A blog of 3 parts: Turbulence, core values and when it's time....


Turbulent is probably the best word to describe the last year and a half of my life, professionally and personally. I returned to FT work in July 2016 following mat leave with excitement and anticipation for the year ahead as I had been given an unofficial promotion (by this I mean triple workload and same TLR) but I was excited as it felt like the first step on the way to an SLT post. Needless to say with a toddler at home who became increasingly poorly as winter came I realised that I couldn't manage with the challenges at home and the challenges at work, in fact I felt I should have been stronger when given the "promotion" and asked for less of a teaching timetable/more support. I became increasingly stressed and felt more and more out of control which lead to feelings of anger/frustration as the people who were meant to be leading and supporting were in fact undermining and moving goalposts with little/no communication. All this whilst I felt I was doing everything in my power to support those I was responsible for and remain positive in face of budget cuts and increased workload for all. I almost quit teaching altogether. In my personal life I was battling post natal depression and dealing with my little (wonderful-amazing) boy who developed some health issues which required some hospital stays (inc critical care), a&e trips and three specialists. Trying to open professional dialogue to discuss the moving goal posts and miscommunication at school were often met with negative comments on my personal life and left me with feelings of inadequacy, self doubt and anxiety. This gives you a flavour of what I mean when I say turbulent.

Now for core values, I strongly and firmly believe in the power of relationships and their effect on each of us. I unapologetically set high expectations for myself and my students, and I expect this of those I work with. Richard Branson's quote: "train people well enough so they can leave, treat them well enough so they don't want to" has always resonated with me, particularly as my role has been teacher training for a few years now. I believe that if you want to train people well then you need to give them time to do it, that means observe, practice and reflect then repeat. Time and support being crucial factors. So when earlier this year decisions were made without discussion and I was told to put things into place that seriously compromised my ability to train staff effectively, to give them the time and support to develop into the fantastic practitioners I knew could be in their future I resigned. I will not compromise my beliefs and my core values that are students deserve the best teaching and learning which only comes from teachers who have had sufficient time and support to be their best. Short term goals of getting timetables filled and looking after budgetary demands maybe at the heart of those decisions and I appreciate the challenges that school leaders have in terms of recruitment, especially under the considerable strain of the tightening budgets. However, for me, our children's education should not be compromised.

I am lucky to have found an exciting new position, a side step really, in a new school that will give me the breadth of experience I need to be able to continue working towards my SLT aspirations. And as I start to think forward I have also reflected back on the people that my anger and frustration of the last year has been focused on and realised, with a heavy heart, that they probably did not mean to be unsupportive, unkind, uncommunicative and disconnected, they just don't know any better. Perhaps their core values and ethos led them to make the decisions they did and say the things they did, maybe they believe they have the students best interests at heart and I wonder if they were also having a turbulent year. What I do know is that when the leaders of the school demonstrate actions which are continuously and persistently at odds to your core values then it is time to move on.

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Samantha-louise J

Samantha-louise J

Teaching & Learning geek, Design & Technology Teacher, aspiring SLT

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