In the second instalment of our series following the impacts of lockdown on the personal and professional lives of educators, Debra Rutley opens up her #lockdowndiary
I’m determined to keep to my usual routine as much as possible, so each day starts early.
I think it’s incredibly important that we maintain our networks and sense of community, so first thing each day I check Twitter and my Whatsapp notifications. I’m part of an AP CEO group and the support and generosity shown by these colleagues has been invaluable. The group also feeds back to the DfE so I’m hopeful that we’re doing our bit to influence their thinking.
Next, I check the daily title on Hannah Wilson’s #DailyWritingChallenge and start to gather my thoughts for my daily blog before my morning call with our school leaders. We set our priorities for the day and reflect on emerging issues and government announcements.
On Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings, many of my team volunteer to deliver food to our students and their families. I like to join them as much as possible so today I head over to Waddesdon Manor. We’d begun to develop our relationship with the Rothschild Foundation before lockdown happened, so when they asked how they could help I suggested they could provide food for our families, and they’ve been cooking 180 families three meals a week out of their kitchens in there ever since!
I hope this new understanding of one another’s contexts continues beyond this crisis
Next, it’s the SLT video call, where we discuss what’s happening across the MAT. We start each meeting with a check-in that is personal, rather than work-related. Today our questions were: how are you? What are you missing the most? What are you most grateful for? It’s an opportunity to hear about how their lives are going beyond work, and their reflections help me to remember that everyone is experiencing lockdown differently. We all have our own challenges during this period, and to do our colleagues justice, we need to be able to understand and empathise with their unique situations, whether that’s looking after young children, or being lonely because they live on their own.
Each day throws up a host of challenges well beyond the realms of education. Tuesday alone, SLT helped families who have literally nothing at home (nothing to eat and nothing to entertain themselves with), bereaved young people and the police. Some students are refusing to stay at home and are continuing to meet in public places. When this happens the police report it to us, and it’s up to us to pick them up and take them home.
In the afternoons, I join the daily Covid meeting with the Local Authority, including representatives from all education phases, AP and special, along with colleagues from health, social care and the central SEND team. This meeting gives us all an opportunity to reflect on the work of our colleagues, share resources and offer support where necessary. We approach everything collaboratively, making sure we’re not duplicating effort or reinventing the wheel. It is good to see these new ways of working emerging, and I hope this new understanding of one another’s contexts continues beyond this crisis.
On Thursday I had a meeting with the Buckinghamshire Educational Psychologist team about the website we have developed with them to support teacher wellbeing. I’m proud that my colleagues across the county have been so open to learning from AP during this time, and I hope these new relationships will make us stronger as we enter the next phase of this crisis and begin the difficult process of re-opening all of our schools.
In the evenings, I sit down and write my 500-word blog for the #DailyWritingChallenge. I have never written this much before. The pace is exhilarating and the process is deeply cathartic. Many of my blogs are open letters written to my staff, the Aspire family. Like this diary, when this time is over I will have these pieces to look back on and remind myself that amongst all of the pain and suffering, there were also moments of beauty, love, and tremendous strength of human spirit.