#DailyWritingChallenge Day 72: Abundance

Abundance means plenty, or a very large quantity of something. It is the innate tendency of nature and of life to manifest, grow, and become more. It is the tendency of the life force to produce more, and create more of everything.

To have an abundance of something is to have more than you need. It’s often used to describe positive qualities, such as “an abundance of love.” Abundance is the opposite of scarcity.

Do you ever have a word that keeps showing up?

A word that isn’t in your everyday vocabulary.

A word that isn’t one you use, that keeps appearing in conversations, in things you read and in things you hear?

That is ‘abundance’ for me. It has been spotlighted in the last few weeks and I am intrigued. I am curious about its symbolism and significance.

Abundance is not confined to money. It isn’t tangible. It’s a perception — a state of mind.

Abundance is the relationship we have with ourselves and the world.

Reflective questions to consider:

Am I satisfied with myself? Am I satisfied with my place in the world? If not, what changes can I make to reach that satisfaction? How can I leverage my community for help? 

abundance 3

So I have been exploring what this word means to me and my life as it shows up. I have shared below 8 quotes I am musing on and created 8 questions I am exploring as a consequence for you to reflect on. Perhaps you may engage with them in your journal or as a vision board.

What intentions am I putting out to the universe?

“When you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it”.

Paulo Coelho

Am I fulfilled and serving my purpose?

“Doing what you want is the cornerstone of having abundance in your life”.

Wayne Dyer

What limits am I putting on myself?

“The key to abundance is meeting limited circumstances with unlimited thoughts”.

Marianne Williamson  

What do I need to let go of?

“As I let go of the need to arrange my life, the universe brings abundant good to me”.

Deepak Chopra

How impactful is my inner work?

“Abundance comes from within, it comes from thought, intention, attention and expectation”. 

Deepak Chopra

What is my relationship with me?

“A flow of happiness and abundance will manifest when you have reached the deepest level of yourself”.

Deepak Chopra

Am I tuned into my soul?

“Abundance is not something we acquire, it is something we tune into”.

Wayne Dyer  

Am I enough?

“Abundance is not a number or acquisition. It is the simple recognition of enoughness”.

Alan Cohen

Deepak Chopra hosts a 21 Day Abundance Challenge which you can follow and commit to. I have been told it helps you to visualise what you want the universe to manifest for you. You can find out more here. 

I will leave you with 12 Beliefs for Manifesting Abundance that I found as I was reading around the subject:

1. Begin from a place of love.

2. Believe beyond your five senses.

3. Practice non-attachment and learn to allow.

4. Place yourself in highly vibrational circumstances.

5.Understand the difference between inspired and fear-based action.

6.Let go of money beliefs that no longer serve you.

7. Spend money, but don’t waste it.

8. Visualize your end game.

9. Appreciate debt and abundance equally.

10. Declutter your environment.

11. Get inspired by your surroundings.

12. Love your money.

abundance 2

 

 

#DailyWritingChallenge Day 70: Recovery – an anonymous blog

How do you recover from loss? The loss of a friend, the loss of structure, the loss of normality and a timeline filled with bereavements.

I am still recovering. I am hoping time will heal, I am hoping getting back to a sense of normality will help.

On Monday 25th May at 7:00 am, I got a phone call from my sister telling me that someone I knew for over fifteen years, who was a colleague and a friend for two years, passed away.

At that point I knew far too many who lost loved ones to Covid-19. I had just recovered from Covid-19 and was not ready for the pain of losing a friend, someone I saw almost every day to Covid-19. It really hit me! I remember how hard I sobbed as I was telling another friend and colleague. I have tears streaming down my face as I am writing this.

As educators, parents and caregivers, we worry about recovery for the children in our care. School leaders have tasked their staff with the responsibility of planning a recovery curriculum. Parents and caregivers are occupied with getting their children through unscathed. But it is crucial that we recuperate, rest and refuel in order to help the little human beings in our care to recover.

I hope school leaders take that into consideration. This is not the time to play lip service to staff well being. Balancing student progress and staff well being will be more challenging than ever. There are some people who think that teachers have been off work for the past 13 weeks but we know that is not true. In fact, it has been a very challenging time for some, juggling home and school responsibilities at the same time, in the same space can be very demanding. Then there are the staff members who have suffered a loss and need healing but who may not take the necessary time to fully recover because they want to help their students progress. We must look out for them, we must look out for one another as well as we look out for our students.

When asked about how I am coping with the lockdown, my answer is always the same ‘it’s been a blessing in disguise’. And although this is still true in terms of the strengthening of our connections as a family, I am fatigued. My days and weeks have blurred into one. I am now, more so than ever, craving for a sense of normality then something will happen to remind me how blessed I am. So I am choosing to be grateful.

