This week one of my core beliefs about leadership has been challenged in a way I never imagined possible. To paraphrase Carl Jung: “We do not have to be a product of our genes or our experiences. …
One of the immense benefits of having a grandparent less than an hour and a half away is the opportunity to actually have a break from children during half term. I love children, especially my own. However, being able to have one or two days where I can miss them, is actually healthy.
I have had the chance to talk to my husband and spend time with him, without having to keep one eye and ear atuned to what my girls are up to. I don’t have to read through countless redrafts of their 500 words entries nor do I have to follow them with a dustpan and brush while glitter and sparkly things drop on my carpet after a craft activity in a different part of the house.
This said; I miss them. Even after only two or three days away. I enjoy their company and chatter; even though my 9 year old talks so fast I have to ask her to repeat herself constantly.
One of the main things I enjoy about collecting them at the end of their allotted break is finding out what they have done, how many DVDs they have consumed, the experiences they have gained, and on this occasion, the terms they have left behind.
So, thank you Nana for giving me the break I needed and I’m sorry you have been left with a cold you didn’t have last week.
I finished my term and have had chance to recharge my batteries, a little. I now turned my attention to the next big challenge, aside from trying to sort out three cupboards full of school resources! I need to get back I to training for my 10k; the longest run I have ever signed up for. I’m nervous, mainly because I have realised how my running ability drops off. I was so busy with the end of term and exam marking that I didn’t make time to run, I thought it would be ok to pick it up in a few weeks or so. Please, if you aspire to run, never go that long without getting out. I have gone so far backwards that my little toddle around the block now needs genuine effort!
I’ll get back to it, but I will have to work hard in the next few weeks and really stick to my ‘Summer holiday run streak’…let me know if you are doing anything mad over the break!
My daughters have today been at a singing festival. They have been practising for ages and were prepared well. Unfortunately, my 8 year old has had a ‘poorly’ throat and we had said that we might decide to say that she was going to pull out. She rested (as much as a boisterous young girl can) and yesterday we said that she could take part.
The girls had entered two main classes, with my eldest doing an additional Unaccompanied folk song class. They both performed well, but on the day my 6 year old gained 3rd place in both classes, complete with certificates, and my 8 year old wasn’t placed at all. She immediately dropped her shoulders, dropped her head and her mood plummeted along with it.
As a mum, I am immediately filled with guilt; should we have stopped her from performing because we knew she wouldn’t have been able to gain a place? Should we have prepared her more for the fact that she might not do as well this week as she did gaining a 1st and 2nd in her dance festival last week? And what about my other daughter, her achievement completely overshadowed by the failure of her big sister?
My eldest has had the biggest lesson today that I think she has ever had. How do you deal with failure and rejection? How do you bounce back? How do you realise that sometimes what you do just isn’t what others expect ‘the best’ to be?
I asked her what would happen if she only failed in something when she was grown up? Her answer encouraged me: ‘it would be harder’. I continued the conversation by asking why it would be harder, ‘because we wouldn’t have had any practise at doing it’.
Can you imagine the number of adults who struggle to deal with rejection and failure; in job interviews, in relationships, in competitions and other life event, simply because they have not had enough practise of dealing with this type of disappointment?
I am so proud of my daughters. I am especially proud of my 8 year old, who, when faced with rejection and defeat has been able, in just 3 short hours, to become philosophical and see it as character building. The old phrase ‘Whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger’ is a cliché but has a grounding in truth. For my daughter, she is growing into a young lady who can deal with defeat and rejection and not get swallowed up in it.
I can’t wait to meet her when she is 25.
I love writing my blog but sometimes other things take over. I have been honing my hair styling technique this weekend as my eldest daughter participates in her first dancing festival. She is so independent. It made me think of school. I spend all my time attempting to train my students to think for themselves; to make their own choices. I have a variety of differentiated tasks which they can choose, allowing them the chance to take a little more control of their own learning. So why is it, when my 8 year old daughter is getting ready for her dancing festival, I am anxious and want to take over? I am sat here, watching as she has applied foundation and is now carefully applying eye make up. It would take me less than 5 minutes, but, and here is the teaching point, I would have to take those 5 minutes every time she needed it. This way means that we spend 20 minutes now but gradually build up to when she can do this, and anything else without assistance.
