No to catch up and easy fixes. No to panic and quick wins. It is vital that we do not instil panic in our children and staff. We MUST avoid them feeling like they are ‘behind’. Let’s see where they are. See how they have coped. See what they now need. Let’s make professional judgements – together. With clear intent we will implement in order to make the impact that is needed. Yes, our expectations will remain high – of course we have an important job to do BUT we will do all of this with support and encouragement for ALL at All times. We can do this. We will do it well.
Strong and compassionate Leadership and staff teams will do this well; with grace, with professionalism, with a healthy understanding of what is needed for all involved: staff AND especially the children – no matter what the grading of the school and where it needs to be for Ofsted. There should be NO lesson observations, NO ridiculous staff meetings where 20 things are demanded, NO walk by / drops ins where everything is scrutinised. Just no!
We have three weeks to do this before Easter (If indeed we are back on the 8th). Let there be laughter. Let there be learning. It will happen! As determined and devoted educators, we will ensure that individual children shall flourish – no matter where their starting points. We must thank parents for their support and make that home-school collaboration stronger than ever before (as surely they can now understand a little bit about what we do each day – with 30)! Let’s celebrate and encourage this unity! A little less of the ‘them and us’. Our remit is surely the same now – to ensure that all children are re-engaged with their onward learning journey!
Yes, there is so much to do (SO much) and so much to find out – again I know! But do it the right way and we will see happy, jubilant staff, children and families that want to fill those ‘educational and social gaps’ – at the right pace! We need to ‘top them up’ with the succulent ingredients that they need and at the moment this does not solely mean the academic side of education. They HAVE been educated. Ok. Some more than others and with differing degrees of expertise…. But life is education. Profound even though that sounds – it’s been a matter of weeks. A generalisation maybe, but I am sure they are (mostly) all ‘hungry’ for knowledge, yearning for their friendships, desperate for routines and a change of scenery (although they would hate to admit that).
I do hope that school teams can be proactive and can work with a similar notion of “let’s not run before we can walk”! Don’t put a sticking plaster over this and fix it with a throw away day of well-being activities before suffocating them all with intervention for interventions sake. There will be time for this. But first… build trust again. Let them speak. Let them share. Let them convey their emotions because there will be emotion! In abundance. From ALL parties. And these emotions need careful deconstruction and airing. Staff too are all in such different situations. Be kind – that is all.
I KNOW that we have an agenda and that we need to preempt next years testing (Booooo) and even this years EOY results! I know this and want them to “recover” and be where they should be! They are entitled to this. Yet, I am aware that in order to attempt this, a substantial amount of quality first teaching and learning needs to occur! I know this too. And this will take great time, devotion and a GOOD work ethic. But we need to be wary for the children’s sake. Don’t turn children off of school via rigorous ‘fun free’ lessons and tests that stifle their creativity. Approach this new term with sensitivity: with an air of patience and a flourish of flair and flexibility. Acknowledge their different starting points and celebrate their unique stories. Build upon a sound understanding of where they are RIGHT NOW and take them forward with you on the next part of their learning adventure! Reignite that flame and bring back that passion to learn!
I more than many know how detrimental the wrong approach can be. So let’s unite as a school team. Be open. Delegate. Share. Celebrate the small steps. Acknowledge. Empathise. Understand. BUT also work hard, with diligence and great ambition and knowledge that we can do this – as a team – no one stands alone – unless you are not UP for the challenge! We are teachers and we shape the lives of our students. Because we care. Because it’s more than just a job. We are a misunderstood species who seem to catch the brunt of such intense negativity and backlash – yet we continue! We will rise again – stronger. Wiser. Tougher! Together – Minus any implicit hierarchy and misinformed prejudgments. That’s what GOOD school staff do. That’s what KIND and FAIR people do. And we do it all for the children in our care.
As a proud SLT member of my current school, I will support, praise, question, motivate, challenge, be honest and humble, share ideas, inspire and always, always, always be there for the staff in our team. It should never be them and us. (Although sadly, I know that it often is – which breaks my heart). And in turn, I know that I too also have the support of others in my team. And I greatly appreciate this. Now more than ever. It won’t be easy. But it will be worth it.
And fabulous TEACHERS throughout the land – let’s also UNITE and stick together right now! Let’s support each other and share ideas. Let’s make each other smile through motivating words and kind gestures. Let’s start a never ending Mexican wave of teacher appreciation! Be proud. Be your best self at every opportunity, be the best that you can be for the children that you educate. Our future generations need us!
We can do this. I know we can. For the children. Always for the children. As a dear colleague said to me last week:
The children are our Reason WHY!
The children are our WHY!
Stay safe. Stay positive.