I went into school yesterday and as I was clearing out my desk I found a packet of my friend’s favourite biscuit. That was the last tangible thing he gave me. The sense of loss hit me again, but I am holding on to many fond memories I have of him. My friend, Hassan Farah, was like a parent, a mentor and confidant to me. He guided, changed and shaped the lives of so many young people. His kindness and wisdom was unmatched. The impact he has had on me and so many others is immeasurable. He was very much loved and respected by all. He was a champion for so many and I miss him dearly.

So, like I said, I am still recovering, I am hoping time will heal, I am hoping getting back to a sense of normality will help.

recovery 5

 

#DailyWritingChallenge Day 71: Balance

noun. an even distribution of weight enabling someone or something to remain upright and steady; a situation in which different elements are equal or in the correct proportions.
verb. put (something) in a steady position so that it does not fall; offset or compare the value of (one thing) with another.
Synonyms. parity… equity… equilibrium evenness… symmetry… equipoise… correspondence… uniformity… equality… equivalence… similarity… levelness… parallelism… comparability.
Antonym. imbalance.
I am a juggler, a mult-tasker. I can shoe-horn time into a packed schedule, I can add one more thing to my to do list, I can dig deeper and find a little bit more energy. But then I hit the wall, I crash and burn. My house of cards comes toppling down.
Lockdown has taught me many things, but finding balance has been one of them:
Balance between what we can control, what we cannot control.
Balance between what is certain, and what is uncertain.
Balance between what is stable, and what is unstable.
Balance between what we want and what we need.
Balance between what serves us and what serves others.
“Work is a rubber ball. If you drop it, it will bounce back. The other 4 balls: family, health, friends, integrity – are made of glass. If you drop one of these, it will be irrevocably scuffed, nicked, perhaps even shattered”.
Gary Keller 
Balance is something we do. Balance is something we seek. Balance is something we feel. Balance is something we strive to be.
To balance:
We juggle our lives each day – we balance our commitments, we balance our time, we balance our energy.
“Balance is not something you find, it is something you create”.
Jana Kinsgford
To be balanced:
We strive to lead lives that are peaceful and harmonious – we balance ourselves physically, mentally and emotionally.
“Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance you must keep moving”.
Albert Einstein
Imbalance/ In-balance:
We sometimes let the balance go in favour of another thing – we stay up late, we eat too much, we work too hard, we party too hard.
“Live a life that is well-balanced; don’t do things in excess”.
Daniel Smith
Counter-balance:
We consciously address the imbalance/ in-balance – we supplement the deficit, we reallocate the weights.
“Life is all about balance. You don’t always need to be getting stuff done. Sometimes it’s perfectly okay, and absolutely necessary, to shut down, to kick back and to do nothing”. Lori Deschene
Re-balance:
We restore – we adjust, we review what is in abundance and what is in deficit.
“There is no such thing as work-life balance – it is all life.
The balance has to be within you”.
Sadhguru
Balance is something we need to constantly work out. We need to reflect. We need to review. We need to refine. We need to readjust.
Balance | Life balance quotes, Yoga quotes balance, Balance quotes

