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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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I did my research РI found a role, applied & was offered the role. I then held the power РI 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.

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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.

 

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 ‚ÄúWellbeing Culture‚ÄĚ?

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!

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

I asked everyone to complete these 3 sentences:

  • Human beings grow best when‚Ķ they have the right conditions including space and freedom.
  • Human beings learn best when‚Ķ they have some ownership over their direction and the time/energy to commit to it.
  • Human beings flourish best when‚Ķ 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

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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: ‚Äėto grow, to learn, to flourish‚Äô. 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 ‚Äėnurture hearts and minds‚Äô.

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!

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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.

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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 ‚Äď 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?

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On a wider level, what needs to happen?

‚ÄĘ To make school leadership more sustainable we need to invest in wellbeing and resilience build in activity such as coaching and mentoring.
‚ÄĘ 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.
‚ÄĘ To help school leaders to flourish we need to invest in the development of their leadership capacity.
‚ÄĘ 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.
‚ÄĘ To recapture the soul and put the humanity back into education we need to remember and focus on the ‚Äėnames, not the numbers‚Äô for our children and the ‚Äėsouls, not the roles‚Äô for our staff.

We also need to spend more time on our values as individuals and as communities, ensuring that our values are ‚Äėlived, not laminated‚Äô.

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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.

 

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

Leading Wellbeing and Mental Health: On Visiting MCS

Wellbeing and Mental Health have been a high priority in education for a while.¬†Both have generated a lot of headlines about the state of the UK education system. There are wellbeing and mental health concerns for the children, as emphasised by the NSPCC’s published report today:

  • 50,000 children rang childline last year
  • on average they received a crisis call every 11 minutes
  • this is an 8% increase on last year

Statistics like this really worry me and make me question the status quo:

  • What is going wrong in our schools?
  • How are we¬†addressing these issues with our young people?
  • Why is¬†our school system exasperating wellbeing and mental health issues?

A lot of schools now have reactive interventions to support those who are vulnerable. But, more importantly, how can we be preventative in out strategies?

The beauty of social media is that through #wellbeing #mentalhealth #teacher5aday tweets and blogs I have connected with a community of educators who  not only care, but are being proactive in crowd-sourcing/ cascading strategies and initiatives they are embedding in their schools. This is how I stumbled across Clare Erasmus. In May 2016, I saw a tweet about a #MHteachmeet at Magna Carta School, Staines. I shared it with a few friends and a group of us went down. I was intrigued as I had not seen a #teachmeet with a pastoral focus before.

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The event was brilliant. It blew me away in fact. Nina Jackson was the key note and there followed a series of presentations on mindfulness, yoga, peer mentoring, family outreach, a mental health app designed by the students which showcased the #wellbeing ethos of the MCS. Clare had recently been promoted to Director of Mental Health and Wellbeing; she and her team had created a Wellbeing Zone with a provision of physical and virtual resources to support the community.

Clare and I have stayed in touch since the spring, and I have followed her as she has tweeted and blogged about their journey. She has presented on her research-led strategies  at numerous events including the Mental Health Conference that we hosted at Harris Crystal Palace, funded by the Charlie Waller Memorial Trust and curated by Dr Pooky Knightsmith. Today I visited her, with some Wellbeing colleagues and our HR team from GLF schools to see the  provision in situ.

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What I took away from my visit:

  • Collate the data – the student and staff voice focus is strong and underpins decision making but also gives leverage to get buy in
  • Create the space – MCS is well-provisioned with a suite ¬†of rooms and offices
  • Invest in the training – the staff team have been trained to do yoga instruction, mindfulness, counselling – great CPD for them and brings value to the community
  • Identify role models – the young people have been trained to be Anti-Bullying Ambassadors, Wellbeing Ambassadors and Peer Mentors
  • Use the technology – an app designed by the students and a provision mapping tool have saved time and energy, whilst also breaking down barriers/ stigmas
  • Embed in culture – the different themed days, national awareness weeks, PSHE lessons and competitions include art and film artefacts displayed around the school

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So keep Thursday 25th free as Clare and the team are planning the 2nd #MHTeachmeet t build on the success of last year.

