Saturday saw me driving to Mansfield at the crack of dawn to support the #WomenEd #LeadMeet that one of our new Regional Leaders, Natalie Aveyard, had offered to host and organise. I had supported the curation and was really excited about the line up, despite being knackered after a long week with visits to London, and a late night on Friday in Swindon for the RWBA Empowering Young People to Change the World Conference.
6am alarms on a Saturday are never welcome (the irony being today I bounced out of bed at 5am!), nor 2-3 hour drives, but I knew it would be worth it and I was not disappointed. Once again, the #WomenEd community have inspired, empowered and energised me.
Natalie Aveyard is a great example of the impact #WomenEd has had/ has on an individual and the ripple effect it has on your friends and colleagues as the interest and involvement spreads out. Natalie has been to a number of our regional and national events, each time she brings more people with her as her #WomenEd snowball picks up more people (Nottingham saw her bringing a mini-bus load). She has attended events, tweeted, volunteered to host an event, volunteered to become a Regional Leader and volunteered to join us in Mozambique with Action Aid. She has been 30% braver in the last few months. My next challenge is to get her to write a blog and to speak at an event – 40% … 50% braver?!
We always ask a Regional or a National Leader to open our events and to deliver a #WomenEd welcome, because each time there are new educators joining us. The framing of the event is important, to remember why we exist, how far we have come and what our priorities are. It is always fab to see new faces at our events. It was also great to see more #HeForShe at the Mansfield event. Below is my opening:
I said to the audience that I would share the links for the DFE funded Diversity and Equality regional activity: Women Leading in Education Networks and the Women Leading in Education Coaching Pledge.
Also here are some quick links for the forthcoming #WomenEd events in the Midlands: 9/6 Warwick & 30/6 Grantham There is also an event at my school in Oxfordshire 7/7/18. We hope to see some of you there!
My reflections on the cracking presentations from this event are below. The line up was impressive and had a great balance of old and new faces/ voices.
Claire Cuthbert: Lead, follow, or get out of the way!
Claire was our opening key note and shared her journey from an estate in the North East to CEO in the East Midlands. She is an authentic leader and has become quite comfortable at sharing the vulnerability of her journey. I loved that she peppered her musings with Disney clips capturing resilience, teamwork and tenacity.
Annemarie Williams: Press for Progress: Queen Bees or Sisters in Solidarity?
Annemarie always hits the nail on the head in an understated way. Delivering ‘naked’ she shared her thoughts on sisterly and un-sisterly conduct in schools. Embodying integrity and channelling Brene Brown, she challenged us to consider how cooperation, collaboration and community makes us stronger leaders.
John Pearce: Consensual Leadership
John has supported #WomenEd from the beginning via Twitter, but this was the first event he had attended, and when we had a few cancellations and asked for volunteers to fill the gaps on the line up, he stepped up with a provocation. He opened with a heartfelt thank you and was quite emotional about the warm welcome he had received and the hope he felt in the room. Developing the theme of #MeToo and the heightened awareness of consent in our society, he proposed that we need consensual leadership in our schools. He has already blogged his presentation here.
Fee Stagg: Good Leadership Eats Itself…
Fee is a National Governance Lead and brings a different leadership perspective to our events. Her presentation naturally developed the theme from John’s one on the Lead, Push, Follow dynamic of leadership. She encouraged us all to consider our contributions to the leadership of our schools and the dynamic of our relationships with others.
Jill Berry: Moving into a new leadership role – 5 top tips
Jill completed her Doctorate research on leadership transitions and published ‘Making the Leap’ which is a highly recommended read for not only DHTs moving to Headship but any leader making the transition to their next step on the ladder. She has distilled her research into a chapter for the forthcoming #WomenEd book and she shared 5 of her top tips:
1. Research carefully & ensure this is the right job/right place/right time for you.
2. Use this research & focus on the match/fit in a compelling written application
3. At interview, show what you offer/bring to the role & how you will add value (esp if internal)
4. Use the lead-in time between being successful at interview & formally stepping into the role to build your knowledge & begin to establish yourself
5. Recognise that however well prepared you are you still need to ‘build the bridge as you walk on it’ & learn in the job.
Kay Fuller: Feminist Leadership: What makes you happy?
