of Xerxes /Ofsted. (Although Rodrigo Santoro in school is not something to be sniffed at!)  I am considering how to rally for the next assault on misconceptions and stereotypes.

2014/15 holds promise, it holds hope. I am renewed and excited My team is reflecting that they feel the same optimism. The coaching and enthusiasm of an ethos of trust and honesty is now paying dividends.  a TA emailed yesterday while I was on the beach ‘ just an idea” but he ended the message with ‘have a good holiday, it’s going to be a great year!’     The positivity and coaching flows both ways and a appreciate this greatly. It balances the barrage of issues to be dealt with.

So how to make an impact? It is somewhat bizarre to consider time management in a two week hiatus of diary less bliss but much of my life’s effectiveness relies on military style calendar coordination.  Gym sessions are non negotiable, not because I believe in the body beautiful but for the two hour sessions away from questions spent with my men ( Luther, Stevie, Usher, Prince Johnny Gill) I’m sure we must be on first name terms by now as they’ve sung to me so often! What is under scrutiny is how I spend my time in school. I need to listen more, be still more, ready to receive questions, ideas and worries.  So many of my conversations start with the other person saying ” I know you’re busy but…’ I must alleviate their concern with more conviction.  Give the impression I am not pressured even though I know I will be.  How I do this I am not sure.  The building of a smart middle leadership I am hoping will help.  The widening of my circle of trust too.  I have in the past relied too exclusively on just the closest to me this has proved to be a mistake.  Deep breath= Trust, this team I have are the elite… I need to let them in.

With such a job to do in 2009, a school threatening special measures, I was spread thin and allowed only my inner circle to take the reins on sections one developments , we had a high percentage of eye rollers and tutters ( all now departed for more negative water) Time to trust again.

It is time to return to basics I feel. I wish to reconnect with the engine of our machine. The link between inspirational teaching and data.  More time in the classroom watching, reflecting and celebrating inspiration and a heads down to analysing data.  I have a great assessment coordination doing a brilliant job but I want to drive the F1 car not just go to Monaco, no scrub that, I want to go under the bonnet and tinker!  

I want to reconnect with the team and get to know the new members, we have a new teacher on September who trained with us last year I will mentor him I think. Two new TAs and 2 leaning mentors also worth coaching into the team.  whilst I have always encouraged a layer approach I want it straight from the horses mouth this year, what  are their reflections the school team and practices.  How could I improve on this?

The team is fiercely loyal and protective, like me, his is not always the best position from which to suggest change.  I need to reconnect and shake up some of my own misconceptions. It of course goes without saying that continuing to learn from others is a priority.  The wise clever leaders of twitter that in one tweet can have me reflecting for days are a key ingredient for me.  I often feel unworthy of being in their twitter community but I am, as ever, grateful to be tolerated.

However more frivolous concepts also have been considered and debated whilst I bake and dip on the beautiful island of Corfu.

Yesterday whilst swimming out to the buoy I considered Thai food and this floated around my head until by the time I left the beach I resolved to cook Thai when returned. In the villa I found a book on amazon and this will be an enjoyable adventure in my favourite genre: cooking. 

A second resolution ( I make mine in the summer as the academic diary rules my life) is to fin a house I love equally to the one I’m in now and make it my home.  The addition of a little space will make life easier and enable me to enjoy my lifestyle I have cultivated. This fills me with excitement as it a long time since I’ve changed something so key in my home life and I find it reassuring that not everything has to be about school.

The third resolution I’m ashamed to say is one failed a few times already. the TRX bands at the gym must become part of my regime. I have failed on this before and I do have a few excuses none of them point to much other than laziness and it hurts! ( my soft abs not my conscience)        A) I am embarrassed to do them with the eyes of the gym watching (a Friday morning session will be added from September)

B) I’m not sure I’m doing it right  ( I’ll get a refresher training when I get back)

C) It hurts my tummy which I only reveal for two weeks of the year so who cares- Not me until said two weeks it seems!

Lastly I have decided that my life is not complete without the purchase do three items

1.the red work bag I’ve been eyeing up

2.The nude wedges in Dune

3.The spaghetti dryer the Kitchen aid makes

These are not rational and I’m sure at least two will be shelved before I even step off the plane.

Always in my hair

The man in front of me is stood, legs wide, on top of a Cadillac car. On hands and knees on the bonnet is a tall girl with an afro, back seductively arched staring up in admiration at the genius who has ’88 scrawled across his back of his turquoise suit jacket and the word PRINCE running from his thigh to the top of his high heeled suede boots.
I am captured by his energy, his music, his sentiments. Last Friday May 23rd 14 I was once again captured, the same man, some of the same songs, all of the same feelings. Of course there are differences. Now each of the hits means something to me, a place, a time in my life, a reason for reflection. It could be said that this genius musician has provided (but not in isolation) the background music for my life. The music I have listened to danced to, cried to, laughed to through my life.
In the 20 plus years and the 80 plus Prince Concerts I’ve attended in between there have been major changes in me but also I see that core traits remain. Standing, bathing in the atmosphere, music and memories I considered writing something down.
The best friend I attended the first concert with is still my best friend. My character, essentially, remains the same. I am strong, determined, fiercely independent but loyal and demanding of loyalty. I still enjoy solitude almost as I enjoy raucous laughter, dancing and silliness with friends. Then I was of course still at school, now I’m the Head of a school coincidently within sight of my old Comprehension school.
How did I get from there to here and am I happy? Without a doubt I have carved the life I love and lead. My passion for education drives me to withstand the intense distrust I have of a system that undermines, disempowers and stifles the brave and great educators that I meet daily. Ofsted is indeed the great demon in a magical world of creativity and dream making.
The town I always thought I’d leave has now such memories that I seek to move closer to the moody sea and the shabby architecture of the worn seaside haunt.
Music, vibrant experiences and above all people make my life. Life is an adventure. Music as anyone who knows me will attest to is essential for me to survive. The creativity my father passed on which saw me enjoying art in my younger days now seeps out in other more practical ways.
I’m not sure other than my usual reflective rambling I am seeking to find, other than an embracing of core traits, desires and likes that are the foundation to which we can, if we choose, build our lives.