#DailyWritingChallenge Day 69: Leadership

noun. the action of leading a group of people or an organization; the state or position of being a leader; the leaders of an organization, country. 
Leadership is both a research area and a practical skill encompassing the ability of an individual or organization to “lead” or guide other individuals, teams, or entire organizations. 
My Leadership Lens:
Leadership is a massive topic, and something I am very passionate about. I could talk about Leadership for hours and write thousands of words on it, so I will focus on an area I am working on specifically in my new role as an Independent Leadership Development Facilitator and Consultant – Leadership Presence.
My Leadership Footprint:
I have been a HOD, a HOY, an AHT, a DHT, a HT and an EHT. I am a SLE and a SLE train the trainer. I have done my NPQSL and NPQH, I was due to do my NPQEL. I have been a Governor and a Trustee. I have Co-Founded #WomenEd #DiverseEd #OxonMWHB #OxWomenLeaders #LeanInGirlsUK.
My leadership trait surfaced at an early age, yes I was a little girl who was told she was ‘bossy’.
Image
My Leadership Journey:
My career has been very linear, and I was promoted every year for 18 years. I have stepped aside and moved horizontally a few times to take on new roles in new schools, but I have been paid more as the remit or the school was bigger. Within a term of moving I have been promoted. I have negotiated at every stage of my career and each time I have taken a leap of faith, I have been brave, it has paid off.
My Leadership Style:
I am a dynamic leader, I lead with integrity, values and ethics. I lead as a team leader, a line manager, a coach and a mentor. I am an authentic leader, I lead with courage and embrace my vulnerability. I am an emotionally intelligent and empathetic leader, I lead with compassion.  I am a disruptive leader and I pioneer new ideas and trailblaze different ways of working and being. I am a heart-leader.
Daniel Goleman Quote: “Gifted leadership occurs when heart and ...
My Leadership Role:
I love learning and I tweet, talk, read and write about leadership. Leaving a full time, secure and stable role, I am enjoying having more time and energy to read and reflect. I am halfway through my MA in Education where I am looking at flexible working in schools. I am training to be a Resilient Leader Elements  consultant. I am also really excited to be one of Diana Osagie’s associates for the Academy of Women Leaders.
Leadership Elements and Facets:
In the Resilient Leaders Elements training I am doing there are 4 Elements and 12 Facets in the framework:
  • Awareness: Self, Others, Environment
  • Clarity of Direction: Determination, Unifying Purpose, Strategic Intent
  • Leadership Presence: Authenticity, Intentionality, Service
  • Resilient Decision Making: Creative, Robust, Versatile
You do self-assessments and peer-assessments, work as a group and with a buddy to explore and unpack your strengths and identify challenges to work through. You received reports on each facet with personalised activities to flex the element. It has been a fascinating process working with 2 trainers and 9 other leaders, half of us are from education, half are corporate.
My Leadership Presence:
Being true to yourself, your values and ethical code, being in service to others and bringing a focus and bias for achievement to your organisation and others around you.
Parker J. Palmer Quote: “The power for authentic leadership is ...
Reflecting on this element and the 3 facets that underpin it has been relatively easy as it plays to my strengths. For each we have reflected on what is working and what could be developed further.
Authenticity:
WWW?
I have integrity in my values, conviction in my actions. I am ethical, authentic and true to myself.
EBI?
I need a coach –  I have a leadership one but need a business one.
Intentional:
WWW?
I am focused, I am positive, I am appreciative, I am energised.
EBI?
I need a business plan so my approach is more strategic.
Service:
WWW?
I am  committed to the development of people and serving my growing audience.
EBI?
I need a pen portrait for my target audience to be specific to my impact.
As part of the training we have reviewed our values, clarified our goal and articulated a leadership mantra.
Robert K. Greenleaf Quote: “Servant leadership always empathizes ...
My Leadership Context:
I want to identify my strengths working as an individual, independent of a team or institution, working in the system but outside of a school. I want to integrate my strengths in my work and in my passion projects to bring them together into one style of working and being.
When I shared this with my buddy, who is L&D consultant in the US, she reflected back to me:
  • Working autonomously
  • Leveraging my network
  • Creating my own brand and own essence
I love have a listening partner who you talk these things out with.
My Leadership Goal:
This is still emerging and evolving. My initial goal was to go independent, get established, launch the website, explore my options. This is going well, the work is coming in and my network are holding me. I have audacious goals for me and for others for the future. More to follow…
My Leadership Values:
  1. Passion
  2. Purpose
  3. Autonomy

Simon Sinek quote: Great leaders must have two things: a vision of ...

My Leadership Mantra:
I know myself, my values and my purpose. I know how to bring a vision to life, to build momentum, by leveraging my network. I know I am a positive role model in my passionate commitment to strategic action to serve others.  

My Leadership Toolkit:

  1. Read – Simon Sinek, Brene Brown and Lolly Dascal for a non-education perspective.
  2. Journal – write for yourself, or blog for others, but process your thinking.
  3. Network – find your tribe and align yourself with shared vision, values and mission.
  4. Find a critical friend – have someone, or people, who can hold the mirror up to you when you need it.
  5. Be mentored – in a new leadership role, find a mentor to show you how to do the role and to help you find your feet.
  6. Be coached – as you establish in your role, find a coach to help you grow into the role and feel confident, authentic and resilient.
  7. Be sponsored – find someone to look up to, to learn from, who will open doors for you.

