Nurturing Hearts and Minds: ‘Wonder’

As an English teacher I think in words, as a Media Studies teacher I think in images. I knew instinctively what I wanted to do to hook my audience in my first staff briefing. I wanted to play them a song that lift my spirits and a music video that is a piece of art.

‘Wonder’ by Emili Sandi depicts a woman going on a journey in an unknown land, she heads for the door to another world. The video is an explosion of different colours, a sensory overload.

Behind her, her tribe forms, following her as she leads, the gap between them closing as they join her on the journey. As the mists separate, the door becomes more prominent.

Powerful,  imagistic  storytelling with  a rhythmic tribal beat lifted by her soulful voice.

This video embodies the journey I have been on, that I am on and that I continue on. I am full of wonder for the possibilities of the place we are creating. Our team are united in the opportunity to flip the system and demonstrate there is another way.

Our pledge to nurture hearts and minds has started this week with my first assembly launching our community values, framing September with our wellbeing focus, listening to one of our DHTs launch our mental health and mindfulness programme.

Our family dining experience has created an opportunity each day for us all to not only nourish ourselves but also to nurture those around them.

Today I taught my first lesson for over a year. My last lesson was in Tanzania, a FGM and ECM class to a group of young girls living in a culture were both are accepted. A lesson where I realised how inspiring and empowering and #nakedteaching is to remind us of the awe and wonder of teaching. Today I taught my first lesson in our new school, starting each new week with double Drama with our year 7s will ensure that our why stays strong and central to our decisions and actions.

Hannah, The Hopeful Headteacher

Currently feeling hopeful about:

The brilliant team I have recruited who are all aligned, living their values and sharing our vision.

Currently reading and thinking about:

I am reviewing The Mindful Teacher for Schools’ Week.

Currently feeling grateful for:

The overwhelming support I have received this week – texts, facebook messages, emails, cards and flowers have all made me appreciate by #PLN.

The Power of Facing Your Fears: #Ididitanyway @WomanthologyUK

Fiona Tatton @womanthologyUK founder & editor started the #ididitanyway hashtag on Twitter & LinkedIn last week.

She is crowdfunding a new publication for women & was seeking inspirational stories from women who had faced fears to overcome adversities.

http://www.womanthology.co.uk/

I have pledged because I love what she is doing to raise the profile & amplify the voices of women in STEM, challenging gender stereotypes through publishing.

IMG_3518

This resonated with #womened, our Why, how we connect & what we stand for.

Fellow #WomenEd co-founder & National Leader, Vivienne Porritt, shared our community #ididitanyway in this tweet:

The #ididitanyway testimonials of personal & professional challenges, change & growth have been inspiring to read. It parallels the #womened pledge to be #10%braver.

IMG_3524

Vivienne posted this blog to capture our journey as a community in the last 2 1/2 years:

https://staffrm.io/@vivienne/1EaQ4zlF2m

This year has been a life changing year for me so here is my #ididitanyway story:

18 months ago I resigned from a toxic school culture.

I was told by my then boss that I was committing ‘career suicide’. In my heart I knew I was, in fact, committing career salvation!

Like with any negative relationship sometimes you just need to ‘rip the bandaid’ off! I have broken up with  bad boyfriends. I have moved away from feckless friends. Why do we stay at schools that are unhealthy and in roles where we stagnate?

I listened to my instincts – I knew I was unhappy. I knew I was in a professionally destructive relationship & I was losing myself.

IMG_3519

I was confident enough to know there are more jobs than teachers & lots of schools out there. I am also a strong believer that life is too short to work somewhere which makes you unhappy, for a leader who does not value you.

So I pulled the rip cord.

I then paused, and I waited for opportunities to come to me. I didn’t listen to the voice telling me to find safety/ security/ stability as I didn’t want to ‘jump from the frying pan into the fire’.

I had coaching from some fantastic #womened role models: I revisited my Why; I articulated my values; I visualised the role, school, culture I needed to find; I wrote down my non-negotiables. I did it my way.

IMG_3523

I did my research – I found a role, applied & was offered the role. I then held the power – I negotiated & got the terms I needed to make the leap. I knew that I needed to start the next chapter as I meant to go on. I was adamant that would be no looking back.

#ididitanyway – I changed trusts, I changed cultures, I changed roles, I changed areas, I changed teams. I changed my destiny.

I couldn’t have done it without the support of the #womened community, without my tribe of fellow women leading in education to lean on.

When friends, family & colleagues ask me why I invest so much of my time & energy in the #womened community & movement this is my explanation.

IMG_3521

We have each others’ backs. We support one another, we fortify our resilience, we nurture our ambition. We are a team with a collective vision, common mission and shared values.

Hannah, The Hopeful Headteacher

Currently feeling hopeful about:

The impact of #womened on a community of female school leaders.


Currently reading and thinking about:

I have loved reading all of the cross-sector  #ididitanyway tweets showing tenacity despite adversity.


Currently feeling grateful for:

Social media for connecting like-minded people, helping us to find & raise our voice, plus amplify the voice of others.

 

New Staff Induction: Values Scoping

Wow! What a week? 5 full days of New Staff Induction and Year 6 Transition Evening.

It has been a whirlwind – a highly-productive and intense week but we have achieved so much already. The Aureus team have bonded, forging strong relationships and starting some brilliant collaborations.  The feedback after each session and at the end of the week was overwhelming positive. Staff feel valued and know that their voice has been heard in the co-designing process of our school.

