Professional Responsibility: Words Hurt

Dear Katie,

I feel compelled to write to you following your tweet yesterday as it has caused a lot of unrest in my #PLN and has featured in conversations with different I have connected with in the last 24 hours.

I am glad to see it has been removed by Twitter, this morning, a day after you posted it, following multiple complaints, but it alarms me that it took the platform and those who monitor it so long.

The fact your tweet was liked by 5k and retweeted by 10k reminds of me how the London Riots were incited via social media. To you a flippant tweet of 140 characters, to others an endorsement or an affirmation of racial hatred,  cultural ignorance and religious prejudice.

You need to remember that your words hurt as they land. You need to be mindful of your professional responsibility. You need to imagine what would happen if each person in our society felt and spoke like this.  You need to acknowledge that we are global citizens.

Katie Hopkins 3.png

Why was I affronted by your tweet?

As a Tweeter:

You need to appreciate that you have 106k followers and when you share a tweet like that, whether you intend to or not, you are influencing the thinking of those who follow you. You are a role model for many and you need to take this responsibility seriously. Your actions and behaviours influence others; they can have a positive or a negative impact and this tweet encourages others to be intolerant and disrespectful of others.

As a Teacher:

You need to understand that if you were a student in a school you would have been excluded for such language. You have a responsibility as an adult, as a parent and as a carer, to model the behaviours we expect in our young people. As a school leader, I have had to deal with Muslim students being racially abused on the bus and physically assaulted in the street as  a result of conversations like this.

As a Headteacher:

You need to acknowledge that you have abused your position and taken advantage of your sphere of influence. If you were one of my parents we would have had a formal conversation about the values of our community: diversity, equality and inclusion as your tweet compromises each of them. As schools we promote positive role models who will inspire and empower our young people. The advent of social media and reality TV challenge us every day in steering our next generation in the right direction. We educate our children to love and not to hate. Your tweet undermines this.

As a Human:

You need to show some empathy for the families of everyone concerned in the incidents you refer to. You need to show some respect for a religion and the religious practice of fasting.  You need to show some compassion for the wider Muslim community who are being judged by the behaviours of a few. Your tweet isolates and marginalises the masses by the actions of a few. By calling Muslims ‘sods’ you diminish our fellow humans and your reference to turning ‘nasty’ when they are hungry implies they are wild animals.

I really hope this picture will make you reflect on the repercussions  that acts of terrorism have on our society. Moreover, to consider the ripples on different communities when anatagonistic comments like yours are made.

Our world is in disarray: we don’t need any more hate, we need love.

Human Chain

Perhaps  it would be helpful to have a refresher of the hate crime laws as many of us who saw the tweet felt like you were intentionally trying to incite others.

Educators have a responsibility under Prevent to educate our young people about how to safeguard themselves from terrorism:

Prevent

But we equally have a responsibility to educate our young people about their rights and how to stay safe online, if a school child had showed us this tweet we would have investigated it and reported it:

Review of Hate Crime        Report a Hate Crime

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You probably will not read this post but by reporting your tweet, challenging your behaviour and engaging in the conversations on twitter there has been some good that has come out of it:

  • There has been a sense of collective responsibility around challenging your behaviour.
  • There has been pressure on twitter to monitor such tweets and remove them/ block the tweeters.
  • There has been a renewed solidarity as it has encouraged more educators to find out more about Ramadam.
  • There has been a commitment by many to engage in the Ramadam celebrations to show their support:

Amjad’s Post on StaffRm      Ramadam – Dusk and Dawn

Hannah, The Hopeful Headteacher

Currently feeling hopeful about:

  • The educators who reported the tweet and who challenged the behaviours as it is a collective responsibility.

Currently reading and thinking about:

  • I have re-read Amjad’s post – with a diverse school community at Aureus School – we need to make sure that we are educating our young people about different religious practices.

Currently feeling grateful for:

  • My #PLN who lead their lives by similar values to mine.

Grow, Learn and Flourish: Our Mantra

The ethos of GLF resonated with me as soon as I met my new CEO Jon at the Academies Show last spring.

I have spoken and blogged a lot about my values in the last year. I had become disgruntled, disenfranchised with my vocation and sought coaching to unpick why I was frustrated and unhappy. Through coaching I excavated my values. Through coaching I can now articulate my vision and values for education. Through coaching I now know myself better as a leader.

So why do we need to Grow, Learn and Flourish? Why do we need this vision in our current school system?

