Being Inspired, Enabled and Empowered

25 09 2013

I’ve had an inspiring couple of days, yesterday at my last taught day for the SQH programme and today at SLF.

I have passed all of my written assignments now and just (!) have the VIVA to go, although I am not sure when that will be yet. We spent the first part of the morning preparing for that and then a couple of head teachers spoke to us, which partly reassured me and partly terrified me.

The highlight of the day for me though was two presentations by David Cameron. There were some practical tips on, for example, time wasters but the really inspiring parts were about his own English teacher encouraging him, his views on vision and purpose, and leadership. One example within leadership was that he talked of people needing from leaders certainty, early anticipation and creative responses, clarity of purpose and expectations, cohesion, engagement and direction and support. He also talked about a leader’s need to enable and empower others, which I will come back to later.

I’m not doing justice to the afternoon but suffice to say I would liked to have recorded it to be able to listen back to on hard days!

Now that I have almost finished SQH I have been doing some reflecting on the journey. I think it is only now that I am at this point that I can clearly see how I have developed as a leader over the last 2.5 years (conveniently while also taking on more of a leadership role). Rightly or wrongly during it I was too immersed in trying to do everything to take time to reflect.

I feel I am just developing my ability to enable and empower others to become leaders themselves but it is something I feel passionate about and wrote about in my final assignment:

“This is an aspect of leadership I feel strongly about developing as I have benefited, and progressed, as a result of the support, encouragement and opportunities given to me by my own leaders.”

My current head teacher is all of things I have described above but I would not have got to the point I have without a former head teacher who was all of those things and more. Andrea Reid was my head teacher when I was at Castlefield Primary and it cannot be underestimated how much of an influence she was for me professionally and personally.

Without her passing me an email about an initial study visit way back in 2007 I would not now have spent a total of 3 months in Malawi almost all of which has been spent immersed in rural village life, which led to so much personal and professional development for me.

Without taking up other opportunities I was given I may not have been able to have the chance as acting PT, and it was being asked to lead on Glow within the school, and then being given a talking to when hesitating, that saw me take on a two year secondment to the local authority. I certainly grew from these experiences and they definitely helped me get the PT post in my current school.

Although a challenging and difficult journey at times, that encouragement, and gentle, and sometimes not so gentle, pushing have got me to the point of being a deputy head for almost two years now and near the end of my SQH journey.

I’m stealing a quote here that a friend of mine used in the context of running 24 hour races for Team GB but I think fits well for me on this journey, even if it did not always feel like it at the time!

“Contrary to what we usually believe the best moments in our lives, are not the passive, receptive, relaxing times. The best moments usually occur when a person’s body or mind is stretched to its limits in a voluntary effort to accomplish something difficult and worthwhile.”

My experiences in Malawi and completing my SQH project spring to mind here, as does completing the West Highland Way race last year!

It has been more than just professional though, these events, circumstances and developments have changed me personally too. I know it is cliched but ten years ago if I could have seen myself now I would not have believed how much I could change and grow in confidence.

So, thanks Andrea! So much of my development was as a result of your belief in me (and seeing in me what I had not seen in myself) and I thought it would be nice to acknowledge that, and let you know I am now at the beginning stages of starting to do the same for other people – I hope!

Today I attended two seminars around Human/Children’s Rights Education. The second one was mainly led by a class teacher from Lourdes Primary in Glasgow and a head teacher of 2 primaries within Argyll and Bute. They were discussing projects they had undertaken to do with Human Rights. The enthusiasm and hard work the class teacher had put in was obvious and there were some great ideas for informing others about this, most of which came from the children and included a flashmob in assembly! The head teacher was unequivocal in his belief that this is essential education for children and has the power to change lives. This may have serious consequences such as children coming forward with personal difficulties that require police/social work involvement but it is every child’s right to receive an education about their rights and our responsibility to deliver it.

So when I go back to school tomorrow I’m going to be trying to remember, and act on, my values and vision in education, the purposes of a leader and education and the passion to continue on our Rights Respecting journey! Just some small tasks then!

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