Our vision is shared. Our values are aligned. Our mission is clear.

Together we will nurture the hearts and the minds of the Aureus Community. Together we will grow, learn and flourish as a team.

The values-scoping day was vital in achieving this. It was important to have an external objective voice, Sue Webb, facilitate for us so that it was crowd-sourced and shared, not me imposing my values on my team. I was challenged and have had to compromise on some things, but not on my non-negotiables. She has started us on our VbE journey. We will work towards fulfilling the Values-based Education framework alongside becoming a Rights Respecting School, we will underpin what we do with the rights of the child.

The discussions and reflections on who we are, both as humans and as educators, were fascinating and have helped to establish strong relationships across the team. We started the week as strangers and we ended the week as not just friends, but as a family. The Aureus family. Pen Mendonca listened and captured our shared vision and our emerging ethical vocabulary.

Aureus Values Scoping I loved the different metaphors that emerged as we explored our values being our moral compass, our anchor in a storm, our beacon of hope. Each image symbolising the roots we are planting as we grow our school.

We started the week by doing the inner work to reflect on our own values. We consolidated our 16 strongest values to our 8 core values. We self-evaluated how aligned our current school cultures were on a values wheel. This task was enlightening for us all and quite emotional for some. It reinforced why staff are joining the Aureus Team. Why we are bonded in the conviction that there is a different way, that there has to be a different way of achieving our vision without compromising our values.

values wheel

We scoped all of our values. We also virtually brought in those staff members who were not present. The 12 core values that bond us are drafted for staff consultation in September. We will then consider what each of these values looks like, what behaviours, attitudes, language  we associate with each to enable us to live each value, every day.

Aureus 12 core values

In my research I have found the idea of us all doing an Integrity Report each year where we reflect on how authentically we are living our values. I am going to draft mine over the summer and share it with the team. Model the reflection, honesty and openness that I seek from our team.

Starting the week with our values framed everything else we discussed and shared. Looking at the whole child entitlement, the leadership of our values-based curriculum and the leadership of our restorative justice behaviour for learning model through the values lens has fundamentally changed our approach to these key areas of our school. Our why remains in tact, but our how and our what have shifted.

Steve Baker from Pivotal Education joined us to further challenge us on how we have been trained, how we have been institutionalised and how we can potentially achieve the school culture and ethos we share a vision for without becoming trapped in a negative, punitive cycle.

Each day we started by experiencing the Mindfulness programme that Julie Hunter (one half of my Deputy Headteacher team) has planned for our students to develop their self-care and resilience toolkit. Steve joined us the day it was Mindful Movement – he participated alongside our teachers, our leaders, our operations team, our site team and our home school link workers as we did yoga together for 30 minutes at the start of  our day led by Charlotte James, our PE LP and staff wellbeing lead. We were experiencing what it is like to mindfully prepare before you mentally learn.

Each external guest who joined us this week were extremely complimentary about the Aureus team, they really are the A-Team. Each contributor expressed they were quite jealous at the opportunity we have and wished they could turn back the clock to join us on our journey. These comments made my heart swell with pride.

We have a lot to do. We have a long way to go. Yet, I am confident that I have the right people on the bus and could not think of a better team to be on this adventure with.

Hannah, The Hopeful Headteacher

Currently feeling hopeful about:

  • The dynamic, determined team I have recruited. I feel privileged and very proud of the strong team ethic we have already forged this week.

Currently reading and thinking about:

Currently feeling grateful for:

  • Thank you to Sue Webb who facilitated our Values Scoping exercises and planted the seeds for our Values-based Education and Values-led Leadership to #growlearnflourish
  • Thank you to Pen Mendonca who was our graphic facilitator to capture the process
  • Thank you to Steve Baker who facilitated our behaviour for learning day
  • Thank you Kate at Deli-licious who fed us all week!

Planting Seeds: How Would You Grow a Culture of Wellbeing?

Last May I attended the Mental Health and Wellbeing #teachmeet at Magna Carta School, an inspiring event where I met Clare Erasmus for the first time. We stayed in touch and have become friends. Through our conversations, through tweets and blogs,  via events we have both been at like the CWMT Mental Health Conference I hosted in November, I have learnt a lot. She is a trail blazer and is paving the way for the emerging role of MH&WB leaders in our schools, around the country. Visiting her provision and experiencing  her vision in situ really helped me with my strategic vision of  #wellbeing.

A year on, I have secured a Headship. A year on, I returned to facilitate a session. A year on, I am working on bringing my vision to reality. My session was  intended as a crowd sourcing exercise, but ended up being me sharing my ideas and receiving verification I was on the right track and challenge for some of the ideas that needed developing, and/or thinking through for sustainability.

Here are the questions I asked the room and used to facilitate the discussion:

Q1. With a blank piece of paper where would you start in nurturing a school wellbeing culture where everyone can #growlearnflourish?

I know my team and I have the luxury of being able to create things from scratch and do things differently, rather than lead change, the whole staff body and the majority of the parent body are fully behind co-creating a wellbeing culture.  A clean slate is exciting and means we can create new systems from day one.

Q2. How would you define a “Wellbeing Culture”?

