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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Mash up

30 09 2008

I don’t really know where to begin today! 

Excited first of all as I got a text today from the head teacher of my school in Malawi today saying they had received and given out all of the photos and letters I had sent out during the middle of August.  Then when I got home from Body Attack (I don’t know how anyone can’t love exercise if they try Attack!) there was an envelope from Malawi, one of many that I had left stamped and addressed to me, with letters from each of the teachers inside telling me all about what they had been doing since I left.  It’s hard to know how much they are actually doing of what they say but I will give them the benefit of the doubt!

Apparently puncuality is better and they are using all of my strategies for that, they are using my new timetables and the composite class are still working together and it is a lot better.  They are improving in mental maths, thinking critically, marking each others work, using the ball and number fans etc for active learning.  I had totally forgotten till it was mentioned that I had bought about 100 red pens in Dedza and passed them onto the depute at the inservice training for peer marking as the kids had thought if they were doing that they would have to provide their own red pens and they really wanted to use red to see what the corrections were etc. 

Even if not all of this is being done how, or as much, as we might do it just to know that they are still trying and that they are obviously very keen to keep contact is so rewarding.  I am in the process of beginning to officially link Castlefield Primary with this school and I now think it will work really well.  I can’t wait to go back next year!!!!  One of the questions from one teacher was ‘Can’t you change your mind to come here again?’ and she finished by saying I wish you could come back again very soon!

There was also a card for my brother that had got missed when I was given the other ones, so now I can give the one to my sister-in-law as well that I had been keeping back as I would have felt bad only giving one to her!

I feel I have missed the boat with writing anything much about SLF now, I enjoyed a weekend in Aberdeen with 4 very special kids instead.  One thing to mention about that is that I took them to see The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas and I would highly recommend it.  The kids were p.7, 2nd year (those 2 had read it in 1st year and done a lot of work on it) and 4th year and they all really enjoyed it and thought it was very well done and true to the book as did I.  The only thing would be I would say the ending was more graphic/real than I expected, I do not think the book goes into that much detail and some kids might find that upsetting.  It was the longest silence I have heard, or not heard, at the end of a film in ages but considering the most recent trips I can remember have been to see Sex and the City and Harry Potter that is not surprising!

So back to SLF and all I will say is I really enjoyed although it was a totally different experience for me as I was on the SLC stand quite a lot and seeing it from a new angle.  I felt I did a rubbish presentation in the Glowing Lounge but I was last and most things had been said before me, and anyway according to Andrea I did okay (as her adopted daughter!).

I signed up for TeachMeet and to go out for dinner after and this was a big deal for me as I may have done loads of things recently, like go to Malawi for 5 weeks with strangers, but I still felt I was going to be shy and awkward with all of these people I only knew from blogs.  Luckily Jaye was going as well and looked after me!

She and I both had to disapear off quickly on the Thursday to the next part of our Leadership and Management in Education course, of which we are now doing the second compulsory module.  After a late night on the Wed night at the above ‘Local Government in Context’ was not perhaps the most exciting topic for 3 hours after driving up to Hamilton and it’s fair to say I struggled a bit!  I am enjoying the course in general though and spent my holiday Monday in my pyjamas writing my assignment (I eventually got dressed at 6.45pm to go to the running club, how shocking is that, but at least it was not to go to the pub!)  I will write a bit more about that shortly – just letting my proof reader look over it just now – but it is basically a self-reflection of your career and practice so far and an action plan to follow on from that.  Followed by a critical evaluation of a leadership article but I am putting that bit off!  As Andrea Reid’s adopted daughter I have to say that she features heavily in what I was writing in my reflection as I can honestly say I would not be the person I am today, and that is professionally and personally, without her support/guidance/pushing/mentoring/everything really.  And I have only known her 3 1/2 years!