Returning to the chalk face from the magic wand of headship

 

Having failed the auspices of headship in our new education landscape. At the age of 44 my family have faced the very real threat of losing our home. So having begun the recovery from depression, I have this year looked around to try to begin to salvage some resemblance of a career. Despite my utmost depressed efforts. I continue to return again and again to teaching. Having discovered at forty four that I still enjoy being with children and continuing to learn, I made a small decision to ask the local schools in my area if I could help? Madly, and very bravely a head was kind enough to take me up on the offer.

So I returned to a school fallen from Outstanding to Requiring improvement and entered a timetable that offered me fourteen classes and 6 different subjects in a twenty -five period timetable, for eight weeks till the end of term. This timetable provided none of the joys of primary, to get to know a class in detail yet potentially in the later years at the expense of the subject pedagogy. Or the secondary curriculum, which affords you little knowledge of the individual, verses significant knowledge of the curriculum. More classes less subject requirements.

Eight weeks back in the classroom has afforded me the following joys. pain and learning:

 

Joys:

–          Primary students have passion and joy and a love of learning that you don’t have to ignite just continue to allow the embers to burn.

–          Yes, if you really believe they are going to do something students will, but my arrogance, risk taking and the “ok fire me” was needed at times to move my belief to their action.

–          Bloody hell I have been working with significantly below average intakes for so long. Oh my god, we have expected so much from them and achieved. My god if you expect the same degree of movement from an above average child the outcomes can be immense” How the hell do you produce a C from these children?

–          Teachers remain dedicated, resilient and with the best interest at heart.

–          Learning is equally as significant if not more so when you learn with students. Yes, Andrew if you hadn’t guessed I can’t sit in the traditional camp.

–          Thank god I continued to teach throughout my headship because the world of student learning has changed and their receptors are different. If you are in denial you are missing such an amazing ability of students to receive information on so may levels.

Pain

–          As a head teacher I walked into a classroom and children behaved. I used to say to them, “I have no magic wand, you just chose to behave.” This is easy to say and painful to live.

–          How to manage students outside of the mainstream system but living within it.

–          To watch the damage one or two vulnerable children without secure and stable management can have on a system

–          Death by advice.

–          The disconnect between a scheme and the now defunct map of learning which I believe is one significant part of assessment. Random schemes continue with no understanding of what learning looks like.

–          The real pain experienced from significant failure at the age of 11.

–          The workload and purposeless nature of the new primary teacher assessments.

–          The phenomenal drain on resources as change continues without release. This includes a continued number of teachers making the decision, that the joy of the job is now outweighed by the relentless and pointless nature of change.

–          Headship does breed arrogance; I knew this but reality hurts.

–          Teachers can be equally arrogant. Time at a school breeds familiarity and acceptance it does not breed expertise by default.

 

Learning

–          A scheme of work needs to have a concrete foundation where all teachers have a clear understanding of what learning looks like during and post a scheme of work.

–          The current assessment system is bonkers.

–          Why, oh why are any of us putting up with or administering the teacher’s assessments at key stage 2? We are our own worst enemies.

–          Consolidation, the labelling of a school does more damage to the strategy to change then support.

–          Students always want to succeed although sometimes this is buried within.

–          Giving our most vulnerable students the “comfy duvets” in which to hide from work, reduces their capacity to succeed.

–          Listening is key to learning for myself and others.

–          All staff are key to a school. Mid- day supervisors can minimise or maximise the disruption in classrooms the breaks are significant.

–          The foundations of a school remain the calendar and timetable.

–          Leadership leads schools to success or failure.

–          As a head you remain the lead learner. All avenues within the school should support and promote learning.

 

 

 

 

 

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