I was asked this recently in a group coaching session. I was challenged on using my conditioned vision of wellbeing as the frame for my current wellbeing needs. I had not considered this before – that my parents had brought me up with their wellbeing vision and that my lifestyle is very different so I need to redefine my own interpretation. Growing up in Devon, my parents semi-retired to a farm and live the ‘goodlife’. I love walks on the beach but don’t really do mud! I would rather go to a spa for a weekend and have a massage to nourish my soul – ultimately I shouldn’t feel guilty about this. Equally leading a wellbeing vision and creating a wellbeing provision is about ensuring that  a range of diverse opportunities are offered to cater for all staff needs .e.g staff sports or mindfulness are not for everyone!

GoodLife3BBC_468x426

Q3. What does ‘Growing, Learning and Flourishing, Together’ mean to you?

I asked everyone to complete these 3 sentences:

  • Human beings grow best when… they have the right conditions including space and freedom.
  • Human beings learn best when… they have some ownership over their direction and the time/energy to commit to it.
  • Human beings flourish best when… they are loved, nurtured and trusted.

Q4. Does our system focus on student wellbeing at the expense of staff wellbeing?

I think this is true. My pledge is that if we look after our staff better, then our staff will look after our students. Not that they are not striving to do this already, but teachers are barely able to look after their own MH&WB with the pressures of our profession. Our staffing crisis, both recruitment and retention, is exasperated by the negative press about our profession. But there is no smoke without fire. Yes we need to talk up our profession, but we need get to the root cause and fix our system, rather than icing over the cracks.

Q5. How can we create a wellbeing culture where everyone can thrive and flourish?

For me we need to shift our focus. We need to focus on whole human beings, both staff and students, and not reduce them to statistics. We need focus on preventative strategies rather than reactive interventions.

Q6. What strategies would be on the  Action Plan for creating a Wellbeing Culture? What would you establish as your short, medium, long term goals? What would you prioritise?

  • How can we create it? We need to ensure it is embedded in our culture, vision and strategy from day 1.
  • How can we model it? We need to ensure that all of our staff live our values.
  • How can we nurture it? We need to ensure that all of our community are supported.
  • How can we sustain it? We need to review it and regularly take staff voice.
  • How can we audit it? We need to engage all stakeholders.

Q7. Reflections: How can we take our  vision and create a #wellbeing provision?  

Committed to ‘nurturing hearts and minds’  we are developing our holistic offer to include:

  • Mindfulness programme – every morning
  • Art Therapy room – in 8 week blocks
  • Thrive Room – to nurture our vulnerable students through transition
  • Sensory Room – to support our ASD students
  • Martial Arts Academy – for all of our Year 7s
  • Wellbeing Room – for all of our staff
  • Coaching Culture – for all of our staff
  • Family Dining Experience – for all of our community
  • Community Reflection – for our students each night
  • Half-day on Fridays – for our whole community

Golden Circle wellbeing

This is all a work in progress of course and I can’t wait to have the team started to drive this forward. Ask me a year how we are getting on!

Hannah, The Hopeful Headteacher

Currently feeling hopeful about:

  • Changing the language from #teachmeet to #edumeet to be more inclusive of the educators working outside of our classroom.

Currently reading and thinking about:

  • Kay Price gave us a MH&WB toolkit of books to read that have shaped her wellbeing provision.

Currently feeling grateful for:

  • Everyone who attended, facilitated and contributed to the discussions at the #MagnaMHTM17.

 

 

 

School Leadership: Growing, Learning and Flourishing

Viv Grant is doing a school leaders’ blog series on how we can flourish. Below are my reflections to the questions that she posed about wellbeing, thriving and flourishing as educators, school leaders and schools.

Context:

I was appointed as a Headteacher Designate in June and started in January but am not yet in the full role as I have no staff, students or parents but I do now have a site and an office. It has been an interesting transition into my 1st Headship.

I joined GLF as the visions and the values of the trust were strong: ‘to grow, to learn, to flourish’. As a values-led leader, designing a values-based education this resonated with me. Our mission at Aureus is to educate the whole child and to ‘nurture hearts and minds’.

I relocated for the role, I now live in Oxfordshire after 12 years in London. This was part of my wellbeing commitment to myself, I wanted a change in pace, a new lifestyle and a new environment. The atmosphere in my school is calm because of the large windows framing stunning views. Seeing blue skies and green fields is very calming and I took this for granted when I grew up in Devon.

I am committed to ensuring that my staff and students grow, learn and flourish, but I also need to ensure that I have this pledge for myself as a school leader: I need to practice what I preach!

FLOURISH 2

Have you ever struggled with the reality of school leadership? If so, when and how did it affect you?

I have a strong ethical and moral code. I lead and behave based on my values. I have seen several leaders lose themselves in their role and behave in ways I do not respect.
I always strive to maintain my professional integrity and have had to fight my corner when I have been asked to do things I do not think are ethical. I have whistleblown when I feel my values are being compromised. The increasing pressures from the system need leaders to be strong, resilient and tenacious to stay true to who they are, what they believe and what they stand for.

In what ways does the role sometimes fail to support the flourishing and wellbeing of its leaders?

Teaching and leading in education can become all-consuming. I believe that a lot of the profession are struggling to survive and keep their head above the water line. Hence why we have a recruitment and retention crisis for school staffing.