#nurture13/14

I have been persuaded that a blog is the done thing to round off the year so despite being ‘a tough nut to crack’ here goes…my first blog.

13 of the puzzle pieces which have made up my year in no particular order.

1. Music, I can not exaggerate the influence that music has had and continues to have on my life.  I adore the richness, the feeling of going on a journey with the artist, being wrapped in the velvet tones of a singer and finding empathy in the thoughts of another so eloquently expressed.  I encourage music at school and this year have managed to employ a music specialist who shares my passion and it has made my heart happy to see the children absorbing the opportunities and experiences this has led to. I have continued to explore the genres I love and see live musicians whenever possible from the wonderful Jazz Trio at the local club to mega stars in towns far away.

2.Collaboration in school is beginning  to pick up we are training with a local school next week and the discussions I’ve had with educational practitioners either in the flesh or through the wonderfully supportive Twitter network have challenged and redirected my thoughts more times than I can remember. 

3. The Raise in PAN and accompanying building work and growth in staff numbers this year has created a set of puzzles all of its own.  The dynamics of the staff has changed and this has required a lot of work with the team.  The building work… well quite frankly has required lots of chocolate and wine to ease my nerves.  The influx of children form different school who often couldn’t settle in other schools has ensured that our Pastoral Team has been tested but thank goodness, no where near to their limit.  I am very proud of the schools responsiveness and change management. 

4. The Gym! My haven, bolt hole and place of supreme calm.  Nothing clears my head like working out so hard I can barely move in the comfort of my music zone.  Earphones on, music pumping… Stevie Wonder, Prince, Craig David, Mary j Blige, Luther, Usher… an endless list of stress busters.  This is where I rediscover me and refresh, reflect, re think and walk out ready to smile another day.

5. Middle leadership  We have finally managed to establish a strong Middle leadership. Three ladies who I am so excited about. Got them in place, given them resources and support and now I can not wait to see them do their stuff..

6.Travel in 2013 has been perfect… as well as the usual delights of York and London and other English beauties I was blown away by a trip to Barcelona in Easter and of course the beautiful Island of Rhodes was added to my list of places I love.  Summer holidays swimming in the sea, eating fish and drinking barrel wine is essential.

7. Much of my time is spent reflecting and theorising, I love time alone and enjoy silence above all.  This Is what my friends know of me… the public face is very different.  A local authority advisor once described be as the ‘loudest person he knew’ and whilst this is true when I am defending my school, family or friends I smiled a smile to myself and thought ‘You know nothing of me’ Which is just how I want it to be.

8. Unfortunately I am very shallow I love sparkly, shiny, beautiful things. handbags, shoes, pretty nails, jewellery and even nice pads or pens….I would like to be practical but this is me or at least a side of me… silly, girly and impractical. So yes I have obtained some beautiful ‘stuff’ this year that makes me smile.

9. Baking and Cooking has had a particularly high profile in my year.  I cook and bake with joy.  Nothing beats Sunday morning in my kitchen dressed in pyjamas , dancing around to the radio with bread proving, scones in the oven and baklava under construction.  It is not only a wonderful process, creating from a group of ingredients but also a great act of nurturing to feed those who are special to me.

10. Trust and the many layers has caused me concern in 2013.  I had grown complacent, forgot to test the boundaries.  February saw someone whom I had invested much in leave the school, this I admit cased me to relook at things and I felt guilt at an appointment which I then saw was not right and a breech of trust from the person. Later in the year the issue of trust arose again and this time it cut deep.  I feel that the process of coming through this has been instrumental in strengthening me as a leader and although it was painful it was necessary and I feel better placed and experienced because of it. Steven Covey ‘The speed of trust’ was my councillor.

11. Friends   I have the most beautifully diverse group of friends from those who drink wine with me, to those that send a brief message at the exact moment I need that message to those that I am appalled at (as they do what I would not dare and get away with it)  I laugh , cry, dance, sing, eat and reflect with my friends.  I love them all dearly and know that I need them as I much as oxygen.

12

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No words… just Ollie!

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Next Year…in summary

1-TRX Bands (Oh Yes!)

2-Delegate and build trust

3-Make time to chat to people

4-More concerts and live music

5-5:2

6-Deal with the Diet Pepsi Addiction (leave the wine one)

7-Relax- Does it always need to be perfect? (Possibly yes)

8-Go horse-riding

9-Keep cycling, walking…choose the slower option when I can

10-Widen the ‘I’ve had an idea circle’

11-Spend more time with my Mum

12-LISTEN

13-Collaborate actively with more schools

14-Cook for more people-invite, enjoy and share

Done…