I have been meaning to write this post for a while, but it seems, for the last couple of weeks, there has always been Something Else To Do. I have a feeling that Something Else To Do is going to be a very familiar feeling in the year ahead, as I have accepted the next big challenge. I am about to join the SLT of my school as Acting Deputy Headteacher.
In a time where many teachers are leaving the profession because of the strains put on us, the unfair demands on children and the ever increasing workload, part of me feels that I am crazy to be taking it on. But the problem is that, for some time, I have been wanting More. For a while, I wasn’t entirely sure what More was, but I knew I wanted it. I love teaching: I’ve been doing it for 16 years now, and while no two days are ever the same, I need new challenges. I became SENCo and completed the NASENCo award. Then I became Assessment Leader, with all the challenges that came with that role. Those challenges continue, and I have loved getting my teeth into them, but still that concept of More kept niggling away at me.
A couple of years ago, I enquired about the possibility of undertaking my NPQSL, and whether it would be worthwhile. At that point, I wasn’t entirely sure whether Deputy Headship was the route I wanted to go down, but it would give me More: new challenges and stretching my brain in a different way. I was told it wasn’t necessary, that if I decided to apply for Deputy Headships, my application would speak for itself. I had a new baby (my second), and so took the advice to just carry on as I was. Last year, I had the opportunity to speak at Pedagoo London about my experiences as an Assessment Leader, and, whilst it terrified me, I vowed at that time to do more to take myself out of my comfort zone.
As the last school year came to an end, More reared its head again and I asked once more about the NPQSL. This time, I was given the go ahead, and so I enrolled. I’ve loved it – I’ve learned a huge amount: my competencies aren’t all up to top standard yet, but I’m well on the way. I’ve enjoyed the additional reading and taking my findings back into school. Yes, as I promised myself, it took me out of my comfort zone initially, but most importantly, I worked out what More actually was.
More meant responsibility, involvement , knowledge and understanding. More meant learning how others work and finding ways to support them. More meant having the chance to make an already great school even better by researching, reading and acting upon what I found. More meant joining an SLT as a Deputy Head.
Maybe, in time, I may find I have more More than I bargained for. I don’t know. I’m pretty sure I’ll cope – I know that, even though I’m organised, I will have to be more so. I will perhaps have to learn the magic word “No” – something I’ve not been great at saying until recently. I might even find that Deputy Headship isn’t for me (although I think it is!). I have the support of a great SLT who I know well, and colleagues whom I have worked with for many years and consider great friends. Of course, that could be my downfall – I started in the school all those years ago as an NQT and have grown and honed my craft there. To me, I’m Mrs E, the soon-to-be Deputy Head, but for many there, there is still a hint of Miss E, the 21 year old who got caught standing on a table putting up a display when potential candidates were being shown around. Or Miss E, the NQT who got mistaken for a Y6 child in assembly and told to sit down. Or Miss E, the founder of the End of Year BBQ who… well, the least said about the beginnings of that tradition online, the better!
For me, taking the next step is the right thing to do. If all the great teachers leave the classroom, then what hope do the children have? And what hope do the teachers left behind have of surviving? Schools need great teachers and great leaders: people who will stand up for the needs of the children and for the needs of the teachers. I’m not proclaiming for a moment that I am A Great Leader, but I know that I am going to do everything in my power to be the best leader I can.
The next big challenge is one that I cannot wait to get started with. Wish me luck… I may well need it!