We have a lot of systems in our schools which are not time nor energy efficient which need reviewing. We also have traditional practices and paperwork for paperwork’s sake which could be changed.

Our profession has a renewed focus on wellbeing, but quite often it is focused on student wellbeing at the expense of student wellbeing. We need to focus on positive mental health and wellbeing for everyone in our school community. I have appointed a brilliant Deputy Headteacher, Julie Hunter, who has done the .B mindfulness course and the MHFA accreditation. She will be leading our wellbeing strategy.

What changes have you made to your own ways of being and leading that have served you better in Headship?

I am only a term in and do not yet have a team as I am the founding Headteacher of a brand new school site and community. This has it pros and cons.

The pros are that I have had a term lead in to think about and plan how to do things differently. I have recruited a dynamic team are all aligned with my vision and values for the school. The cons are that I am the only team member and the job feels like it is 24/7. I have especially felt the impact of this with communications as I have no one to streamline the flow and interface with all of the stakeholders who want to talk to me/ meet me.

With no team to delegate to, I am accountable for everything and everything is medium to high priority. I am employed a virtual PA to support me as I could not keep all of the balls in the air at one time! From September I will have a personal plan as well as a professional plan for 2017-18 goals. I will get into more a routine once the school is opening and ring fence more time for me. With our holistic offer including yoga, mindfulness and martial arts I will build this into my working week.

flourishing-quotes-1

What advice would you give to those struggling with the role?

I have a very strong support network who have kept me sane – I have a professional mentor and a personal coach who I can contact to seek support and advice from. I live the #10%braver mantra of #womened – I found my voice a while back and use it. If I am overwhelmed, stressed, unhappy I articulate it.

I have recently been involved in a group coaching programme curated by Annemarie Williams and we had a session with Harriet Minter who challenged me to challenge myself about how I ensure that self-care and self-compassion are part of my professional identity. I am realistic about the fact I am a one woman band and cannot do it all, so I do what I can, when I can and do not beat myself up when I miss deadlines or make mistakes – we are humans and things go wrong, when they do I apologise and make amends.

For me, it is all about fit. I have found myself in the wrong role, at the wrong school, in the wrong culture and I had to walk away. We are responsible for the culture of our schools and the behaviours of our teams, but we are also responsible for our own wellbeing. If we are not healthy, happy and well, then how can we look after the wellbeing of others?

flourish

On a wider level, what needs to happen?

• To make school leadership more sustainable we need to invest in wellbeing and resilience build in activity such as coaching and mentoring.
• To support the well-being of school leaders we need to review the workload challenge and create a space and a range of opportunities in schools for staff to breath.
• To help school leaders to flourish we need to invest in the development of their leadership capacity.
• To create a happy & healthy school we need to focus on the whole person and offer holistic activities to develop the mind, the body and the soul.
• To recapture the soul and put the humanity back into education we need to remember and focus on the ‘names, not the numbers’ for our children and the ‘souls, not the roles’ for our staff.

We also need to spend more time on our values as individuals and as communities, ensuring that our values are ‘lived, not laminated’.

MLK FLOURISH QUOTE

Final Thoughts:

I am presenting at the Mental Health and Wellbeing TeachMeet at Magna Carta School this week, sponsored by the Charlie Waller Memorial Trust. My workshop is on MH & WB Policy and Vision: With a blank piece of paper where would you start in nurturing a school culture where everyone can #growlearnflourish?

Hannah, The Hopeful Headteacher

Currently feeling hopeful about:

  • The Holistic offer we have at Aureus to develop the Whole Child, I now want to focus on ensuring we have an offer for the Whole Educator too!

Currently reading and thinking about:

  • I am looking into how we can establish, develop and nurture our Mental Health and Wellbeing programme at Aureus School.

Currently feeling grateful for:

  • My #wellbeing contacts who I will see at the MHWB teachmeet this week – Clare Erasmus, Kathryn Lovewell, Sue Webb and Viv Grant inspire me.

 

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

hate crime.png

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.

Leaning In: On Tables, Meetings & Chairs

I love thinking, and learning, about things; big and small.

I have blogged, and will blog again, about the profound learning experience I had in the Canadian mountains at #uLead17, but this blog is a game changer in its simplicity.

Tables. Have you every considered the shape of the table you are meeting around?

On a panel this week one of my new #sheroes, Jane Danvers, the Principal of the Wilderness School in Adelaide, spoke passionately about the difference between round table and square table meetings.

We strive to separate the leadership from our management in the UK and she has nailed it by sitting her senior team around different shaped tables, physically and metaphorically.

Round table meetings are for leadership, they are strategic and are for questioning, for crowd-sourcing ideas and for blue sky thinking.  Round tables are for exploring the macro questions for the long term.

Square table meetings are for management, they are operational and are for solution finding, for practical discussions around systems. Square tables are for addressing the micro questions for the short to medium term.

This distinction in defining spaces to frame discussions is so simple but sets the tone of the meeting.

To add to this, I visited a school in Calgary on Thursday. Jason Rogers the Principal of Rundle College starts every meeting, every briefing and every staff training by referencing the empty chair at the table.

The empty chair reminds everyone present of who is absent – the child. The symbolism of the empty chair ensures that all dialogue is child-centred.

