Looking back at #Nurture1415 and #Teacher5aday posts from this time last year; 2015 has been a good year in so many ways. Whilst not everything has necessarily gone to plan or moved forwards I don’t think they’ve gone too far backwards either, despite how it sometimes feels.
My work life balance definitely took a step forward in 2015 and I’m hopefully an easier person to be with and better leader for it. The twin mantras to “live a little more and work a little less” and “do less better” aren’t exactly embedded in my life but they’re having an impact. The family have moved on this year; whilst missing them around the house it was right and timely that they did. I’ve managed to meet more wonderful people from social media, spoke at a few events, visited some very different schools and learnt loads along the way.
This time last year we had sold our house and were looking to move; don’t ask we will be trying again in 2016. Our education system hasn’t become anymore authentic; there are some great things going on in many schools and some total madness in the system overall. There are some tough years ahead.
Time to #Connect Personally and Professionally
The comings and goings of family life and family members is brought home vividly and poignantly in John Tomsett’s wonderful book, Love over Fear, which I was re-reading at the start of the holiday prior to discussing it with the leadership team in January. John writes about the death of his father at a time the parabolic journey of young adulthood took him furthest from the family home. He regrets not being there at the moment his father died. A father’s joy at seeing his children make their own way in the World means so much; the invisible bonds of love stretch beyond sight and reach. We’ll need to continue to connect as a family during 2016 as the parabolic journey of our twentysomething children and the graceful aging of our parents creates more change for us.
Professionally there will be new opportunities, there always is. I’m looking forward to working with some great colleagues as part of @HeadsRoundtable and for ways to link or support the work @WomenEd is doing. As times get tougher politicians tend to listen a little more and there will be opportunities to influence at a policy level; being better connected together as a profession and better connected with political decision makers will be part of the challenge this year. Visiting other schools and linking up with @CarlJavis_Eos and the fascinating work he is doing are pretty much givens for 2016. Possibly a strange one, reconnecting with the staff across the three academies is also something I’ll need to work harder at. Apart from the engagement through professional development programmes I feel a bit more connected to none than connected to all. Time to turn this round whilst making sure I respect the position and authority of the head teachers.
Time to #Notice Life’s Blessings
It isn’t simply a question of mindset noticing life’s blessing; some people have more difficult and challenging lives but just about everyone can find moments of joy to celebrate. A couple were saving a bottle of Bollinger Champagne for a special occasion. Before they found their special occasion the husband died and they never shared the bottle and magic moment together. I have a tendency to think about and plan for the future a bit too much; an occupational hazard.
Bought for my 50th birthday, presented by the staff at morning briefing, we have been looking for a special occasion to open the bottle of Bollinger; the occasion found us in terms of a family Christmas together. The Bollinger was a 1996 Grande Annee. I’ve not much knowledge of champagne and not really a taste for it but this was beautiful. A quick Google search and I realised what a very special bottle it was. Slowing down isn’t about greater lethargy rather the opportunity to notice more things; things to appreciate and celebrate especially when they involve other people or collective achievements.
I hope this year to find more of the metaphorical Bollinger moments and I also hope you do to. May 2016 be a Grande Annee for you and your loved ones. If you’re working in education better get ready for a white knuckle ride.
Good to see you faced a more balanced year Stephen.
I found your reflections about leading the MAT and feeling less connected very interesting. I think the role of Exec Head must be very different to the Head of a single school, both in practical terms but also emotionally. It made me think about getting Toyota way and how the leadership remain strongly connected to the frontline to ensure they are in touch with the real developments of their business. I have been thinking a great deal about the lessons from business (of course, the school system is becoming more business-like with such models) and I intend to blog on it at some point, as well as thinking about how it might inform evidence-informed leadership training. It appears like you are living the merging of a school community with a more strategic business model. I’ll be interested to consider your next steps once you reflect on it.
Best wishes in 2016. Hopefully we get to bump into one another and have a chat.
Thanks for the comment Alex; spent most of the past 18 months just describing the new role as “odd”. Your point about connection to the front line is spot on and something outside of working with staff on CPD I’ve lost a bit. Need to make sure I reconnect more and have a few ideas for the year ahead.
Have a wonderful 2016 and hope we do have the opportunity to catch up.
Good to hear you felt pleased with how 2015 had gone, Stephen, especially with respect to finding a healthy and sustainable balance in your life. The very best wishes for an even better 2016!
May there be plenty of champagne moments! My champagne story is that we were given two good bottles when we got married, and the following year I started to apply for Head of English posts. Every time I went for an interview, my husband put one of the bottles in the fridge. Every time I came back, having been unsuccessful, often in tears, he had to smuggle it out of the fridge, back upstairs and under the spare room bed without me seeing it…
It took me nine attempts! When we finally opened that bottle John said he was starting to be concerned it might be vintage by the time we did!
Hope to see you again soon.
Love the Champagne story. See you soon.