Hannah, The Hopeful Headteacher

Currently feeling hopeful about:

  • Creating a values based education at Aureus School, with #wellbeing at its core

Currently reading and thinking about:

  • The Magna Carta School #wellbeing research which has informed their strategic direction and decision making re preemptive initiatives

Currently feeling grateful for:

  • Clare Erasmus¬†– a visionary when it comes to the strategic leadership of Mental Health and Wellbeing
  • Nicola Lainsbury – what a team these 2 make – great operational insight in to the day to day management of the space, the policies and the student ambassadors
  • Sue Webb – looking forward to working with Sue on embedding a VBE at Aureus School with #Wellbeing at the heart of our values
  • GLF Schools HR team – looking forward to collaborating on a MAT/ TSA wide strategy on how to ensure all of our stakeholders are well

My #Teacher5aday Pledge: 2017

With #wellbeing as a value in our new school community I am keen to embed the #teacher5aday principles in the fabric of Aureus School from day 1. I will strive to model that we can be teachers and leaders but also establish balance in our pursuit of¬†‘work life harmony’.

I want to see¬†our staff and our students ‘thrive’ and ‘flourish’ by creating the conditions¬† needed to nurture a #wellbeing culture.

My pledge:

#Volunteer

  • I will continue to drive the growth of our #WomenEd community and support aspiring leaders through the DfE coaching pledge.
  • I¬†will continue in my role as a¬†Primary Governor as it will give me insight in my role as Headteacher of a Year 7 school.
  • I will support the activity of #BAMEed as it is a movement I believe passionately that will affect change in the system, for the better of all.

#Connect

  • I will maintain my relationships with friends and colleagues in London when I move to Oxford.
  • I will get myself out and about in my new area to meet new people through some of the activities I have pledged to continue/ start.
  • I will grow my friendships with the people I spent my summer in ¬†Tanzania with, both the local teachers and the volunteers.

#Learn

  • I will continue reading professional books by teachers and leaders.
  • I will complete my NPQH and build in¬†visits to ¬†Headteachers I have connected with to learn from their experiences a few years ahead of me.
  • I will join a choir as I love music and singing.

#Notice

  • I will start a daily gratitude journal and continue¬†my Happy Moments: Live, Love, Laugh¬†pot to remind myself of all of the fab things in my life.
  • I will explore the benefits of mindfulness.
  • I will go¬†on more walks to¬†explore my new area.

#Exercise

  • I will ride my bike more.
  • I will find a yoga class to join in Oxford.
  • I will go out dancing more!

Happy 2017 everyone! May this year be full of even more love, luck and laughter.

Hannah, The Hopeful Headteacher

Currently feeling hopeful about:

  • Maintaining some of the changes from last year and making more positive choices to impact my lifestyle and #wellbeing this year.

Currently reading and thinking about:

  • Thrive, Arianna Huffington

Currently feeling grateful for:

  • Martyn Reah for the #teacher5aday pledges.
  • Naomi Ward for the #teacher5aday journal.
  • Viv Grant for the #WinterCalendar.
  • Angela Browne for #NourishEd.
  • Maria Alexander for the #HealthyToolkit.

#Nurture1617: Past, Present & Future

Wow!

What a year?

It seems like it must have been much more than 12 months must have passed since I wrote my #Nurture1516 post! But clearly this goal setting had a positive impact on me and has guided me through my personal and professional journey. I will continue to use the same 5 point format as it seems to have worked thus far in structuring my thinking and my actions: New Opportunities; New Location; New Perspectives; New Freedoms; New Travels.

2015/16:

New Opportunities:

I have had so many doors opened for me this year. Presenting at #TMLondon and SSAT conference took me out of my comfort zone. I have gained a lot through becoming a DfE coach for women leaders.

New Location:

I interviewed for 2 roles in Bristol and 1 in Bath, I was convinced I would end up back in the West Country and I have enjoyed connecting with the edu-community in the SW. However, the stars aligned and have helped me leave London but will be taking me to a new place to explore and settle in…

New Perspectives:

Supporting the launch of #BAMEed, co-founded by Allana Gay and Amjad Ali has helped my insight into the barriers facing the system. It has also helped me support some of my coachees who are faced with the challenges of inter-sectionality.

New Freedoms:

I have really enjoyed having an outward-facing, autonomous role for a year. It has been weird not teaching, not having a timetable, not having any duties, not being based in a school, but it has been liberating getting out and about. I have met so many brilliant educators, initiated alot of collaborative partnerships, attended some thought-provoking events.

New Travels:

Tanzania and my LRTT experience was unexpected. I had not planned my summer and had it not been for a conversation on a sunny Friday afternoon, following a #womened networking event last July I would not have experienced the brilliant summer I had. A summer that reconnected me to my vocation and reminded me why I teach. I also met a great group of teachers from the UK and from Njombe who will be lifelong friends.