This metaphor has become a physical symbol around the school as the art department have constructed huge wooden chairs which the children have painted as part of the outdoor furnishings – they are so big a whole class can perch in them. Jason does video addresses when he misses events sat in one of them.

empty chair

Both Headteachers have created values-led cultures, both have created teams who are cohesive and aligned by their principles. I will be ‘magpie-ing’ both ideas. So simple yet so symbolic.

I couldn’t blog about tables, chairs and meetings without mentioning Sheryl Sandberg and leaning in. We know that we need to make sure that women and girls have a seat at the table, and when they do pull in a chair that they need to fully lean in and speak at the table too.

sit at the table

A picture that went viral recently was of the Republican Party’s round table about reproduction – a discussion about motherhood where the female voice was noticeably absent. It caused a stir on twitter as we asked ‘Who thought that it was okay to have no women present to discuss this issue’?

republican party

To counter this I found a hilarious image on instagram where the Dogs’ Committee are meeting to discuss the future of cats! A timely reminder of diversity, equality and inclusion depicted in a humorous way?!

dogs meeting

I have sat at a lot of leadership tables in the last few years where there has been no equality, nor diversity. As times and teams have changed, more women have leaned in and more diverse faces have been represented, but it is noticeable that behaviours around some of the tables have not changed to reflect this.

How inclusive are the tables that you sit at? How inclusive are the meetings that you participate in or chair? Are diverse voices contributing to the conversations and are these voices being heard?

I often notice in meetings the dominance of certain voices, the position of power in the room, the participants who make make eye contact and those who do not, the participants who address the power in the room and those who diminish some contributions or take the credit for contributions made by others.

Meetings can be very cliquey spaces, entrenched in who sits where and expecting everyone to conform to the conventions of group think.

Meeting both of these Headteachers has challenged me to consider the meetings I attend and chair moving forwards, ensuring that they have purpose and are as inclusive as possible.

Hannah, The Hopeful Headteacher

Currently feeling hopeful about:

  • Meeting inspiring leaders who have challenged my thinking and shared their best practice.

Currently reading and thinking about:

  • I am thinking lots about bias for #WomenEd and #BAMEed – will try and find if there are articles for bias in meetings.

Currently feeling grateful for:

  • 10 days in Canada and Banff mountain air to clear my head for the next term as Headteacher Designate, my final one before I become a Headteacher proper with a building, staff, students and parents!

#TEDxNorwichED: Diverse Dreams

So yesterday I took on the personal and professional challenge of presenting at #TEDxNorwichEd.

You can watch my #TEDx talk on Diverse Dreams here:

My original transcript is detailed below (I missed a few bits out and improvised by adding the anecdotes at the end in!)

IMG_1225

Martin Luther King had a dream, a big dream. He had a dream about social integration not social segregation. He spearheaded making that dream a reality and creating a land of equal opportunities.

We all have dreams. Big and small. I have diverse dreams. I have dreams about diversity.

Before I share my dreams with you I would like to share my realities with you.

I have taught and led in South London for 12 years and invite you to come on a journey with me to visit one of these schools. As we go on this journey I want you to focus on your senses and the details, zooming in on the faces and listening to the voices of the different people who we meet.

Imagine:

  • We meet in Tooting near the market – we hear a variety of different languages being spoken in this cultural melting pot.
  • We jump on a bus – we see a range of different people from different places.
  • We are greeted at the school gates by the SLT – 3 white male school leaders.
  • We are guided across the playground by Nikkita our guide  -we hear a cacophany of different languages and accents being spoken.
  • We are shown through reception – we notice the beautiful black and white photos of happy children creating memories of micro-moments.
  • We enter an English classroom – Year 8 are studying war poetry, the walls are covered in images of war poets and war soldiers – all white men.
  • We stop in the corridor to admire a big, bold, bright display – Nikkita explains it is October so it black history month, the month we celebrate diversity.
  • We meet the Senior Leadership Team – 3 white men.
  • We notice the leadership photos and Governing Body photos on the boardroom wall – predominantly white men.
  • We sign out and leave the school, our final impression being the black and white photos.

The realities of our education system.

Despite beautiful black and white photos of beautiful black and white children celebrating diverse communities framed on the walls and plastered on our school websites and prospectus, most of our schools are more like a Dulux colour chart – our schools get paler (and maler) the higher up the hierarchy you progress. Sadly, this leadership model does not reflect the communities we serve

I have taught in schools in South London for 12 years, schools which are predominantly populated with children from diverse backgrounds 55-60% to be precise. In 3 schools, on 3 leadership teams, 3 boardrooms and only had 2 BAME SLT colleagues, both women.

What message are we sending to our young people when black women clean our schools and white men lead our schools? 

In our schools we advocate a growth mindset for learning but do we advocate a growth mindset for leading?

How are we inspiring the next generation to be anything they set their hearts on?

So I have diverse dreams, I have dreams about:

  • Diverse classrooms – where teachers with different cultural experiences share their cultural heritage.
  • Diverse curriculum – where the writers, poets, scientists, historians we are study are from a range of different backgrounds.
  • Diverse corridors – where displays celebrate the global majority instead of the ethnic minority.
  • Diverse role models – where a range of visitors and speakers who represent our diverse society are invited in to inspire our next generation of teachers and leaders.

I have dreams about:

  • Diverse Senior Leadership Teams – who challenge our systemic barriers.
  • Diverse Governance – who champion our diverse leaders.
  • Diverse politicians – who understand our diverse communities.
  • Diverse policy makers – who promote our diverse society.

