Staffrm Transfer 11 – Hard Work, Emerging from the Chrysalis, Wellbeing, Another End of Term, What Would You Do?

Hard work


Lena Carter · 9 months ago

Last weekend I had a fantastic opportunity and I came away from it feeling validated and empowered. I wrote a #digimeet‍ blog about it here:

The last five days have been, by contrast,  the sort that can take the wind out out of your sails. I just went to list the various issues that have arisen….but then I deleted the list because I realised that they are nothing more than the bread and butter of being a senior leader in a rural comprehensive.

I am feeling completed shattered tonight and once again I have lost my voice.

I am also feeling cross with myself because I upset someone at work due to a misunderstanding. Of course I apologised but it is not a good place to be in. I have had a little cry about that.

At my innermost core, though, I’m ok. There have been high points amongst the challenges and I know that I have got through much worse before.

An amazing group of pupils made the tower in my headline picture in one of my classes this week and the image reminds me of why I do what I do: to get people working together to learn, find solutions and  aim for the stars.

This weekend I will regroup, lick my wounds and prepare myself to start again next week.

Emerging from the chrysalis.


Lena Carter · 9 months ago

After some hard weeks, Easter is in sight.

Today I was hugely re-junivated when I bumped into some of the people who inspire me the most in my authority. We didn’t have much time together but the glimpse was enough.

Tonight I have written these words to the staff at school:

I don’t know about you but I am tired. It feels as if it has been a struggle to get through the recent weeks with winter bugs threatening (and sometimes winning) and huge amounts to do. As a staff, we have faced a number of challenges (both professional and personal) and we need to take care of ourselves and of one another.

We have perhaps the most important job there is; parents entrust us with their children and we help them learn and develop into young adults who make the most of life and make sensible choices. It is both a huge privilege and a huge pressure to do our job and we can’t do it to the best of our ability if we are unwell, either physically or mentally.

Taking care is very important.

There are just two weeks left to go until the holiday, lighter mornings and evenings, fresh growth appearing.

I know that I am ready for the holiday but I also know that I need to think ahead so that when it comes, I am not so exhausted that I don’t enjoy it. I owe that to my family. Over the next two weeks, I am going to try and get myself ready for the holidays. I am going to make an extra effort to rest, breathe, relax, notice, have fun and cut corners. This fortnight will not be about driving myself into the ground and committing my last few drops of energy to work before collapsing in a heap next Friday week.

Why don’t you join me?

In addition, I thought it might be fun to share some book recommendations ahead of the holidays so that staff who like to read might get their holiday reading sorted in good time?

Mine is ‘The Goldfinch’ by Donna Tartt.

From Goodreads:

The Goldfinch combines vivid characters, mesmerizing language, and suspense, while plumbing with a philosopher’s calm the deepest mysteries of love, identity, and art. It is an old-fashioned story of loss and obsession, survival and self-invention, and the ruthless machinations of fate.

I have not quite finished it but am rationing myself as I have found it utterly captivating.

If you have a recommendation, please email me and I will include it in next week’s bulletin.

Continuing with the wellbeing crusade…


Lena Carter · 9 months ago

It is interesting that some staff in my school did not appreciate my call to wellbeing strategies last week.

So my Friday thoughts to them tomorrow are short and sweet:

Some of you got in touch after last week’s Friday Thoughts saying that my suggestion of slowing down in a week where folio and coursework uplifts are due was poorly timed.

I appreciated hearing those thoughts and it made me reflect. However, I hold to what I said and I would suggest that it is precisely in our busiest weeks that we need to take most care of ourselves.

Let’s be honest, as teachers we are always busy. There is always more we could do. There will always be external pressure on us. But we have to learn to manage workload and look after ourselves – and each other – if we are to survive.

I found a good website that offers some useful thinking on this and you can find it here, if you are interested:…

“A man who works regularly in a systematic fashion never feels overworked or tired. He knows his limits and is able to do in fair time, all that he undertakes. It is not hard work that kills a man, but irregularity or lack of system kills.”

Mahatma Gandhi. CWMG Volume 91 page 135.

Another end of term.


Lena Carter · 8 months ago

I was going to start this post by saying that I am at the end of probably the most challenging term of my career. That I am exhausted, that I feel almost overwhelmed by the dramas and demands of my job.

But the joy of blogging is that evidence shows that I have been here before. I have felt that sense of being beyond tired, over-challenged, over-stretched…… And the reality is that I have survived before and I will survive again.

I don’t think there is anything wrong with being tired after working hard; it is a bit like the tiredness you feel at the end of a long walk or run. The ache in your legs shows that you have put effort in and need a rest before the next exertion.

We are in a difficult place in schools just now. But has it ever been different? I don’t think so.

The reality is that there are always challenges but there are also always positives, however small. It is hard if the things that we judge to be positives are not viewed as such by others who are looking for hard evidence and hard data. It is hard when we are surrounded by those who want to weigh the pig instead of looking at it to see if it is thriving. And it is hard when others take more perverse pleasure in being critical and apportioning blame than in celebrating small successes and seeing a glass half full.

Small things to celebrate include:

*The hello in the corridor from the pupil who never says hello.

*The pupil who is there every day for a week after not having been.

*The class which produces the most sublime anti-bullying drama after a short year of studying the subject.

(Now don’t get me wrong. My learnt (not natural) tendency is to ALWAYS see the negative first….. But I know now to fight against that because it is not a helpful way of being and if I can’t look for solutions to problems, I am part of the problem.)

Life is amazing and it is awful. It is sunshine and rain. Every life has its ups and downs. As teachers in a school community, we will be touched by the ups and downs of the lives of every member of that community: the pupils, staff members and their family members beyond. In a large school that can equate to thousands of lives.

Being a teacher will never be without challenge and drama. We have chosen a vocation that makes us engage with lives in all their wonderful and terrible reality. But we have also chosen a vocation that allows us the privilege of helping children to navigate the opportunities and challenges of life.

Personally, I wouldn’t want it any other way.

What would you do?


Lena Carter · 8 months ago

We have had friends visiting this week.

Old friends. The type you don’t see for a long time but then feel as if you have never been apart.

Like an old pair of shoes that still fit perfectly even though you haven’t worn them for a while.

We walked, talked, ate, played games.

On one walk we played a game that involved answering the question “what would you do if you didn’t have to work? If money was not an issue?”

It is a good game and it is an important question to consider if, like me, you are wondering a bit about where your life is going.

So, my answer?

I would do something where I know I am making a difference to the wellbeing of children and young people.

I would re-train as a dramatherapist and spend some of my time working therapeutically with children.

I would run a youth theatre and teach drama.

And I would write and talk about these things.

And maybe set up and run my own school where these things were at the core.

What would you do?


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