A week in education can be many sparks of time, fast, slow but there’s always an end.. here’s my reflection on last week.
This week there have been times I have felt like a stranded astronaut staring out at the Earth from the Moon. An observer trying to fathom the complexity of something familiar from a place so alien upon which there is no escape.
As I spilled out of bed at 3am, after a sleepless night, on Monday morning I went into the familiar ‘get it done’ trance that many head teachers develop over the years. It’s focussed on a narrow principle of passing time without a major cock-up.
I arrive at my school for 4:40am to see it silently resplendent- feeling like I am the only person awake in the world… only to see my business manager speed past on her usual early morning run, she opens the school and runs off into the distance.
Three hours later… I was about to go live on Good Morning Britain and the person opening up the rest of my school tripped the alarm system in one of the buildings. Here I was, about to be interviewed about a complex issue that divided the nation live on national television to the back drop of a ranting Piers Morgan and all I could hear was alarm bells ringing… Maybe it was an omen…
My bad hair cut made it on to the live TV interview and then the children began to roll and bounce in to the school grounds, perfectly socially distanced- in direct contrast to the crowded beaches from the weekend before. This was soon to be my first lesson, older children were better at social distancing than anyone was giving them credit for. Following the fake Banksy yellow lines measured out around the building they kept to the rules we had set out and I began to breath a little easier. Parents smiled and thanked us. There was something special in the air, a familiar chirpy hug that followed the strictest of socially responsible guidance. It’s as though England will never be the same, our queues have been high-jacked and the invisible barrier held together with stiff upper lip has clashed with the unfamiliar need to hold and hug people, even strangers. As I struggled with meeting these wonderful people unable to offer a high five to children or a hand shake it mattered little because people are KIND, people take the time to speak to you… to thank you. That is all the hugging I have ever needed.
Over the lockdown I have noticed the world around me in ways I had ignored so often. A discordant alluring orchestra of song in the garden, the brutal whip of wind through the trees and the explosion of sound within a neighbourhood almost extinct of engines. When children begin to return to school in numbers the very fabric transforms. Those once dark corridors with all the purpose of an unplugged fridge, begin to echo to laughter, voice, movement and light. The playground screeches and the sunlight seems to warm you to the bone. Life, makes a little more sense in a school that wakes up- purpose comes flooding home. Schools without people are the tumbleweed of existence.
The weary head teacher knows that this moment, this brief and addictive euphoria, will fade to longing. There will be the complaints…
Why are they with X? Well, they won’t eat that! Why has a teacher not replied to my child’s blog? I didn’t know that when I said ‘No’ it meant I wouldn’t be offered a place…
Pick up your weary body and keep going. Be inspired by those around you who are fighting with you on this. Know this, head teacher, you are little without your team. They have planned, and re planned, they have gone above and beyond. You may be finding the sleep a little harder than usual, you may worry about all those things you have no control over but they have your back and that is all we really need to know.
The sturdy blackthorn of the shillelagh that is the perfect companion when walking the steepest of hills could have beaten you down driven by preachers who see a different way. But, I have found nothing but firm reassurance from my Staff- with us each an every step despite the fear and the resistance that is everywhere and because of this we are a safer place for children- because of this we are secure on what we need to do including closing if we feel unsafe.
It was an incredible week.