Change the educational landscape – one step at a time…..

Hey there, fellow educators and advocates for change! Mrs U here, and I’ve got some thoughts brewing in my slightly broken teacher heart that I need to share with all of you. I’d love your thoughts and I’d love even more for you to join me…..

Teaching used to be this magical realm filled with laughter, creativity and that raw, ad hoc nature that made every day an adventure. Lately, it feels like we’ve lost that spark. The passion is waning and maybe now it’s time for a revolution in education.

I’ve been mulling over a theory (well several really but here is one to start us off). The key to reviving the passion in teaching lies fundamentally in autonomy and trust. Schools seem to be drowning in ‘managers’ that are highly organised and meticulous (sometimes) in their ability to create ‘visions’, ‘missions’ and never ending educational agendas BUT where are the inspirational leaders (I know they are out there somewhere) who empower others; who straighten the crowns of those around them in order that others may succeed?

We need more collaboration and less unhealthy competition across MATs. In my humble opinion, social media, especially Twitter, has become a minefield of negativity, with influencers who crave attention, often spreading toxicity (whether unintentionally or not). Is this healthy for the future of Education – will this attract graduates and career changers to teaching? Is it really the career it used to be? It is – but with a hell of a lot of tweaks! SO – it’s time to simplify things; to bring back the joy of teaching, to feel excited again, to focus on what the children need and want. To promote, big up, respect, rely upon, celebrate and TRUST happy teachers who love their vocation; who bring every inch of their character and every once of enthusiasm to the children in front of them.

Research backs us up on this. Autonomy and trust are crucial for a thriving educational environment. Too many managers create a system that stifles creativity. We require leaders who have faith in our capabilities, appreciating the significance of simplicity in education. Let’s return to the fundamentals, NOT merely the basics but the true ingredients that make the classroom as SUCCESS; where we can continuously encourage and propel all children to advance from their initial stages, with limitless potential, embracing the essence of sharing information, fostering enthusiasm for learning, exploring historical narratives and marvelling at the wonders of the world. It’s not about endless to do lists, copious amounts of paperwork and meeting after meeting (which could have been a one line email).

Have you noticed the trend of teachers leaving the profession? Shocking hey! It breaks my heart – it truly does! There’s a Facebook page called “Leave Teaching and Thrive?” (I am a follower) with over 130k members (Please note it is SUCH an amazing resource and has helped me no end). But WHY are so many of us feeling defeated? Why are teachers and TAs leaving in droves? Four years ago, I really felt the shift; the negativity seeping into education and I almost turned my back to seek an alternative career. For me, it was no longer the exciting journey it once was (and I’d encountered people that really should not have been in this profession AT ALL – and it was deeply affecting me both mentally and physically. Luckily – you lovely people (almost 80K now) in my screen kept me going – as you have done for over 10 years. I focused on the children, my reason WHY, ensuring that my efforts always got back to them at every single opportunity.

The most recent workforce data from the Department for Education reveals that in the academic year 2021/2022, 39,930 teachers exited the profession for reasons other than retirement. This constitutes approximately 8.8 percent of teachers in the sector, marking an increase from the 7,800 departures recorded in the 2020/2021 academic year. These figures represent the highest levels of teacher departures since the commencement of current census records in the academic year 2010/2011.

Image taken from Twitter. Original source unknow.

The inception of the “Once Upon a Time” initiative is a response to this — a recognition that somewhere along the way, the small yet significant details in education have been lost. We embark on this journey to rectify, to zoom in on the nuances and to reclaim the essence of teaching. Do visit our website here: Once Upon a Time – Home and explore the alliance I’ve formed with the totally incredible Helen Prince from ChatterStars – The Vocab App helping to boost Vocabulary – a true friend and the inspiration behind this movement.

Our mission extends beyond correction; it’s a call to empower our teachers, acknowledging their expertise, placing our trust in their ability to nurture young minds of future generations. At Once Upon a Time, we believe in bringing back the joy, the excitement and the creativity that should naturally accompany the process of learning. So, why “Once Upon a Time”? Because it’s a narrative of reclaiming the heart and soul of education—a story where the small, everyday moments are celebrated, where teachers are trusted as the architects of inspiration and where the journey of learning becomes a thrilling adventure once more.

In a world where the emphasis on standardised metrics and rigid structures has, at times, overshadowed the joy of learning, the “Once Upon a Time” initiative is a deliberate step toward rekindling the magic. It’s about reigniting the spark that comes from imparting knowledge, exploring the wonders of our world and instilling a genuine passion for learning in both teachers and students alike.

It’s a call for change, a return to the days when teaching was amazing, educators were appreciated and our hard work didn’t consume our family lives (and busy minds). I believe it’s possible to reclaim the title of the best job in the world. I really do….

So let’s make teaching right again! Ready to make some noise in education? Let’s flip the script, try out new things, and turn our classrooms into hubs of excitement. Whether you’re unleashing student creativity, teaming up for teaching success, diving into tech adventures, or sharing your own tales, let’s make education a party we all want to attend! It’s time to bring back the passion for working with children – After all, that’s what teaching is all about!

Remember, “Once Upon A Time,” teaching was magical. Let’s make it magical once more!

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