Change….an act or process by which something becomes different. Personally and professionally I love change, it keeps me fresh, motivated and constantly evolving as a teacher and leader. It opens my eyes to new experiences, learning and connections with many amazing professionals. Change is positive…but I am not going to lie I find change difficult to handle!
I have been teaching for 15 years now… my first 3 years in a truly fantastic school in Hull, called Malet Lambert. Within this school I learned so much from experienced colleagues, leaders, SLT and more importantly my NQT colleagues that are life long friends. I was lead by a phenomenal Head of Science called Paul Tempest who showed me what a great teacher looked like, but constantly encouraged me to be effective yet efficient as a work life balance is important. I fell in love with this school and the pupils within it. It was home.
Then it all changed, I met my soul mate, my best friend who encouraged the northern lass to move south. I saw an advert in TES for a 2ic in science at The Beacon School and thought- why not? I applied for the position and didn’t get it. However, they liked my style of teaching and offered me a position as a KS3 coordinator. I snapped their hand off- not just to get down south, but yet again I had fallen instantly in love with the school. As I interviewed in November, I reluctantly handed my resignation in at Malet Lambert. I arrived in the beautiful Surrey at Easter (having bagged a whole moth off due to how the Easter terms fell) and started my first day with the news that the school was in special measures. After the initial jaw dropping moment, Ofsted inspection in my first week with a class I had never met, lots of tears questioning my own decision, oh and being made going Head of Science 6 weeks in- I knew this was the place for me. Over the past 11 years, I have worked with some of the most inspirational people at every level- each teaching me to be the best version of me (I know it sounds cheesy- but it’s true). It is because of all these interactions with superb teachers like Kirsty Carlisle, Kayleigh Jackson, Lynzey Crabb, Kat Cole, Lisa Cook, Kerry Hemming-Taylor, Katie Greenwood, Anna Spencer just to name a few I am the teacher I am today. The teacher that doesn’t want to stop learning, the reflective practitioner, the researcher, the risk taker (in the classroom).
I have always made it openly known that I wanted to become a senior leader…but why has it taken me 6 years to finally take the leap? These were some of the things that crossed my mind:
- Will I be able to do this and be a mum? My boy will always come first. I have been told by some leaders in my career that the job must come first and I believed this for a long time- and if so am honest, it did deter me.
- Many people told me that the workload increases massively. I questioned could I actually work any harder? Will o have to give up time with my loved ones? Can I juggle this and do a good job?
- I want to lead here. I always thought that so wanted to lead in my current school- that I had more to give, not considering how this would affect my relationships within the school.
- Am I ready? Do I actually have the skills? Will someone believe in me enough to give me such a responsibility? Am I ready for the buck to stop with me?
- What sort of leader would I be? Will I be able to adapt? Will I have enough ideas? Will I be surrounded by a team that enables me to be the leader I can be?
- Will I be good enough? Will o be good enough for the staff? Will I be good enough for the students? Will I do a good enough job?
These questions really made me think, but more importantly put me off going for jobs. For those of you who have met me I come across quite loud, confident and opinionated (especially if I am in my comfort zone), but for those who really know me have seen the self doubt, the constant questioning and strive to do better, the self doubt. So what changed? What made me apply for a SLT position?
I believe it is really important to be surrounded by honest people, and knowing who you can have an honest and professional conversation with. I had just this. My deputy head was fantastic as she talked, I talked, she listened, I listened and for nearly 2 hours we looked at all of the pros and cons for applying for this particular job, but it was one thing she said to me which was also reiterated by one of my colleagues on my department which was “you can’t not apply only because you are scared”. That was it… I was scared, no petrified! Terrified to leave my school where I have been so comfortable for the last 11 years, the place where the students, parents and staff know me, where my job was easy. It was this- this is what made me question maybe now was the time. Now don’t get me wrong, I love everything about my job, the ability to visit other schools where I have learned so much from so many, teaching my students… but the job at Meridian High School felt different. It felt like an opportunity for me to leap and find my wings on the way down.
When I teach I try to encourage my students to aim high, take risks and be the best they can be, and I believe it was important to take my own advice. I attended three #WomenEd and #Diverseleaders events this academic year and made me build up courage within. Inspiring talks from so many people who had made the leap made me think I can do it. So I did it, I met with the Head who’s vision I bought into instantly, I filled in the application form and attended the interview to which I was successfully appointed. I was elated, yet the bitter sweet pill of having to leave my current “home” brought an underlying current of sadness. The highs and lows of the emotions were unexpected, high of a new venture and low of leaving everything I have ever known whilst living in the south. But one thing is certain, I am becoming more confident and aware of my own skills and talents as both a teacher and leader and it want until I started to realise this that I could stand closer and closer to the ledge before finally taking the leap. I believe this was my 10% braver moment and I have no doubt there will be many more to come.
So advice for anyone thinking am I ready? Talk to someone who will give you honest and transparent dialogue, who will make you question your motives, your skills and give you the tools to realise that yes maybe you can. We all need a champion, and we all need to make that leap.
Mrs S 🔬🧬