Different faces in each of these different places.

Diverse thinkers making diverse decisions about our classrooms, our schools, our education system being made by a group diverse leaders who represent the diverse community who will be affected. Not group think  by the privileged elite.

I dream about diverse champions:

  • Who all take collective responsibility for under-representation.
  • Who we all challenge the unconscious biases.
  • Who all champion and celebrate difference.

I dream about diverse changemakers – where we all make the invisible visible, where we all showcase the hidden figures in our schools.

Women need #heforshe advocates and BAME need white allies to champion for change.

So, how do I want us to inspire the next generation?

I want us to all inspire the next generation by dreaming about diversity:

  • By not just dreaming about diversity, but by making these diverse dreams into diverse realities.
  • By talking about diversities, not just diversity, we will inspire the next generation.
  • By appreciating that diversity is more than just a difference in skin tone.
  • By looking beyond the visible differences and seeking out the invisible differences too.

In my diverse dreams:

  • Our school system inspires a diverse workforce where diverse people become professionals
  • Our multi-cultural schools are led by multi-cultural school teachers and school leaders

So I ask you all to

  • Open your minds
  • Open your eyes
  • Open your ears
  • Open your hearts
  • Open your mouths

By connecting with our values, by living our values we are enabled to actively seek to change – if we value diversity then we need to live diversity – our behaviours and our actions need to reflect it too.

We need to see it. We need to say it. We need to challenge it. We need to champion it. We need to believe it.

If as a society we truly believe in and standby diversity then we need to ensure that diversities drive our decision making and our actions.

So I demand you all to #beboldforchange. To be white allies.

  • Together we are stronger
  • Together we are taller
  • Together we are bolder

By being bold for change, we can ensure that we achieve meaningful diversity.

By being bold together we can affect systemic change by inspiring the next generation.

By inspiring the next generation we will open doors and create opportunities for a diverse workforce.

I hope that we will all begin to realise not my, but our, diverse dreams.

Together, let’s inspire a diverse generation.

Anecdote 1:

Leading the Diversity and Equalities Grant for 75 #BAMEed leaders has been eye opening. At our launch in South London, we caused a stir. BAME students walked past and came back to check out what was going on. They had never seen such a density of black and Asian people together before. The delegates found it entertaining and commented -they only used to seeing a group like this when there is trouble, they think we are starting a riot – but we are creating a revolution.

Anecdote 2:

I have been asked to speak at 3 national events in the last 2 months to speak about Diversity and Equality. When I checked who else was on the line up via the draft programme, there was no BAME representation.   I challenged the organisers and refused to speak unless they recitified this.

Anecdote 3:

There are 27,000 Headteachers in the UK, only 270 are BAME. We believe there is only 1 BAME CEO in the UK school system. Approximately 8% of our teachers are BAME, 1 in 4 of our students are BAME but you only have a 1/100 chance of becoming a BAME Headteacher.

17353139_10158284744495328_913954457801950763_n17353323_10158436575990083_688873141943813177_n

I also blogged via StaffRm #womened about my journey and experience of public speaking: https://staffrm.io/@misswilsey/FPprXtamJI

Hannah, The Hopeful Headteacher

Currently feeling hopeful about:

  • Challenging our school communities to champion the multiplicity of ‘diversities’ and not just ‘diversity’
  • Calling more ‘white allies’ to be change agents and champion #BAMEed and Diverse Leaderssr

Currently reading and thinking about:

Currently feeling grateful for:

  • Jaz Ampaw-Farr for challenging Natalie Scott and I to submit an application for #TEDxNorwichEd – it is ‘Because of You’ my dear!
  • Amjad Ali, Jen Hart, Jaz and Natalie as the #TEDxNorwichEd team  -you are a fab tribe to be part of.
  • Amy Harvey and Leah Stewart – we couldn’t have asked for better coaches and champions.
  • Annemarie Williams – your advice and constructive feedback on my content and delivery but much appreciated.
  • Faye Kilgour, Action Jackson, Nick Corston and Julie Hunter for traveling to Norwich to be cheerleaders us.
  • Everyone online who has tweeted and commented words of encouragement and support.

International Women’s Day 2017: #BeBoldForChange

#IWD17:

International Women’s Day is celebrated on 8th March each year, it is a global celebration of the social, economic, political and cultural achievements of women. The theme for 2017 is #BeBoldForChange. Let’s make #IWD17 a day for our students and schools to reflect on the global progress made to challenge gender inequalities around the world. Use the virtual toolkit to focus discussions, reflections and activities.

iwd17.jpg

#WomenEd:

As a global community that connects existing and aspiring women in education, our aim is simple to support women on their journeys as educators and to collectively challenge some of the systemic barriers that disable women from having choice in their career progression. Our community values champion having courage, working collaboratively and affecting change. This year’s #IWD17 theme really resonates with the #WomenEd community as it is #BeBoldForChange.   The impact of the #WomenEd community is being seen and heard through the testimonials of the educators who have been coached and supported to be #10%braver. Each small step moves us closer to reducing the confidence gap and the pay gap. We are an inclusive community who champion one another’s achievements.

womened

Collaboration:

Our community partnerships and collaborations across the system are enabling women leading in education to grow their tribe and grow their confidence. We are working with two of our partner organisations, and many of our community, on a virtual toolkit for #IWD17 for educators round the world to access and use in their classrooms.