Quotes on Authenticity: The Courage To Be Yourself

#DailyWritingChallenge Day 70: Recovery

noun. a return to a normal state of health, mind, or strength.
verb. the action or process of regaining possession or control of something stolen or lost.
‘Normal’:
What does that word even mean anymore? Were our lives ‘normal’ before this? Will they be ‘normal’ again? In diversity language we replace ‘normalising’ with ‘usualising’. What will a usual day look and feel like in our future?
‘Control’:
What have we lost control of? What have we lost? If we switch a deficit mindset to an abundance mindset. What have we gained control of? What have we gained?
recovery 5
Recovery Time:
We went into lockdown on Thursday 19th March. Today it is Friday 19th June. 3 months. 13 weeks. 91 days. 2,184 hours. 131,040 minutes. 7,862,400 seconds. A quarter of our year has been spent in a bizarre way. I have been alive for 495 months, so 3 months for me is not a big chunk of my life. For children it is.
So what is it that we need to recover from?
Emotional fatigue… Stress… Trauma… Grief… Bereavement… Loss… There has been an emotional burden to the last few months as our professional and our personal lives have turned topsy-turvy. We can anticipate, but we do not yet know the extent of the toll the last few months has taken on us all.  We do not know how it will manifest. I am anticipating people feeling anxious, struggling in busy and noisy places, struggling with leave the house, avoiding social interactions, having sensory overload. New things will trigger new reactions. In my weekly peer support circles we start each session with a word to capture how we are feeling. The word ‘Rollercoaster’ has come up a lot. The emotional rollercoaster, the corona-coaster.
recovery 6
Recovery Process:
There has been a lot of talk about the recovery curriculum for schools. Intentional and meaningful activity to help our pupils and our students to process how they are feeling.
We cannot assume everyone has had the same experience or are feeling the same emotions so this work will need to be carefully curated and personalised. But what about the staff? What will the recovery curriculum look like for them? How will we support the mental health and the wellbeing of the adults who will be supporting the mental health and wellbeing of the children? How will we give our leaders the space and the time, to process and to recuperate? What resources do we need in place to enable this to happen over the summer before the new academic year starts?
Quotes about Early recovery (28 quotes)
As an English teacher I love words and in my conversations about recovery with my circles over the last few weeks it has struck me that there has been a pattern of words that keep coming up:
Ready… Realise… Re-balance… Reboot… Re-capture… Receipt… Recognise… 
Re-connect… Recover… Recuperate… Recycle… Re-energise… Reflect… 
Re-frame… Refresh… Regain… Regress… Re-ignite… Rejuvenate… Relationships… 
Relax… Reminder… Repeat… Replace… Replenish… Reproduce… Reset… Resilience… Resist… Resolve… Resonate… Resource… Respite… Rest… Restore… Re-tell… Retrieval… Retrograde…
‘Re’:
A prefix, occurring originally in loanwords from Latin, used with the meaning “again” or “again and again” to indicate repetition, or with the meaning “back” or “backward” to indicate withdrawal or backward motion: regenerate; refurbish; retype; retrace; revert.
I am mentally preparing myself that no sooner have we resurfaced and resumed our ‘normal’ lives that lockdown will be reinstated and our current existence will be repeated and isolation expectations will be reinforced. I think we need to be realistic and recognise that this will return.
Preparation:
So, for me, recovery is about taking stock. Recovery is about reflecting. Recovery is about processing our experiences and emotions. This time we could not plan, we could not prepare. We did not have the coping strategies – we have had to develop them. Next time we will have the tools and the resources in place. We will be be better prepared. We will have made a plan. We will know that we are stronger and more resilient that we thought we were.  We will also know where our resources are.
“We don’t have to do all of it all alone. We were never meant to”.
Brene Brown

One Year On… And Still I Rise…

1st June 2019, I woke up bereft and stared out of the patio doors of my new house to my garden. It was the first day of my imposed gardening leave. I had had 6 working days’ notice to process the news and 1 weekend to pull myself together. I had had to coordinate informing two staff bodies, two students bodies and two parent bodies that I had not only resigned but that I was leaving at May half-term. I wasn’t allowed to elaborate at the time that I had actually resigned on April 1st giving extended notice or that I wanted to work my notice to the end of July. I couldn’t address the confusion that I had just bought a brand new house down the road from our two schools and clarify why I was leaving or why it was so sudden. Everyone knew I had uprooted my life and relocated for the promotion.

I  had spent the first few days of May half-term looking out on a patch of mud. I felt both helpless and hopeless. The garden was bleak, as was my mood. Luckily, I then disappeared to Wales for a few days with my wing women to emotionally and physically escape, to walk and to talk it all out. We plotted and planned what life on the other side might look like for me. We talked about sound tracks and which songs captured 2019 for us as a lot had happened for each of us and it was only May.  The girls suggested Rise Up from Andra Day from her album The Fall for me – the lyrics really resonated with me and it has become a song I go back to. It is a song that lifts me.

And I’ll rise up
I’ll rise like the day
I’ll rise up
I’ll rise unafraid
I’ll rise up

Andra Day

I returned at the end of half-term and the gardeners had been to sort out my patch of earth and transform it into a garden for me. For a week the team had extended my patio, laid my turf, painted my fence and planted some trees for both privacy and shade. My garden looked and felt more peaceful. Planting is a cathartic act, seeds need nurturing, seeds need the right conditions to blossom and bloom, over time.