2016/17:

New Opportunities:

Well they don’t come much bigger than starting a school from scratch! I have a big bit of white paper laid out in front of me. My brain is like spaghetti junction, a web of ideas for short, medium and long term at Aureus. I am excited to start making sense of them and planning the strategy to support us in our journey to our opening in September. May 8th is our first landmark as we get the keys and the site is signed over to us that day.

New Location:

I will leave London at Easter and re-locate to Oxfordshire, I am not quite sure where yet, but I am looking forward to exploring and laying down some new roots. When  drive to the school site in Didcot, surrounded by an expanse of green fields and an endless blue sky, I feel a shift in my soul. I am excited to have a change of scene and a change of pace.

New Perspectives:

A new role, means a new CEO, a new boss and a new culture Рall will bring new perspectives and new experiences. Equally as a Headteacher I am excited about creating a school community that finds solutions for some of the systemic barriers that #womened and #BAMEed criticises.

New Freedoms:

As a Headteacher and a Regional Director I am looking forward to the responsibility of decision making. The buck stopping with me, does not scare me, but thrills me as it is empowering. I can’t wait to¬†make some changes to things that have frustrated me in previous roles and contexts.

New Travels:

I am starting the new year as I mean to go on – with a trip to Northern Ireland. Following a wedding in Lusty Bay, I will be catching up with friends, old and new in Belfast. Easter takes me to Canada to the #ulead17 conference¬†in Lake Louise and a mini-break in Calgary with my best friend. Who knows where I will end up next summer as it is dependent on how ready we are for opening but Japan and Iceland are still towards the top of my list of places I want to visit…

Hannah, The Hopeful Headteacher

Currently feeling hopeful about:

  • A new year, a new role, a new chapter!

Currently reading and thinking about:

  • Thrive, Arianna Huffington

Currently feeling grateful for:

  • The overwhelming¬†support of the #womened community.
  • Having the grit, determination and resilience to believe in things happening for a reason.
  • Martin Giles for introducing me to my new boss, Jon Chaloner for taking me in to the GLF family.

#WinterCalendar: Getting Perspective

When Viv Grant asked me to contribute a #wellbeing blog for the #WinterCalendar, a collaboration with #Teacher5aday, I didn’t realise quite how cathartic it would be. I reflected on the themes she wanted reflections on and offered to one on aligning yourself with your values. I entitled it ‘Getting Perspective’ as that is what I have spent a year doing.

I dug deep, to my core, and I shared. I believe in honesty, transparency and authenticity, so I modelled it. My professional contacts may choose to see the confident, composed version of me I present, but my personal contacts know that this does not mean that I do not have my own struggles and challenges to find solutions to. I have navigated some rough seas this year, but the experience has made me a better sailor as I set off on a new course.

Thank you to everyone who has commented and tweeted that the post resonated with you. I am touched at the feedback and am delighted to be shortlisted for the #WinterCalendar blog award.

My reflections are re-posted here:

12 months ago I was a shell. I was constantly, tired, stressed and questioning what I was doing.

I was constantly asking myself: Why are you working so hard? Why is good never good enough? Why does the workload never reduce? Why am I losing myself in this role?

My friends and family were worried about me, but they all tiptoed around me for fear of upsetting me, for fear of having their heads ripped off for speaking the truth.

I vocalised my frustration and unhappiness at work but I could not articulate what it was precisely that was making me feel like this.

I was beginning to lose control. I was beginning to lose myself. So I resigned.

I was told I was committing career suicide. To the contrary I was committing career salvation.

A week up a mountain, skiing with the family gave me perspective. The snow, the sky, the fresh air gave me much-needed headspace.

I had been asking the wrong questions, I should have been asking: Why did I become a teacher? Why do I lead? Why am I feeling frustrated?

The answer was simple: my values were being compromised and without values who are we?

So go outside this Christmas, go for a walk, fill your lungs with fresh air, return to your why and you will feel the weight lift.

Hannah, The Hopeful Headteacher

Currently feeling hopeful about:

  • Contributing to a #Wellbeing¬†think tank¬†with Viv Grant, Kathryn Lovewell, Sue Webb and Steve Russell.
  • Supporting Angie Browne with the launch of #NourishEd and going to the #SpringSupper.

Currently reading and thinking about:

  • Thrive, Arianna Huffington

Currently feeling grateful for:

  • Viv Grant for initiating the #WinterCalendar and Headteacher Nurture Meals – looking forward to attending the March one.