All the blogs I reviewed this week chimed with me and my core values because they were full of heart and made me stop and think, but more importantly empathise with our fellow professionals. First up is Chris Moyse, a reflective leader who challenges the system’s traditional practices. We know we need to appraise our school staff and support them to develop and perform to their potential, but he questions our methodology in doing this. Chris frames his argument by considering the concerns about recruitment and retention concerns across our profession, and also reflects on managing workloads and wellbeing. He proposes a solution-focused approach, underpinned by a set of values that underpin the culture and ethos of where he works.
A career changer who blogs about being a trainee teacher with a focus on inclusion, Shahina Patel’s writes as both a mother and a teacher. In this post, she reports on attending a @ResearchSEND conference session, where she learns from a parent what her daughter’s experience of being failed by the system was like. In an emotional response to this talk, Shahina considers her own upbringing and experience of “otherness”, and encourages us to question why we label “difference” and do not celebrate “diversity”.
Another trainee teacher blog caught my attention this week. Ele reflects on her SCITT placement breakdown and taking some time out from her training to recalibrate. She digs deep to make sense of went wrong, why she needed to walk away from a fantastic job offer, and how she found the resilience to reapply for teaching roles and restart her PGCE. I have the utmost respect for her honest reflections and am happy to hear she has found the right role, in the right school, with the right support.
Brian Walton, a headteacher in the southwest, uses the metaphor of nature to reflect on the state of our educational landscape. Evoking autumnal leaf fall, the “murmur of starlings” and a “murder of crows”, he pays homage to James Pope, the latest headteacher casualty in our system, as depicted in episode three of School. The much debated show has captured the stark, gritty reality of our broken system. Prompted to muse about life and death by this blog, I was left with the image of roadkill. Our schools are the innocent victims of our politicians’ dangerous driving.
I had the privilege of hearing Ed Finch read this blog live at The Lost Words event in Oxford on Friday night. Health warning: make a cuppa and get the tissues out before you read this one as I sobbed when I heard it and cried again when I read it. The whole evening was a profound artistic experience. First, Robert Macfarlane and Jackie Morris conjured up spells from their highly praised book The Lost Words, punctuating the readings and discussions with live art as Jackie brought nature to life before our eyes. We also listened to beautiful contributions from cancer patients, their families and their carers, each an exploration of life, love and light. Ed closed the event with a love letter to his Diane. The Sheldonian Theatre was lifted as the song she wrote and performed in her music therapy sessions at Sobell House hospice filled the room.