I went out with my senior teams for my leaving team and I  drank a lot of gin. I was still feeling  numb so I then climbed into my metaphoric cave for a few days to regroup.  I didn’t leave the house as I didn’t want to bump into any of our community and have to explain myself nor dodge awkward questions. I knew my teams were 5 minutes down the road working hard to cover me, juggling their own roles and the additional work that my absence had generated.

For the first time in 18 years I didn’t have a sense of purpose. I didn’t have a reason to get up in the morning. My sense of identity had gone. My daily meaning had gone.  I had not had enough time to process and prepare for this change, I was not ready to lose all of my structures and routines that kept me going. The irony of it being called gardening leave. I felt like I was being punished. I felt like I was being put on the naughty step for daring to say No.

My parents were worried about me so they came to stay for a few days. We went to the garden centre and bought plants, we planted lavenders and verbena. Flashes of purple began to grow against the grey fence, the silver birch and the fresh greens of the lawn and the foliage.  We drank gin, we talked through my options, they offered to lend me some money as all of my savings were invested in the house. A few days later I booked a 2 month trip to South America, via a visit to see my best mate in Vancouver and I went to what felt like the other side of the world in every possible way.

You cannot beat the therapy of being immersed in a different culture. Canada to Peru, through the Amazon jungle, up to the sublime mountain-scape of Macchu Picchu,  through the salt flats of Bolivia to the city-scapes of Chile, via the vineyards of Argentina, across the Iguazu Falls to Brazil to arrive at Table Mountain, majestically framing stunning seascapes. Different landscapes, different languages, different people, different views, different sensory experiences: different perspectives.

I didn’t talk about work for 2 months. I thought about it, I reflected on it and I processed my emotions but I was just Hannah, a teacher from Oxford. I guess everyone in the group was seeking some escapism and was either running to or from something. We talked life, we talked dreams, we drank lots of red wine and we laughed.

The sense of freedom was liberating. I felt lighter and free for the first time in a very long time. I consciously shed some of the weight I had been carrying. I metaphorically threw emotional baggage off of the mountain top. Sub-consciously in lots of the photos I am standing in the power pose, symbolic of the self-empowering process I was going through perhaps.

My adventure in South America ended, my grieving and healing process were well under way. I then went to San Francisco to visit friends and to Seattle to meet my best mate for a few days again before flying home. My 40th year was not going to be marred by how I was treated, I had created positive memories and found many silver linings to focus on.

1st September 2019 and I started a new role as a course leader at a university. Long story short it was not the right role, nor the right context for me. I realised quickly that I had been on the rebound when I had applied and secured it. Much like coming out of a difficult relationship and dating the wrong person, I had rebounded to the wrong thing. However, there were lots of highlights in this role including meeting some lovely new friends, travelling to the Netherlands for work, starting my MA and working with some fantastic trainees and mentors.

Leaving a school context after 18 years needed  a process of calibration, an opportunity to decompress and this new working routine enabled that. For the first time in my adult life I worked 9am-5pm and had a lunch break every day, and I went to the toilet when I needed to pee!  I established new boundaries and did not work in the evenings nor on the weekends. I didn’t know myself, as teaching had crept into what should have been my personal time over the years. I found new space, new time and new energy.

1st June 2020, 12 months on to the day. My website launched as I reach 1 month into working independently, for myself, on my terms. The only person who can compromise my mission, my vision and my values now is me. I am enjoying the independence, the autonomy and the freedom.

I have shared my journey at safe events and in safe spaces over the last 12 months to empower other school leaders. Leaving roles, leaving teams and leaving schools under a cloud means you do not get closure, you are not able to say a proper goodbye. You leave carrying shame, with a heavy heart and a shadow over you. You feel guilty, dirty, chewed up and spat out.

I hope that by sharing my story I can reassure you that it will be okay, you will rise again, like a phoenix. And when you need a reminder listen to the song or read my favourite poem by the writer who inspired me to become an English teacher and inspired me to write.

You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may trod me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I’ll rise.
Still I Rise, Maya Angelou

Maya Angelou quotes: Inspiring words to mark anniversary of her ...

You will recover. You will rise again.

It has been said by friends in the past that my spirit animal should be a phoenix.

In Ancient Greek folklore, a phoenix is a long-lived bird that cyclically regenerates or is otherwise born again. Associated with the sun, a phoenix obtains new life by arising from the ashes of its predecessor.

I definitely feel like I have been reborn. That I have risen up from the ashes.

Be a phoenix. Wake-up, re-invent or fall foul of disruption | IDG ...

