Wednesday, 24 February 2016

Where Hope Grows (About Me)

After reading an excellent and uplifting blog post by @BridgemaryTL it occurred to me that not all hopeful and optimistic people are walking in pastures green; on the contrary, many are traversing what the Psalmist might have termed 'the valley of the shadow of death'. Maybe I'm being melodramatic, but it does seem, to put it crudely, and in the words of Dwight from the US Office, that 'Hope grows... in a dump!'

The insecurity inside of me, usually well-tamed by my confidence, sometimes suggests that my optimistic slant on education has many detractors. Self-doubt rears its head and trips my self-assurance, telling me, amongst other things, that passing readers of my blog will automatically think the grass is greener on my side, writing off my ideas as the idealism of the privileged.

Well they're not and @BridgemaryTL has inspired me to finally write my 'about me' spiel to debunk the theories my imaginary foes might have about me only being so optimistic because I've got a cushy job. I'll attempt to be brief and I hope it won't come off as whingey or boastful.

I am a husband and a father of three girls aged 5 and under (I make it a point to be home for bath time and bed time most nights). I hold a practical leadership position at my church (Sunday and some midweek commitments). I am an assistant head with a responsibility for maths and UKS2 (a team of 4 other teachers). I teach a 70% timetable in year 6 focusing on maths and English (with all the planning, preparation, marking, assessment and analysis that goes with it, not to mention SATs). Prior to starting this job (last September, my first leadership role) the school was inspected and rated 'Inadequate' (and the report was kind!) - I took the job knowing this. As a consequence, the behaviour of the children who have spent the longest in the school is challenging and their learning behaviours are improving but not yet consistent. Across the school, percentages of children at ARE are very low, although progress is rapid. There are still many areas of weakness in the school despite rapid improvement and my responsibilities include observing lessons and coaching the members of my team, as well as leading their PPMs, in-phase moderation and the like. I commute in and out of the centre of one of the UK's top 10 biggest cities at the beginning and end of each day.

I've tried to be matter of fact about my roles but if it is not clear, I have a jam-packed schedule and I work in a challenging setting. My optimism and positivity abound despite the every-day pressures of my job and my home life. Perhaps my optimism is what led my to my current school. Perhaps my increased positivity is as a result of working on such a challenging environment. Whatever the case, even when times get tough (and they do), it is possible to be optimistic and positive about teaching.


  1. I must admit, I am a little... I don't know... surprised, maybe, by how you stay so postive? Today is probably not the best day for me to comment - my 1yo daughter has had a severe case of chicken pox and has been so, so poorly. I've been out of school, let everyone down, seen the resentment (not unjust!) in my colleague's eyes, known I don't have time to fully prepare Year 11 for their mocks and I have let them down too. And on top of it all I have tried to get into school on 2 hours sleep every night for the last week and I have missed my poorly baby so much. I am stretched to breaking point. I know there is so much to be grateful for... but today my mind cannot stay focused on the good things

    But on the other hand, if you can find this optimism and stay focused on the positive in what is, no doubt, an extrememly challenging profession, however 'cushy' jobs might seem to outsiders, then I say all credit to you. That's a great example to show to the children too.

    Ask me again in a few weeks and maybe I can get back on board with you!

  2. That sounds awful. It's nigh impossible to stay positive on that little sleep at the best of times. It's very different for working parents without one parent at home. Mr Teacher gets a full nights sleep and has a full time nanny, cook, cleaner and financial manager. And he has his down days too. Hope your baby is better soon xx

  3. Thank you so much for replying. I am feeling a little better today - though coming down with a terrible cold. I am very lucky that my husband is a teacher too and we do share the household stuff like cleaning and cooking. She is much much better today, thank you. Back to climbing all available surfaces like some kind of mountain goat 😂 I really appreciate your reply. xx

    1. Glad you are both feeling better. Not long till Easter! ;)