Sometimes the role of the teacher isn’t planning and doing more and more. It is sometimes gradually doing less and less. A gentle releasing of the support, the hand supporting the bicycle, so our young people can manage by themselves.
The art of the teacher is being able; with the use of data, awareness of the criteria and knowledge of the individual student, to be able to anticipate and predict when to let go and when to grab them. Sometimes we have to support, sometimes (in rare situations) a controlled failure or fall can be effective.
I have just watched my daughter plaster lipstick all over herself. The only question I asked was if she looked like a dancer. She has asked for help.
We have to differentiate, but if students think everything is going to be easy to understand without them thinking too much; then we are setting them up to fail. League tables can only judge academic progress, a school’s reputation is built on that and everything else.
My daughter has never done a dance festival before, she is excited, I am nervous but I am also proud of her growing indepence.
Addendum…she came first in her category!
Every year, around the 3rd week in January our entire family embarks on the tradition that is the seasonal pantomime. We go to ground from Monday to Saturday evening, thinking only of the performance.
My husband is a musical director, so our household starts hearing tunes from about October. He puts a lot of work into arranging and sorting music so it fits the script. There are creative team meetings, where the decisions about script, music, costumes, setting and scenery are discussed and ironed out. If you have never been part of a production then you will have no idea how much is done even before the script is sent out to learn!
One of those backstage jobs is the one I’m doing this year. I am the Children’s licensing officer. That means that every young person involved in the show on stage has to have a performance licence. Once that paperwork is out if the way, I sort out the chaperone rota. Last year I was a principal and had to learn lines, music and moves as well as doing all the other backstage stuff. This year I’m focussing on one job!
Sunday is the ‘Tech’, actors do everything on stage but have to wait for light and sound cues to be set. It can be a long day. But from page to stage it’s an amazing process. Monday will be the dress rehearsal. This will involve the whole company, running through the entire show. Everyone steps up a gear and this is when we start to spot the magic.
I have always enjoyed the pantos. I think my husband has been involved for the last 5 or 6 years. My daughters for at least 4 years. I follow behind!
Now, the biggest thing for me is the amount of juggling I have to sort with school work this week. I will spend all Sat and Sun arranging all my resources so I can simply email them to reprographics and collect when I need them. My students will do Green pen self and peer assessments to keep up to speed on their marking and I will juggle everything else. I am just blessed with a husband who likes to cook and can keep the laundry under control! Well, we are doing Aladdin! Oh yes we are!
Mock exams. The very name suggests that we are simply laughing at the lack of effort so many students have made over the Christmas break to prepare for their forthcoming practice exams. The mocks. When I was a student we took our mocks seriously. We were told the mark would be sent to the exam board as part of our predicted grade and we would have to sacrifice our Christmas holidays to do the very best we could at this point. I was saved the pain of my English exams, because, as I was the third year of GCSEs we were doing 100% coursework. No final exam needed. Can you imagine it? Not any more.
So as of Monday our year 11 students are on Mock study leave in order to do mock exams. They are now beginning to understand. They had a briefing on Friday and sat in shock as they were informed that they weren’t allowed to take bags, coats, phones or any device into the exam hall. They were enlightened as to what the definition of ‘Communication’ was. But, they were also informed that if they so chose to, they were allowed to leave the school site when they didn’t have any exams. The most exciting point apparently being that they can have lunch at KFC without trying to ‘Jump fence’ – freedom indeed. Mock exams have suddenly allowed a degree of freedom that more than makes up for the 5 hour Art exam several students have to wade through.
I am looking forward to the marking…no hint of irony. My year 11s have worked hard; with the exception of Christmas. They have come to lunch boosters; they have engaged in exam question preparation. They have created their own reading questions based on articles and we have analysed the conventions of numerous writing formats, language for audiences and they can detect the purpose of a text from about 20 paces.
So why am I nervous? It’s always the same. I drum the info in and pull the knowledge out. The students prove they can do it, but, just as when my daughters were learning to take their first independent steps; I am still concerned that my students will falter. They won’t, at least not in the Summer. The mocks might be a different story. I can but wait. But in the meanwhile the mocks stare at me, mocking.