This metaphor works on the micro and macro level for me. As a system we are growing, our landscape and infrastructure are in a state of flux. We need to learn what is going well and what is going wrong in the diverse range of schools around out country. We need to learn why we are not recruiting and retaining our teachers. We need to focus on our communities wellbeing and mental health. We know our staff are stressed and unwell, leaving the system to find the light, we know our students are caving under the pressure. This is why the mission statement is aligned with everything I believe could  be right but is currently wrong in our school system.

How can schools and communities be supported in living these values?

I quote Mary Myatt’s new book ‘Hopeful Schools’ a lot. The statement: “we need to live, not laminate our values” has become my personal and professional mantra. We need to focus on the holistic education of our students. We need to focus on our staff’s mental health and wellbeing. We need to focus on the “souls in the roles” and the “names not numbers” in our schools. No human should be reduced to a job title, nor a number in a spreadsheet.

What does ‘Grow’ mean to me for teaching, learning and leadership?

Growth mindset is a good starting point. Planning and teaching all lessons pitched to the top and scaffolding down, removing setting, creating equality of opportunity in our schools for all stakeholders. For me growing also means employability, our CIAG is not strong enough – it is all well and good focusing on knowledge but without the transferable skills to apply this learning our young people will not be able to grow in their careers. Growing to me also means the opportunities to engage in the arts, to grow as a person and explore one’s identity. Being able to think creatively and express one self are skills that all our school leavers should be equipped with.

What does ‘Learn’ mean to me for teaching, learning and leadership?

“No school is an island” is another one of my mantras, but I extend it by adding, “no school leader or classroom practitioner should be an island either”. I passionately believe in collaboration, community partnerships and system leadership. We need to inspire and empower our students to “learn to learn” but we also need to reignite some of the candles that are being blown out in the profession. We need to ensure that our CPD offers in schools are inspiring and enable everyone in our school communities to learn and develop. I learn through tweeting, blogging, reading and discussing my thinking and experiences with others – I want to bottle the buzz I get from #teachmeets #leadmeets #womened #bameed and share this with everyone I connect with.

What does ‘Flourish’ mean to me for teaching, learning and leadership?

I want to be a teacher, a school leader and have a life. I don’t think is much to ask. I want to model a balanced perspective on teaching as a lifestyle choice, teaching as a vocation but also teaching as a career where you can also have flexibility and a family. I want to support the teachers who join us in the profession to flourish. I want to nurture the talent we have in the system to flourish and stay in the profession. I want to inspire and empower the educators who have left the system to return to teaching and to find a school with vision and values focused on #wellbeing, to find a school where there opportunities to work flexibly, to find a school where diverse educators are coached and mentored to so they can flourish.

This is why the mission statement for GLF is more than some words laminated and stuck on the wall. These values are lived and permeate through the community, our GLF family.

Hannah, The Hopeful Headteacher

Currently feeling hopeful about:

  • Growing, Learning and Flourishing as a Headteacher
  • Co-creating our MAT/ TSA conference framed by our GLF values

Currently reading and thinking about:

  • I am reading blogs and articles, attending events to shape our school systems at Aureus to support wellbeing and workload

Currently feeling grateful for:

  • The coaches who have supported me in growing, learning and flourishing – thank you relighting my flame of hope – Viv Grant, Carol Jones, Eve Warren, the team at Graydin and Jill Berry for lots of chats.
  • Amjad for nudging me to write a blog about #growlearnflourish

Ethical & Principled Leadership: Vision, Values, Voice & Virtue

I have been thinking, reflecting and discussing leadership a lot over the last few years. I have reflected on the leader I have become, the leader that I thought I would become and the future leaders who I want to develop and shape, staff and students alike. I have never liked labels nor boxes. I have always sat between ideologies and arguments, drawing on the aspects that resonate and disregarding the components that I am not aligned with.

I am not a conformist. I am a collaborator. I am not a game player. I do what is right, even when it makes me unpopular, and when it is challenging.  It has frustrated me over the years that I have worked with those who are territorial and do not appreciate the need for collaborative partnership and system leadership. It has frustrated me that I have worked with those who have focused on the outcomes, competing with each other and playing the system, rather than focusing on the process through which we achieve the outcomes.

We become teachers due to a moral imperative to serve. But, we have all watched teachers become leaders and shed their morals. We have seen the tipping point of leaders who ‘sell their soul to the devil’. We know there are high stakes. We know we are accountable. But, we also know that the system will never change unless we change it from within.