Kay shared her research as Associate Professor at Nottingham University and as Course Convener for a MA in Educational Leadership. She reflected on an interview question that a Headteacher she spoke to for her research always asks: What makes you happy and what makes you angry? She shared what makes her happy and angry as a leader, as an encouragement to us all to become more self-aware and to hold onto our values as non-negotiables in our schools.
Pran Patel: Outward Facing Leadership
Pran and I met at a TDA event at Cambridge uni a few years ago, he has become an avid tweeter, blogger and presenter at grassroots events and willingly comes to many #womened events. He thanked the community for saving his career and for keeping him in the profession and on SLT. Last year he completed our Diverse Leaders programme and really embraced being an ‘outtie!’ He shared his thoughts on outward versus inward facing leadership and the need to find your tribe and share your why. I was delighted that he won the coaching day from Felicity too!
Krysta Parsons: Stepping up and Leaning In
Krysta has contributed to a few of our events, and has shared with us the rollercoaster of her leadership journey. She has secured the dream job, the dream job has gone sour, she has risen from the ashes and secured a different dream job. As Jill says, rough seas make the best sailors, and the ebb and flow of leadership has made Krysta a reflective and a humble leader. Her honesty and vulnerability instills hope with the audience members who are currently not in a school that is the right fit. She also spoke openly about the imposter syndrome she has experienced in her career, a common motif at our events.
Felicity King: Leading from the inside out:- the infectious power of being in
Felicity joined us for her first #WomenEd event and also answered the call for contributions. I loved her prop – an empty toilet roll, with her presentation notes on. The simplicity of her presentation picked up Kay’s theme of knowing yourself and looking in before you look out.
Laura Watkin: Effective communication in leadership; why the **** sandwich doesn’t work
Laura is another new face/ new voice to our community, tapped on the shoulder by one of the Brunts team, she was gung-ho about coming and contributing. Light bulb moments went off for her throughout the event as things resonated with her and she saw her own journey mirrored by others. Her presentation on the importance of relationships and communication was spot on, as she encouraged us to not confuse nor conflate the lines between the different types of conversations needed to oil the cogs in our schools.
Book Raffle for Mozambique:
Kathryn Morgan, Natalie and I are 3/18 educators who are travelling to Mozambique with Action Aid this summer to build a library. You can find out more about our project here. We have been overwhelmed with the generosity of educators who have donated copies of their books for us to raffle at our events. In Kathryn’s absence, Kay did a fab job in selling our raffle tickets and we raised another £100, plus 15 people went home with a new educational book to read!
Carly Waterman: Think Yourself Limitless
Carly delivered a thought-provoking closing keynote to wrap up the event. She openly challenged the self-diminishing language and self-deprecating behaviours we often see and hear in each other. She shared tips on how to control our inner chimps and manage the imposter syndrome. Sharing how limiting her own inner voice has been on her career progression, she reflected on how #WomenEd has empowered her to control it, and then she modelled how she does it.
The room wept with laughter as a recorded voice filled the room, Carly’s inner critic Doris called her out on all of the self-doubt and limiting thoughts she has had about herself in the last few years. The dialogue that ensued of Carly telling us who she is, what she has achieved, her hopes and dreams, each time undermined by Doris revealed how we talk ourselves down and out of opportunities.
Well done Carly – no-one is going to forget your contribution – it was genius! Your pragmatic approach to leadership really resonates, as does your willingness to share your vulnerability.
I love that at our #WomenEd events we arrive as strangers and leave as friends. Moreover, that our inclusive and diverse line ups may seem contrasting on paper, but as the stories are shared, we begin to weave links between each reflection. Thank you to all of our contributors, our hosts, the student helpers and our audience for a truly brilliant event!
Thanks to the Brunts Academy tribe for organising a post-event lunch afterwards – it is always good to reflect, discuss and process with others. Also to plot what comes next!
Hannah, The Hopeful Headteacher
Currently feeling hopeful about:
- The new Regional Leaders who are joining our team including Natalie and Carly
- #HeForShe advocacy from the presenters and audience members
- The #10%braver pledges that will come out of this event and the personal/professional changes this will bring
Currently reading and thinking about:
- The Working Class – Ian Gilbert et al for our @WomenEdBookclub chat in a few weeks’ time
Currently feeling grateful for:
- The people I have met in the last 4 years through twitter, staffrm, events and #womened
- The time and energy that our community invest investment in our shared vision