Action Aid:

ActionAid UK works with women and girls across 45 countries to understand and claim their rights, whether that’s the right to education, to run their own business or to live a life free from violence:

“We believe in supporting girls to understand the power they have to challenge and change the world. This toolkit, curated by #WomenEd, is a fantastic way for teachers to energise the girls in their school to be “10% braver” so we are delighted to get involved”.

We are recording a conversation between women’s rights campaigners Jessica Njui from The Africa Youth Trust in Nairobi, a partner of ActionAid and Caroline Jones from ActionAid UK. They will be discussing the question: ‘How can girls #beboldforchange?’ We’re hoping they will be joined by a surprise celebrity guest! The final video will be posted here for you to access and share: http://po.st/IWD2017

Action Aid are currently seeking questions for the campaigners from girls across the country; please send your questions to schools@actionaid.org with the name, age and school of the girls who asked the questions.

Dauntless Daughters:

To celebrate International Women’s Day Worcestershire-based illustrator Steph Green has teamed up with #WomenEd to produce the #BeBoldforChange Virtual Toolkit: which is available to all educators for free!

When her oldest daughter got interested in space, rockets and astronauts, Steph looked around for images that would reflect her child in this role. “There was nothing, so I drew her myself.” says Steph. From the astronaut it snowballed, with Steph drawing a whole crew of Dauntless Daughters. “After I started to share the illustrations on social Media, Hannah from #WomenEd got in touch and asked if I would like to get involved in the toolkit. We really wanted to give the toolkit some personality and so the character Abbie Bold came to life.”

Steph continues, “Every day our daughters encounter little messages and big signs telling them what to do, what items to wear, and the books to read, reinforcing the supposed limitations of being a girl and which box they have to go in. It is 2017 and we say ‘enough’.”

Meet Abbie Bold:

When Hannah Wilson from #WomenEd spoke to Daniel Wardle from the Action Aid Schools’ Team and Dauntless Daughters’ founder Steph Green about the collaboration, they decided that an avatar to personify the #IWD17 theme would capture the hearts and the minds of the educational community.

Abbie Bold is bold by name and bold by nature. She represents all of the young girls in classrooms around the world with bold hopes and dreams for the future. Dreams of smashing the gender stereotypes of how to behave, what to think and what to like.

be-bold-for-change-2

Our Virtual Toolkit:

We asked our contributors to share their motivation for creating a resource to share with the #IWD17 and #WomenEd community:

“I wanted to create resources or vehicles for reflection that would help a group of young girls move forward with purpose and intent. To validate themselves by the thoughts and actions they choose to believe in. I hope they harness the power of perception and look inwards to help them reflect on the future they have the power to create”.  Kiran Satti, primary school teacher, Midlands

 “The resource is designed to get students and even teachers thinking about the importance of women and women as role models. It’s vital that young people have others to look up to and aspire to. Equally, I place importance on them to be able to identify those same qualities and attributes in the everyday ‘real’ people around them so they have ‘real life’ role models to aspire to become”.  Genevieve Bent, Head of Chemistry, London

 “I am contributing to help inspire, educate and inform the female leaders of tomorrow. My resource will encourage wide ranging discussion, airing and challenging stereotypes. I hope it will help students question inequalities they encounter and make bolder choices”. Frances Ashton, secondary school leader, Oxfordshire

“IWD can be just another date in the busy International calendar for teachers to find something interesting to teach. I wanted to contribute to raise the profile of this global issue in an engaging way for the next generation and to help classroom teachers have a resource they can quickly put in place with maximum impact. As a classroom teacher dipping in and finding a resource starts the conversation going about be bold. Sharing how people have used the resource can continue the message. It would be good to ask people to share what they did. Social media is a good starting point, PSHE association may share the link but the Educational press has a far reach meaning maximised awareness of it being available TES and BBC. Sharing the message be bold for change with students helps them realise that they have the ability to change things. This resource enables teachers and students to notice inequality in the world, to consider their opinion and decide upon their response”. Julie Hunter, secondary school leader, Wiltshire

I knew at the age of 14, my passion and destiny was to work in the field of education and invest in next generation leaders.  Everything I do centres around my vision and mission. Use it to define what’s working & what’s not. Strengthen what is working & change what it is not. Acceptance & change are powerful concepts to embrace for all individuals, especially leaders. The resource starts the dialogue in a safe environment.  Hopefully it will equip individuals with the ‘how to’ as well.  It’s all about sowing seeds & enabling them to flourish”. Anita Devi, educational consultant, Buckinghamshire

“Success is driven by expectation and our language can empower or tear down our expectations. By reflecting on and being mindful of the words we use when engaging with challenges. Use the “Reframe: Can’t Don’t and Won’t” video to trigger reflection and discussion with your class or tutor group”. Jaz Ampaw-Farr, educational consultant, Buckinghamshire.

“Based on the Lean In concept of having ‘workplace allies’, the resource hopes to stimulate discussion about how we support, champion and advocate for women in school, group situations and the workplace. It highlights the embedded cultural practices that can hold back or diminish women’s strengths and talents and offers an opportunity to investigate solutions that both women and men can pursue, together. If we can change these habits by highlighting and modelling them with young people as well as adults in schools, then we might be able to break through what we don’t realise is taken for granted as ‘normal’.” Rosanna Raimato, educational consultant, Italy.

