Why I’m Feeling Optimistic

Today was the first day back at my school.  Over the Summer there was been a huge amount of work going on, new ICT, moving the department into a new block, sorting/organising/clearing out the old maths store area, thinking about curriculum changes for the next year (and beyond) etc.  I sat this morning for the annual SLT update and setting the vision for the year and felt relaxed but focussed.  I wasn’t stressed about results, or all the work that needed to get done.  I’d even managed to sleep well last night, which for the first day of term is pretty much unheard of!

I sat with my team later in the day, and said the same phrase I’ve said every year that I’ve been a head of department, and this is now the 7th year in that role.  The phrase was “I’m really excited about what we are going to achieve this year”.  I’m sure if you are reading this as a middle or senior leader you will have said this yourself on more than one occasion.  If you are reading this as a non-leader within your school you’ll have probably heard if a fair few times.  For the first time in about 3 years it felt wonderful to actually mean it again.  I am genuinely excited and looking forward to what we are going to achieve this year.  Here are a few reasons why:

  1. We have a crystal clear vision from our SLT about what our core purpose is, and it is simple and easy to remember.  This included a clear message about making sure we as class teachers are able to focus on teaching and learning.
  2. I felt a real sense that everyone within the leadership team at all levels is actually pulling in the same direction.
  3. We are coming off the back of a year when the results across the school were really brilliant, and we spent time this morning celebrating this with loads of rounds of applause for individuals and teams.
  4. I now have a clear vision again of what I want my team to develop this year about our teaching and learning.
  5. I am confident that my team is all pulling together, is supportive, encouraging, focused and is packed full of really good quality teachers.
  6. I have spent time pausing and reflecting on my own teaching, and am focused on what I need to do to improve.
  7. The bigger picture has a secretary of state who is making the right noises about leaving the curriculum alone for a while and focusing on issues like recruitment, retention, work life balance, pay and conditions.
  8. We have an inspectorate that are also changing some of the foci to include things work-life balance.

Over the last 9 months I’ve been searching for my mojo.  I’d lost it for a while.  Changing schools has potentially saved my career, and it is great to be able to start a year with a real feeling of positivity about not just my future, but also that of the team I lead and the students I teach.

If you are not quite feeling it yet, you could perhaps try some of the following:
1) Remember to take some time every day to find that magic moment with a student or colleague that really brightened your day, that gave you that buzz, the butterflies in your stomach.
2) Look for someone you can talk pedagogy with and reflect on how you could improve your teaching in one or two key areas (more than this and it won’t have long term impact).
3) Take time to read, not just for work purposes but to relax and switch off.
4) Make sure you take time for you so that the job we do doesn’t become all consuming.
5) Get to a teaching conference and listen to some of the amazing people who have helped to re-invigorate my love of teaching and inspired me to do better.

I hope all those who read this are able to enjoy a wonderful year in this great profession of ours.