Chase yersel….

I posted back in May about an in service I was asked to speak at on leadership. (leadership in the time of cholera) It was perhaps a bit of an alternative context for me but I was pleased with how it had gone. I really had not given it another thought to be honest when a friend had told me that she had been speaking to someone who was there.
They wanted to know if I really had done the things I had said.
Teach weans?
No, that was not me at all.
Looked after staff?
No, definitely not.
Said no to senior management when I believed I was right about curriculum pathways?
No. Didn’t do that either.
Chase yersel.
I’m not serious about many things, ( daughter, shoes and piano playing aside) but my work is one of them.
Clearly a new context is something that frightens others. Gies a break. Good teaching and learning has always been the same no matter how you dress it up. No matter what label you put on it.
I’ve always believed in giving everything I can to what I do and I make no apologies for that. ( Although I have been told sometime I need saved from myself!- sleep?… Aye, that’s over rated too) but honestly, do I look like some chanty wrastler making it up? You couldn’t make it up. Similarly you couldn’t get that quality of teachers to work with very often.
As a wise woman once said to me: learn your craft,take your time and be gentle with the people and children you are privileged to be with.


New term…….new shoes….

When I started this blog, it was as a professional challenge to myself with the three themes of shoes,my daughter and my teaching.
How far I have come in those years still astounds me. So I think it is a good chance to take stock and start again as there will be much more methodology going on and it will be good to get back to looking at that.
My love affair with shoes continues. Few new pairs over the summer…..I’m aware my parents might see this, so I am not saying how many pairs. My boss might also think my wages need looked at if that is what I am spending them on.
However, something that has not changed is my pride and joy my little lady.
Hard to believe she is going into primary 5. I genuinely have no idea where the time has gone. I had another summer of falling in love with her all over again. I know every parent is biased,but she quite simply lights up my life and I find myself making most of my education decisions based on whether it would it benefit her. Her sense of humour is as dry as mine and we have laughed to the point of tena ladies this summer. From travelling in Spain to visits to friends, walks on the beach, getting soaked in the rain to entertaining the ladies of the family at a party.
She is at the stage where she has activities and clubs on and has quite the social life. Part of me is still struggling with how independent she is untill I’m gently reminded that the Apple does not fall far from the tree.
So new session, points cleared to start again.
Even after all this time, I’m still excited for the new term.

Yer results are in……

During the last academic session I had a class of primary teachers that I was preparing for Higher Spanish. I decided to do this for 2 reasons.
1. Purely selfish to make sure I could still do it.
2. Professional development for teachers.
We’ve all been there… go to training or someone comes to look at your work and you are thinking aye, very good. When did you last bother your derrière in class? Credibility??
It was a learning curve to say the least. Twilight once a week. Teachers are knackered and I was coming in after a whole day to….yet it was an absolute joy.
I had to teach in a completely different way, some of it was challenging and some of it was quite refreshing.I don’t mind admitting that I was absolutely petrified about the results. It never leaves you.
I was reflecting on it as I plan for this session and comparing my work plan to when I was in school with seniors was quite stark. Where I had the luxury of spending time on perhaps wider linguistic experiences and more fluid language I soon found out I had to be really selective and focus on the skills of language learning. I spent much more time on working with how to manipulate language and the promotion of skills. I still managed to sneak in some of my usual activities with music and translation but I still felt pushed. Granted they were incredibly motivated and I didn’t have to remind them that they needed to learn the grammar rules but it was a lot to go from zero to hero in about 6 months. They were all at totally different levels so differentiation was a hoot and a half.
When the HT of the school sent me a message saying “can you talk?” I don’t mind admitting my stomach was in my derrière.
Job done. Results were outstanding.
It was an absolute blast.

Where is the love?

I attended an in service a few years ago and it was singlehandedly the best reflective morning I had ever had. At the core of what he presenter was saying was if you have forgotten why you are in the teaching profession go back to where you found the love in it.
I have taken a break over the summer to reassess where I am in my education journey and to make a decision about where I am going.
I went back to the people who had created that love of education for me,spent a lot of time talking and listening and soaking up their enthusiasm,commitment and love for education.
First there was G. He was my line manager when I first arrived in Glasgow and we’ve had a great relationship both as colleagues and friends since then. We are both at totally different ends of the scale when it comes to our approaches but complimented each other very well when we worked together. His organisation had me shamefaced what with my more hands off attitude to paperwork. However, his guidance in forming pupil relationships and the advice in how to work with other colleagues was second to none. I’ll never forget the time I was really struggling to get something positive in a report card about a particular student who was very challenging and it still makes me laugh to this day. I was reminded that parents still want to have something positive to read even if they know just how much of a loveable torag their child is. Saying they have nice teeth won’t cut it. We had the chance to reminisce and crease ourselves with laughter about escapades, nights out, friendship and how my job is still to make the tea after 17 years. Somethings don’t change.
Then there was JGJ. I’ve written about him before – my soul mate from teacher training college. It was time for one of our quarterly catch ups and we spent a lot of time saying ” maybe it’s just me…..but…..” We talked about how work life balance is so important to us what with having wee people and how the expectations upon us can be hard to reconcile. His wife is now in a promoted post and we talked about working smart so that time at home was with the wee people, as they needed us more. Can you be a parent,promoted and have it all? It’s bloody hard. There may have been an afternoon apéro and sunshine involved and it was indeed another way of getting back to where the love was.
Getting back to the love was always going to involve the ladies with whom I was blessed to make magic with in my department when I was PT. 3 of us met….both of them now promoted and I couldn’t help but be filled with pride as these two wonderful mums sat there proving to everyone that you can indeed have it all. It’s bloody hard work but possible. We watched our wee ladies scoot about enjoying the freedom and we laughed, talked about the challenges we had and how we got over things like difficult staff, lack of sleep, deadlines and my ridiculous flouting of the rules. At the core of everything was the difference we had made to children. We all had particular children that we remembered for one reason or another and the anima we shared as talked about them was really quite something. Professionally, I was never more satisfied than when I was working with these ladies… was probably when I was physically at my worst and yet with the energy from a good team you can pretty much do anything. As a leader you are indeed only as good as your rock stars you are surrounded with. I had a supergroup.
However,if I strip it back to where the love is and what helped to make my decision to stay in teacher education rather than back to class full-time was a certain little lady who is now a most valued colleague. I had the joy of teaching this lady for 4 years and it was her class that cemented for me my love of being in education.i have watched her grow, travel and develop into the PT she is now. To see her be a role model for the next generation of children is nothing short of fairytale ending for me.
Starting the new session with renewed energy, ideas and a chance to work in the world of education is an enormous privilege