This is me rising strong. Stronger than before. If that intimidates you, then let it, that says more about you than it does about me. If you want to complain to my boss, again, then do it – it’s me these days!

I am taking control back for my narrative. It is my story to tell and share, not yours.

We either own our stories or they own us. Only when we have the courage to own our history are we able to write a..."

I choose integrity, ethics and values.

I choose vulnerability and honesty.

I choose courage and speaking my truth.

I choose to rise.

Downloads | Brené Brown

BLM: Anti-racism a whole school approach

The Issue:

  • It is complex.
  • Who owns the voice?

The Conversation:

  • Chiltern using their platform and their network.
  • Modelling how to take responsibility and bring positive change.

The Value:

  • Black lives matter.
  • We need to focus on Black lives mattering.

The Context:

  • We need to be comfortable having uncomfortable conversations.
  • Representation of the collective experience by the individual.

The Curriculum:

  • We are disenfranchising our society by not teaching our full history.
  • CCT: Learn, Reflect and Act.
  • Narratives and Contexts – review the Canon and Dominant Perspectives.
  • Review what is taught, who is taught and how it is taught.
  • Review the library: diversity of texts and representation.

The Actions:

  • Giving voice and being seen.
  • Reviewing labels – what does it mean to be ‘black’?

The Speakers:

 

 

BLM 1

BLM 2

The Language:

  • BAME
  • Cultural capital
  • Social constructs
  • History of identity
  • History of oppression

The Resources:

The Questions:

Uncomfortable questions for difficult conversations  about complex ideas for white leaders:

  • Am I comfortable with the lack of representation in my staff, in my governance?
  • Am I comfortable with white curriculum we teach?
  • Why do we group all black people into one group?
  • Why am I not aware of the black history of the children I teach and the staff I lead?
  • Why have I not talent-spotted and invested in black staff?
  • Why do we redirect all civil rights models to the US?
  • Why do we think that this is a US issue and not a UK issue?
  • Why are we hiding our history?
  • Am I comfortable in oppressing some of my community?

The Reality:

  • It is a white man’s world.
  • Systemic racism.

The Research:

The Challenge:

  • ITE reform
  • Curriculum reform
  • Recruitment reform
  • Leadership reform
  • Governance reform

The Change:

  • Schools
  • Society
  • System wide approach

The Reflection:

  • Are we listening to understand?
  • How do we get kids to see and talk about race and racism?
  • How do we train our teachers to see and talk about race and racism?
  • Who will do this work? How equipped are they?

The Thinking:

  • What does it mean to be an anti-racist?
  • What does an anti-racist curriculum look like?
  • Why do we not see racism through the lens of safeguarding?

The Commitment:

  • Cross-party strategy
  • Cross-system strategy
  • Accountability, Monitoring  and Impact

The Journey:

  • A long term vision that needs to be turned into action.
  • A collective responsibility and a shared approach.

I am a black woman: #IamRemarkable – an anonymous blog

I was meant to add my #IamRemarkable tweet today. Instead I am in a reflective mood. I decided to write down how I feel as a black teacher. I remembered how I felt being at school and why I got into teaching.

Do you know what its like to wake up as a black teacher?

Do you know what its like everyday to wake up to judgement?

Do you know what its like to feel oppressed for years and not get anywhere?

Let me tell you what it’s like being a black teacher.

I wake up everyday and pray for my loved ones. I don’t know when I’ll see them again.

Everyday we live with some form of fear.

Being stopped and harassed is only because I’m black or I have a new car.

I live in a system where everyday we show and tell our kids within the curriculum that being black is nothing. Yet, we come from Kings and Queens before we were enslaved to be shipped to a land that was never our own.

My first racist encounter was at primary school. Too young to understand that being called a monkey was not right, telling people you’re an African was something to be ashamed of. Or how about go back to where you come from?

All of these encounters, yet they are brushed off. White teachers who see just a black face. A black face that doesn’t fit in the privileged Westminster borough.

I was taught from an early age from my parents that Sir Martin Luther King’s dream was for us to unite and live in peace. Sir Malcom X gave us the confidence to say it with chest. Sir Marcus Garvey wanted us to belong in what we call home. Sir Barack Obama told us yes we can.

2020:

32 years of my life and I’m still fighting.

This time I’m fighting as a black teacher to show my worth. Fighting to get what I deserve. Fighting because I’m black and that’s a fact. Fighting because I want to be heard and not just seen.

We were taught to steal, rob and borrow as slaves. Yet all of our lives are filled with sorrow. Why?

We’ve fought for education.

We’ve fought to have the same equal rights as our white peers.

