I’m having a moment. I saw one word yesterday and it’s decided to mess with my head. In truth there’s not that much to fiddle with.
@Hywel_Roberts delivered a Friday the 13th INSET yesterday that covered many things but it is his powerful reference to CONNECTIONS that are keeping me up tonight to write this.
How do we make sense of and navigate our worlds? How do we make the right links? As a class teacher this is vital stuff but it is in the context of school leadership that I keep thinking about this.
Being a headteacher is not the easiest of jobs (violin please). It is about leading your school through the THUNDERSNOW of education and doing it in a way that empowers everyone else around you. At times this is a seamlessly easy process… it just happens. Things unfold and all is well and you are able to bring everyone together and create a sense of unity. It is a beautiful thing. As a headteacher trying to ‘be connected’ is key. It ain’t easy. It may even have something to do with luck.
Pebbles our 15 year old cat has a habit of sitting outside our bedroom door at around 7 everyday. She has a distinctive yowl, a kind of high pitched ‘Rrrrrrrr Reet Petite’ as she sets out her demands for food. Now, midweek this is a cheap alarm clock, I can handle it. At the weekends I tend to turn to my wife and mumble , “She’s your cat” so that I don’t have to make the trek to the kitchen. After food Pebbles comes a prancing in to our bedroom purring that Jackie Wilson song:
Well, lookabell, lookabell, lookabell, lookabell
Lookabell, lookabell, lookabell
“It’s 7 o clock you GET! Git out of my face!”
One day Pebbles will meet the great Cat in the Sky, she will be gone and this connection will suddenly mean something else to me. I will likely miss it and remember it differently. A warm, demanding relationship will be gone.
How do we link in to our staff as school leaders? As we run down our pathways or drive across the many roads… how do we notice the small things that link us to our environment? How do we avoid trampling over them so that they never grow? You see these connections are absolutely key to the school leader. Connecting your school to people and places is a vital part of growing an effective school. If we can’t do it then we are all just Robinson Crusoe’s sat on our islands with nothing but cold dark water between us.
It is also the difficult links that we need to appreciate. The yowling of others we want to ignore or shut-up. Some times the sanctuary of an isolated island seems like paradise. How do we turn these discordant cacophonies of hoots,screams, cackles and wails in to songs in harmony within our schools? That is often the leaders challenge.
We have to go looking for the connections. As a school leader we need to physically snap the link pins together and join people to places and places to people. We have to understand human relationship in all their glory and messiness. At the centre is the school. Schools are full of cracks and we need to look in to them and not be afraid of what they may hold.
If I was to ‘Mantle of the Expert this’ I would be saying, “Right, we’ve been asked to run this school… Is that alright? I want you to make a list of what you will need to survive in there.”
Top of my list? Clean ears, an open mind and my glasses.