 “If we want to improve diversity and equality in terms of leadership in the future, we have to get girls in particular involved in leadership now, while they are forming their ideas about leadership and what it means to them. Our resource is a PowerPoint created by girls aged 7 to 11 to share with teachers based on the girls’ own research. It is a model that schools have used to open up gender equality discussions with staff and pupils. It could support whole school CPD looking at inequality in the classroom or be used as a discussion set of questions for children in PSHW or student council sessions. It is hoped that schools may want to then design and carry out their own questionnaire with their own students”.  Annemarie Williams, Executive Headteacher and CEO, Midlands

 “International Women’s Day is such an important opportunity for all of us, however we identify, to think about how we can be bolder, but also to ask questions about the structures and attitudes which continue to discriminate, particularly against certain ‘groups’ of people. Whose are the voices that are rarely heard in popular debates about feminism? What about those who don’t access the internet? What about the health and income inequalities facing older and/or disabled girls and women (and their families) in the UK, as well as those in other countries? If we want to address child poverty, are we listening to and supporting single mothers? Let’s be 10% bolder, encourage those we teach to be 10% bolder, but let’s also widen and diversify our networks”. Pen Mendonca, Graphic Facilitator, London  

be-bold-change-1

One of our contributors, Yinka Ewuola reflected on “How to be B.O.L.D for change…”

B is for Belief… Beliefs are absolutely everything. “Whether you believe you can, or you believe you can’t, you are absolutely right”. What you believe of yourself is everything about your potential, as you are the only one standing in your own way. How you allow the beliefs of others to impact and change the way you feel about your life, possibilities and expectations is just as important: ‘You can’t do that…’ ‘Girls don’t do that…’ They are the limits of others that they are trying to put on you… and no matter the intention – these will harm you. You need to decide what you believe about you, about whether you are going to be, whatever it is you want to be, and then go act on that. Ask ‘why’ (not to others, but to yourself) you can’t, won’t, shouldn’t do the things that you are working to achieve and then set those limiting beliefs aside for new ones… Believe you are worth it. Believe it will be ok. Believe you deserve to be there and have the good things you are experiencing… Believe change is worth choosing and you will do all you can to make it a reality.

O is for One Step Because we are the queens of plans, which means that we try and work out 26 steps ahead, and if we can’t always see exactly where we are going, then you feel trapped and paralysed and confused. But “The journey of 1000 miles, begins with a baby step” – what you need is just one small step in the right general direction. And then another… And then another… Boldness comes from understanding that smaller steps will lead to bigger, brighter places. Hell, even a step in the wrong direction is better than no step at all – action always beats inaction, and you can always course correct in motion – so be bold and take just one step.

L is for Learning and Leading from the Heart Boldness is a heart set… The word Courage is derived from the word  ‘Cor’ which is the Latin word for heart (as Brené Brown reminds us). So what does that courage look like every day? Speaking honestly from our hearts is a great place to start… It’s also about understanding what’s going on with our fear… It’s about understanding that the fear will come… It’s about knowing, expecting it… Because so long as you don’t let those fears stop you. ‘When fear is what you’re feeling (and you’re still doing), Brave is what you are doing’. But learning is so important for boldness… We become bolder after we fail at things (believe it or not) because failure gives us stepping stones for improvements.

D is for Difference See, because even though we are grown up and off the playground – we are still trying way to hard to fit in. And blend in… And to be small, and hidden, and not to noticeable or leery… But we were born to stand out. Boldness comes from understanding that all those things are unique about you are there for the reason you are here… There is nothing more important than making a difference. And the only way to make a difference is to be different. Remember how to be bold for change. Yinka Ewuola, primary school Chair of Governors, London

Please share the free virtual #BeBoldForChange toolkit for #IWD17 far and wide:

https://drive.google.com/open?id=0B1AxQ9bWcYaXSy02UTBEYjVBSjA

The resources are there to provoke thinking and stimulate discussions in your classrooms and schools. Thank you everyone from the #WomenEd community who has contributed.

Other ways to engage with #IWD17:

Blogging:

Contribute to the #BeBoldForChange #Digimeet on StaffRm on Sunday 5th March.

https://staffrm.io/@misswilsey/xqPZu5VJ7I 

Events:

Attend a #WomenEd #LeadMeet for #IWD17 – we have events taking place simultaneously in Bristol, Cambridge, Leicester, London, Manchester, Nottingham, Uffcolme and The Netherlands on 8th March. We also have regional #WomenEd events on March 4th in London, March 10th in Milton Keynes, March 11th in Coventry, March 25th in Leeds. All of our events are free and listed on Eventbrite, just search #WomenEd.

Tweeting:

Follow the hashtags on Twitter: #IWD17 #BeBoldForChange #womened

abbie and friends.jpg

Hannah, The Hopeful Headteacher

Currently feeling hopeful about:

  • The power of collaboration – I met Steph Green, founder of Dauntless Daughters on twitter 3 weeks ago – what we have curated and she has created in 2 weeks is amazing!

Currently reading and thinking about:

  • I have scan read each of the resouces from the #womened community contributors, I now need to go back and reflect on each one

Currently feeling grateful for:

  • The generosity of my #PLN and the #strongertogether spirit of the educators I am connected with.

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