We’ve fought to have peace.

Is that too much to ask for?

What does it mean to be a black teacher?

You will never know. You will never face the amount of racism that one will face.

Having your colour compared to a disability. Having to always work 10 times harder just to have the new person that was here 5 minutes become your line manager.

You can never compare it to any pain. You try to remain numb when you hear Black History Month again because nobody approaches you for your input or ideas.

Or how about being in the staff room and always being asked about Jelloff Rice, Jerk Chicken and what’s the difference between rice n peas? Can you twerk? What’s a weave? Is that your real hair?

All the questions that in your head you want to scream. In your head you know you’re being judged within. She’s the angry black woman.

You can never walk in my shoes.

You can never understand what it’s like to be the black teacher.

You will never know what it’s like to have the doors closed in your face over and over again because of who I am.

A black teacher.

 

#DailyWritingChallenge Day 66: a blog by Liz Cartledge

Somethings in life always give us more clarity, a chance to see things more clearly. Specifically, I am referring to life changing events that we all endure. These can range from small daily disappointments to huge life changing events like bereavement. Sometimes when tragic events happen, they can enable people to re-set their values. I often think it’s such a shame something so tragic has to occur for this to happen, but we’re all human after all and therefore it is completely understandable.

Clarity can also be gained when we take a step back. This can be achieved through a career break either through choice or redundancy I suppose.  Redundancy is a very hard place to be. It can lead to depression, hopelessness and financial difficulties clearly. As a teacher, job security has always been something I feel some take for granted. However, being married to someone who isn’t a teacher, who has been through this when the multi-national company Carillon went into liquidation, job security is not something we take for granted as a family. Carillon ended on 15th January 2018; I remember the day as clear as anything, the day my husband no longer had a job. This was a scary time for us as a family and we came out of it as one of the lucky ones simply because my husband got another job quickly but others didn’t recover from this. Having the experience of seeing someone lose their job as quickly as this stays with you and we never take our job security for granted anymore.

The pandemic has given a lot of people clarity about their values, their ambitions and their goals in life. Only the other day I was talking to my brother-in-law who as a result of the pandemic may face redundancy in the next few weeks / months. It’s a terribly worrying time for many. He was saying, since the pandemic it’s made him revalue what’s important. He is a solicitor, a home owner and is settled in a relationship. He has never taken time out of his career and wants to do this should he be made redundant. I felt very proud of his morale compass when he was explaining this to me over the phone the other day. I wonder how many other people will do this. Obviously, being financially secure plays a huge part in whether this is even possible for many, but if you could, would everyone do this? Would it help give them greater clarity about life? Of course, everyone sees this differently but for me, having a year out on maternity leave in 2019-2020 I feel time away from my busy work-life has given me greater clarity.

Having children does make everyone realign their values I think and for those fortunate enough to become parents, it’s a wonderful thing. All of a sudden you have to think about someone else and for me, that is always a positive. Becoming a mother to twins, I now have two people to think about over my needs which I feel has given me greater clarity about a lot of things. However, my maternity leave has given me greater clarity about the moral purpose of education, being kind and understanding of others. I have to say, I have had so much kindness shown towards me and my girls, I can see how to make this effective as a school leader in all I do. Of course, I have always tried to be an understanding, empathetic person but having my girls has made me believe I can do this with greater strength and impact. I have been blown away by the kindness we have been shown throughout my pregnancy and post-natally. Having been seriously ill after giving birth, we were shown such compassion, at times it was overwhelming. Nobody could do enough for us and that’s just what you need in times of crisis and ill health. All I want now is to give back in the ways I can. Sometimes the journey of education is a very stressful place for parents/ carers. I am thinking about the parents who fight for an Education, Health and Care Plan endlessly for years. Having been a SENCo, parents/ carers have told me how stressful this is and how nervous they get when being in school. I have to say, I can completely understand this and believe it’s our duty to ensure families experience of the education system is a positive one as much as possible.

So, as I return from maternity leave in July, I come back with more clarity.  I want to offer compassion as I return and increased understanding through kind fair leadership. I hope to be even better at my job returning in September and I honestly feel having been through a life changing event as I have becoming a Mum of twins, it’s given me greater clarity how I want to lead in my school now.

People say when dealing with conflict or a stressful situation, ‘count to ten’, simply meaning, consider what you are doing before charging in and acting. I always try to use this mantra when dealing with things at school and I hope after my year away I will have gained even more clarity to be able to do this. Speaking to my Headteacher the other day, he is keen for me to see how school has changed in the last year since I have been away. We are both advocates of a ‘fresh pair of eyes’ when reviewing school systems and he’s asked me to do this when I return in September. I am honoured to do this as we strive to make the school an outstanding place for all.

