I went to a conference once…I saw a headteacher that made me think, he distracted me…I was meant to be talking in a small break out group about parental engagement, I think I did ok, but I was a bit distracted, thinking about his talk…and the small fact of having @michealT1979 and @Jack_Marwood on the front row writing notes and grinning at me. However, he’s done it again…he’s only gone and made me think…and some people might consider that a bad thing, as it tends to precipitate action. Which makes people around me nervous.
I’ll keep it short. Read their blogs, then come back to mine.
As a new head, following on from someone I admire hugely who was head for 26 years, the past term has been challenging, with more than a few curve balls thrown in for good measure. I left my local MPs office on Friday and headed home a great deal earlier than I usually headed home…it was a good start and I felt pleased that he was so engaging and eager to help with a rather huge issue I have regarding the local council – more to follow if they don’t stop being unfair and aggressive in their approach to our differing points of view. Then I read his blog and reflected.
Last Sunday, I had gone through my usual routine, ending with family dinner. My wife pointed out that I was much more distracted now, even during dinner as I adopted a rather vacant stare and smiled politely…THAT went down well. She also pointed out that she felt the Governors had taken the proverbial when setting out my starting salary despite raising it when I pointed out that it amounted to an extra £20 per month after tax. But in these troubled times a raise is unlikely & not something to consider when looking at “efficiencies”! (A job interview for Dubai still lies on my desk offering £20k more tax free, with accommodation, flights and school places for my children, but I won’t be going.) She also pointed out that the meetings started too late for me to be effective and that it destroyed me for the rest of the week – all fair. Something I am also mindful of when considering that my governors are volunteers with young children and full time jobs too! It must be hard for them too!
So, when I read Simon’s blog, it made me consider a few things…but I didn’t engage fully in the thread that it started, despite some people I know to be brilliant taking part. I felt guilty, but why? I mean, for goodness sake, I was taking my children swimming! I spent a lovely 90mins with my children and then had lunch with them…twitter? 45 notifications. ..all valid, all worthwhile, but I starred a couple and then wondered what on earth I was doing! I tried to make a couple of comments but couldn’t keep up, so let it slide. We had friends visiting, so the rest of the afternoon went by in a blur of teaching my children how to chop vegetables properly without losing digits…and me drinking beer with a friend, despite the fact that he supports Spurs, the first team to make me cry over sport! (think 1981 FA cup final replay and you have it!) It was a wonderful evening filled with red wine, lasagna, light sabres, the boys (us included) making dens and lots of laughter. Today continued with coaching hockey to my daughter’s age group at 9am, although, I will admit to wistfully looking at the Whatsapp thread, hoping for a cancellation as the boys had had at a different site. It didn’t come. But I loved it and ran around like a man possessed, because, having had shoulder reconstruction surgery, I can now exercise fully. I had a great time. One of the coaches remarked that I had decent skills – she has no idea that I played top division National League in 1992 or for British Colleges, nor do the girls – they don’t need to know. I came home and we read books, played chess and watched films in the afternoon – no work…. despite the fact that my wife is hugely stressed with her work teaching pupil premium children who all have additional needs and keeps being reminded that as she is UPS3 she needs to offer more…so we both have a tendency to eat, breathe, sleep work.
But what brought it home to me was my daughter. She is just 11, works hard and is unassuming, but has talent to spare in writing, music and some sports. (I’m a bit proud of her) She made me stop and think today. Everyone had gone out and I didn’t hear them come back, I’d tried everything to get rid of my frustrations, running, drinking and finally, playing my guitar badly, but was just letting loose…I was singing. (I have history with singing…I changed school in Y5 having nearly being expelled…new school the Ht decided that I couldn’t sing, and told me as much in front of everyone – I knew better…his face when seeing me do a solo in Salford Cathedral was priceless!) yes…I was singing, and I’m ok…no better, but I was letting rip. All my frustrations , all my anger, pain and grumpiness was being expressed at top volume…(4 Seasons in one day if you must know!) As I wailed, I turned around to see them looking at me…my son clapping, my wife smiling wryly and my daughter pensive. At bedtime we talked. We talked in a way that we haven’t since I’ve taken on a headship, and she has grown up in that time. She effectively said that I limit myself. She saw me in a different light today – she has never seen me display my skills at hockey and was proud of me. She certainly has never heard me pour my heart out singing and said that I should do it more and stop hiding…yep…stop hiding.
Where do you go with that as a Dad and a Ht? STOP HIDING? STOP HIDING? STOP HIDING!
I don’t know…but I do know that they & I come first. Much as I love the school, the children and the staff, I come first, because in being fulfilled, my family benefit, I’m happier and the school/children benefit.
BUT, stop hiding?
Brutal in the way only a pre teenager can be.
How many of us do this as we get older? How many of us limit ourselves because of fear of failure or fear of peers and their opinions? We have so many talents but smother it in fear…let it loose…
Please, don’t look back in anger and wish things different, don’t look back in anger I heard you say.