Tall Tree Town & George the Magic Maker…

Recently I had the chance to go to one of our local parks to look at development in the gardens. I was asked by my pal H with whom I used to work with. He has an infectious enthusiasm and knack for getting people round a table to collaborate. We were taken on a wander through Pollok park to Tall Tree Town. This was the genius creation of one of the gardeners. It was a tiny wee village of fairy houses and magic. H was so taken with this he wants to get more exposure for to and look at how more people could enjoy this from all over the city.
As a mum, I just marvelled at the prospect of getting on my fairy wings and taking the wee lady to find magical things.
Each fairy house had a backdrop to a fairytale or a nursery rhyme and immediately all the educational lights started to go on for me. As George took us round the houses we spoke of how he loved to hear “weans tell you what they can see or why they think something is like that”
A natural-born story-teller with his teddy boy hair cut and wellies, I couldn’t help but be quite taken with him. I asked him if he had kids or grandkids and he said no,but he had brought up his sisters and there were lots of stories.
Having been surrounded by books and stories as a child, I have developed a love of reading. The wee lady is the same.
We wandered round the fairy houses then we met the dragon -all hand carved from wood and covered in sparkles. The labour of love that has gone into this coupled with the imagination from George was quite simply stunning.
The assembled group met back for tea and then we started to create some of our own magic.
I talked about potential from a literacy point of view both in English and in different languages, John Muir award and contributions to Eco awareness in the local community. I was struck when George said to me. ” I couldn’t have told you that hen,I am just a gardener and you in education know much more”
How wrong he was.
All I did was change he language and look at how it could address some different areas in education -which was right at the heart of what he was doing.
Just a gardener? I think not.
H had us all galvanised and within a few days I was invited back with the wee lady and there were some TV cameras.
This resulted in quite simply the most magical wee clip with George taking the wee people round, him telling stories and the wee people asking questions ” are blacksmiths bad guys?” ” where is the back door?”
George told them about the Tall Tree and the history of it in Native American Tribes, he told them about flowers growing, where to look for horse shoes and to keep their eyes peeled for fairies. In the clip he made me laugh when he said that he wanted wee people to know that gardening wasn’t just about gardening…….
I have to say, we need more people like George. Magic makers. Story tellers.
And people like H. Who bring it all together.
If you get a chance, Tall Tree Town in Pollok Park…..a joy.

Sans Pom poms

I was recently at the Scottish Eduction Awards as a guest and it was indeed a lovely day with lots of happy memories of being there before. I had the chance to catch up with lots of friends from near and far, and one of them pipes up” Och it’s yersel – wee day out? Do you just go to awards ceremonies?”
Yep. Opening of a packet of crisps and I’ll be there.
Was tempted to tell her I’d been dealing with emails since 6am and was going straight back to do staff training. Then when the wee lady was in bed I would do a few hours again.
Because that’s just how it gets done.
My family have always celebrated the wee things. From the gallery of paintings in the kitchen we would bring home from nursery, to Christmas tree decorations, to the wee joys of school. Dad sat through dancing displays when I am sure he would have rather poked his eyes out with a fork. Mum would listen to constant music rehearsals and was always delighted. ( demented more likely)
The wee things being celebrated and acknowledged are HUGE.
This time of year it is the school shows, the award ceremonies and all the wee things that are so very important to the wee people.
So I have been to various shows and ceremonies as I have been asked to. Getting home late is the norm for a few weeks. It is important because it is my way of showing that I value all the work that my friends do. And all the work the wee people do.
I have laughed, cried and been genuinely blown away by the dedication of the amazing teachers I have the privilege of working with every day.
To support people is the least I can do when they are as amazing to me. I may not have the Pom poms but giving time is still the best form of cheerleading as far as I am concerned.

When you say nothing at all….

It’s a great quote really. Learning when to say nothing when actually you want to scream. Or say I told you so. Or ask someone if they have finished. Or a favourite retort-do you feel better now you have said that?
Learning to park it and come back when you have calmed down has been a life saver for me recently.
I have been rendered speechless twice in the past 7 days. One was a situation of “did you actually just do that to me again?” And the other was when I was so horrifically ungracious at accepting a gift. Totally ambushed and I was mortified, bowled over and grateful for the unexpected love.
To that room of 40 people, you managed it -you shut me up. And it made up for the first time in the week I was rendered speechless.