Of course, you don’t have to have children to have the chance to improve your clarity in your life but it is important that you look for these opportunities in order to give yourself time to think, time to reflect and time to work out what is important to you. If you can’t take a career break or you are fortunate enough not to have endured some of life’s hardest lessons yet, think about the small things that you could just take more time to consider during your busy day. Could you volunteer to help others, would that give you chance to gain more clarity? Or should you just take it a little slower to give you time to think more clearly.

I am sure many people have had many moments recently that have led them to have more clarity about their lives. Let’s look forward to seeing more acts of kindness, thoughtfulness and a more caring approach to all we do because when we do take the time to think and take a moment, it does give us more clarity about a situation helping us to be the best version of ourselves.

#DailyWritingChallenge Day 68: Tolerance

noun. the ability or willingness to tolerate the existence of opinions or behaviour that one dislikes or disagrees with; the capacity to endure continued subjection to something such as a drug or environmental conditions without adverse reaction.

Toleration: allowing, permitting, or acceptance of an action, idea, object, or person which one dislikes or disagrees with.

To tolerate: allow the existence, occurrence, or practice of (something that one dislikes or disagrees with) without interference.

Is it just me, or does the word ‘tolerance’ leave a bad taste in your mouth?

Yes we need to be tolerant human beings, but to tolerate someone or something is to put up with it. Toleration suggests you are forcing yourself to do something you do not want to do. Tolerance suggests that you are doing as you are told, you are complying, not actively engaging.

I find this problematic. I also have issues with tolerance being one of the 5 British Values we teach children in our schools.

Our British Values:

  • Democracy
  • Rule of law
  • Individual liberty
  • Mutual respect
  • Tolerance

According to Ofsted: “mutual respect for and tolerance of those with different faiths and beliefs and for those without faith”.

I agree we need our young people to be respectful and tolerant of the values, ideas and beliefs of others, whilst not imposing our own on others, but is that enough?

We don’t want to be tolerated as a human being.

We want to be accepted. We want to be embraced. We want to be welcomed.

We want to be seen. We want to be heard. We want to be understood.

We want to be respected. We want to be valued. We want to be loved.

“Compassion and tolerance are not a sign of weakness, but a sign of strength”.

Dalai Lama

Our Global Human Values:

As a Headteacher, working with the Values-based Education community we spotlighted and showcased the need for global human values, a universal perspective on humanity. We were compliant and did the bit we needed to do for Ofsted, but our curriculum and our inner curriculum were rich with learning opportunities to explore values.

Humanity needs uniting, not dividing.

Human beings need to be accepted, not tolerated.

Dr Neil Hawkes states often “there is no values hierarchy”. In many ways I agree, however, I think tolerance may be an exception!

“The highest result of education is tolerance”.

Helen Keller

I am not sure this quote is fit for purpose any more… is tolerance the highest virtue of education? Should we not be aiming higher?

Positive Education:

Last year, I attended the annual international Positive Education conference in London. There were a number of speakers and contributors who I had heard of or who I had met before. The speaker who really impact me was Kim Leadbeater, Jo Cox’s sister. Kim is a former FE teacher and now campaigner @JoCoxFoundation where she continues to develop Jo’s legacy.

“Our world is divided… we don’t meet hate with hate…

we meet it with love & compassion”.

Kim Leadbeater

Jo’s vision was for a compassionate society & her mission was to galvanise positive change. Jo’s values were: Inclusivity, Equality and Humanity.

Archbishop Cranmer

If tolerance is being patient, understanding and accepting of anything different, then we to need intentionally practise this.

If tolerance is showing patience towards a practice or opinion you disapprove of, then we need to learn how not to judge others.

If tolerance is the quality of allowing other people to say and do as they like, even if you do not agree or approve of it, then we need exercise our freedom of speech.

If tolerance is the ability to bear something painful or unpleasant, then we need to reflect on our resistance.

If tolerance is our capacity to endure pain or hardship, then we need to appreciate that it is more painful on the receiving end of that relationship.

If tolerance is the act of allowing something to be, then we need to consider the power struggle and privilege involved in this dynamic.

moreincommon - Celebrating the life and legacy of Jo Cox

In her maiden speech she said:

“We have more in common that that which divides us”. 

Jo Cox

Let’s stand united, not divided.

Let’s search for what we have in common, celebrating our shared values, beliefs and experiences.

Let’s remember that being tolerant of intolerance makes us a bystander and complicit, when we need to be upstanders and active in bringing people together, peacefully and compassionately.

Tolerance of intolerance is cowardice. - Ayaan Hirsi Ali | Words ...