This is why the Headteachers Roundtable brings me hope. This is why Whole Education brings me hope. This is why the Leading Women’s Alliance brings me hope. This is why grassroots movements like #WomenEd and #BAMEed being me hope. Times are changing. Trailblazers are challenging the system. I have been inspired to my core in the last few weeks as I have engaged in the #GreatSchools annual conference for Whole Education, the #HTRTSummit, the #SeizingOpportunities summit and numerous Diversity Matters panels at #BETT17 and #Teach2017.

My core values are my compass point. They are my moral driver. They are also my engine room, as they sustain my energy levels to stay focused, to commit to the big picture, to keep going, even when the going gets tough.

With everything going on in the world right now. With everything going on in the UK right now. With everything going on in the education system right now. We need ethical, principled, values-led school leaders now, more than ever. When we lead with virtue, when values, voice and vision are aligned, then we lead authentically with integrity. This is the leader I am and will continue to be. These are the leaders I want to work with and want to shape.   Through my recruitment process for Aureus School I want to talent-spot the teachers and the leaders who want to work collaboratively, as a team, underpinned by their values. These are the leaders who are resilient and motivated for change as their values strengthen their conviction and their commitment.

I was looking for theory and research to underpin my believe in values-led leadership when Kerry Jordan Daus tweeted about Principled Leadership, a label I was not aware of. I did some research and found the below figure of the ‘4-V model’. Developed by Dr. Bill Grace, the 4-V Model of Ethical Leadership demonstrates the four sides of ethical leadership. The 4-V Model of Ethical Leadership is a framework that aligns the internal factors, i.e. the beliefs and values, with the external factors, i.e. the behaviors and actions, in service of approaching the common good.

ethical-4

The 4 sides of  ethical leadership, include: values, vision, voice and virtue. To develop ethical leadership, we as leaders need to begin with understanding our individual core values. Our vision is our ability as leaders to behave and act within the frame of our values. Our voice is how we articulate our vision and use it to motivate action. Our virtue, is our belief in the common good, it is fostered through ethical, principled leadership. Virtuous behavior is when we live our values, when we strive to do the right thing.

Dr. Grace, the founder of the 4-V model,  identifies three additional key elements to ethical leadership: service, polis and renewal. Our service connects our vision to our values, which means that when our values are tested through our service, that our vision is often revealed. Polis, standing for politics, indicates that our schools are engaged in the art of politics when voice is given to vision in the public context. Renewal is the territory where voice returns to values, illustrates that since voice can be expressed in various ways, us as the leaders should regularly consider whether our actions are consistent with our values and our vision.

(The Center for Ethical Leadership, 2014).

As Andy Hargreaves presented on collaborative leadership and the need for leaders who champion diversities at Whole Education’s #GreatSchools; as Carol Jones contextualised leadership in 2017 at the Leading Women’s Alliance #SeizingOpportunities Summit and advocated the need for values-led decision makers; and as Laura McInerney and Helen Lewis discussed bold leadership and how we articulate and amplify our voices as school leaders at the #HTRTsummit; I felt something inside me shift. My values are strong, but I felt them galvanise for action.  Both events filled me with hope. Hope for the future of our schools, for the future of school leadership.

For me hope is built on: Principled leadership; Ethical leadership; Values-led leadership. Our school system needs these leaders. Our children need these leaders. These are the leaders who will collectively stabilise the chaos that we currently find our world in.

Imagine if all of our schools were led in this way. Imagine if all of our leaders made decisions based on what was right for the children and the community, rather than succumbed to the pressures of the system and the accountabilities. Imagine if the leaders who remained in the system, who were not chewed up and spat out, were the leaders who did not sell their soul to the devil. Just imagine.

ethical

Hannah, The Hopeful Headteacher

Currently feeling hopeful about:

  • The impact that the Headteachers’ Roundtable will have on the school system

Currently reading and thinking about:

  • The Heads Roundtable’s Green Paper
  • The Spirals of Enquiry and communities of collaborative enquiry that Whole Education champion

Currently feeling grateful for:

  • Carol Jones for helping to shape my values-led leadership journey
  • Kerry Jordan-Daus for sign posting me to find our more about Principled Leadership
  • The HTRT core group who created a really special event this week and modelled Ethical Leadership
  • The Diverse Leaders panellists – thank you to Allana, Amjad, Bennie, Bukky, Jess, Mahlon and Martin – who contributed to the Diversity Matters panels at #BETT17 and #Teach2017 – continue leading with authenticity and integrity as the tide is changing