A ship in harbor is safe, but that is not what ships are built for – John A. Shedd
Well, here is my FIRST blog post!
I have always wanted to write a blog; to spark discussion, critical thinking and of course for general waffling on purposes (something that I am very good at). I suppose that starting a blog is not the biggest risk I have taken; but whilst setting my page up I noticed an old flame (we all know Mr or Mrs Self Doubt) had made an appearance.
It didn’t take me long to banish the demon away. I immediately turned to the wonderful #EduTwitter where there is always a wealth of support from fellow colleagues. In my mind, I had already decided to make a page but a simple tweet with 2 initial supporters was enough for me to get going! (More on why I love #EduTwitter later).
This led me to think about how quickly I had made the decision, the risks I had taken over the last couple of years, how many risks educators take on a daily basis, the usefulness of risks and risks in general. I thought about how incredibly important it is that we encourage children to take risks because they support decision making skills and an awareness of boundaries. (Yes I covered the whole topic in my mind- which is why I will be doing a few blog posts about risk taking).
My sporadic mind quickly began thinking about how I took the risk last year to leave a school I once loved. I spent endless days and nights mulling over the idea and questioning my loyalties all whilst battling with my moral purpose. My moral purpose was suggesting that I was not happy with the way that mainstream was going. My moral purpose was growing multiple monster heads a day!
I began to feel that instead of serving our young people, mainstream settings (with the best intentions) were actually doing a disservice to some of our most vulnerable children. Children who can not access age related test papers, regulate their emotions or ‘sit as smart as soldiers’ amongst a whole host of other things.
(I will never understand how sitting in such a ‘smart’ way contributes to learning. Particularly when many children lack core stability because of their childhood experiences, but that is a rant for another day).
Where teachers are forced to cater for the majority because their staffing and funding is being cut. An endless focus on data, performance, and ever increasing pressures on staff were (and still are) resting on the shoulders of these little ones. I was no longer able to act in line with my core beliefs and values consistently. Time for building precious relationships with the children in my care seemed to erode at a rapid rate, making me deeply upset.
I wasn’t the only one, and I knew there were people on #EduTwitter who felt the same. I remember having serious discussions with my oldest teacher friend about how we could set up a small school in an inner city. We were not sure how we would set one up but we liked to dream. Our school was going to focus on educating the whole child, give tools to support mental health and nurture children’s individual differences. We discussed how we would develop our team. A team where everyone stood together for the rights of children and had the same end goal in mind. We would have a morally driven recruitment process. We were also willing to stand up to pesky (please forgive me) inspectors if they wondered why we were not focussing whole heartedly on ‘age related expectations’. I digressed and during this time, I began interacting more than usual on EduTwitter.
That is when I started to follow the wonderful SEMH setting which I now work for and I was so sure that it was too good to be true. How did school’s like the one in my and my oldest teacher friends dream exist without our knowing?! They had nicked our idea- we definitely thought of it first ha ha! A job came up and I was scared to apply. I was back to questioning my loyalties and determined to keep fighting the mainstream battle to make a difference. However, the itch needed scratching, and so I decided to visit.
What I saw amazed me. I immediately began the application when I got home and it was by far the easiest letter of interest I have ever written. Why? I had found where I belong and it was written from the heart. In fact here is a quote from said letter of interest: ‘I left your school in admiration of the selfless work that your team do each day and with a feeling that my core beliefs were brought to life’. I still stand by this quote- everyday is amazing and we ALL make a difference with each child at the centre of everything we do. Each action has a moral justification and for this I am so grateful.
Now I am not suggesting we all go ahead and take random risks without prior thought. Upon self-reflection, I used to over analyse and think through everything with a fine tooth comb- particularly when it came to my work. Long term, this is unsustainable and doesn’t do us any favours. I am, and always will be 100% loyal and dedicated to my duty as an educator, leader and colleague. However, this quality can sometimes make us reluctant to take risks for the ‘greater good’. The fact of the matter in that situation was that I could no longer make the impact that I wanted to in my old environment.
What I AM suggesting, is that sometimes it is necessary to listen to your heart.
Follow your passions, remain curious and fight for what you believe in. Don’t lose that sense of moral purpose.
Questions to ponder:
What are your thoughts on risk taking? Have you been in a similar situation? What impact does risk taking have in an educational setting? How should risks be calculated? Do you agree that children should be taught to take risks? What should the focus of my next post be?
I would love to hear your contributions, reflections or constructive criticism.
Thanks for stopping by! 🌱⭐️🌱