Lena Carter · 8 months ago
This week a tweet asked me to consider what I am feeling positive and/or optimistic about in relation to education.
1. Online connections. Through Twitter, Womened, Staffrm, HealthyTeacherToolkit and Teacher5aday in particular.
2. The capacity of those in schools to solve problems and support one another.
3. Children who are endlessly inspiring.
4. History and all that it can teach us.
5. Four more days of the holidays.
Lena Carter · 8 months ago
So, a jigsaw update.
Back in February, I wrote about my extreme jigsaw activity and the fact that I viewed doing a 1000 piece Star Wars jigsaw as good preparation for embarking on writing a school timetable.
I think that the learning I gained by doing the jigsaw has indeed helped me with the Herculean task of timetabling thus far.
1. My brain is finding it hard to switch off from trying to find timetable solutions, as it did when doing the jigsaw.
2. I have not exactly needed specialist clothing but I have needed to put my glasses on (usually kept for driving out of vanity) as hunched over the computer and squinting is not a good look.
3. A night’s sleep and fresh eyes really do help make what was impossible become possible.
4. My tendency to catastrophize has been exacerbated. I have been heard to utter “that’s IT! It can’t be done!” several times a day.
5. Time and patience are indeed very important.
6. And asking for…. and accepting.. help are crucial.
Thank heavens for a man called Alasdair who gave up a day of his holiday to teach me and for a man called Steve. I am married to the latter and I had forgotten that he was once a demon timetabler.
I have a long way to go. But I have started and I have learnt a lot. 6 weeks ago I was insanely jealous of people who talked about COS, SETTS, schematics, triples and pairs and knew what they were.
I have joined their ranks.
That we will have a working timetable on May 30th when we need it is still no certainty.
But if we don’t, it won’t be for lack of trying.
Happy 2nd birthday #WomenEd
Lena Carter · 8 months ago
So, the wonderful Hannah Wilson set me homework
Q1. HOW HAS YOUR ROLE AS AN ASPIRING OR EXISTING LEADER BEEN CLARIFIED?
Connections made through #womened and other platforms have helped me to stay true to my vision of authentic and passionate leadership and helped me explore and be challenged in my thinking. In a small rural community it can be difficult to find kindred spirits but the #womened tribe is full of them!
Q2. HOW HAS COMMUNICATING YOUR LEADERSHIP EXPERIENCE AND AMBITIONS DEVELOPED YOU?
I sometimes struggle to articulate my vision face to face and in my workplace. Communicating online and via blogging has allowed me to communicate and rehearse what I want to say in a safe and nurturing space before going into a possibly more challenging arena.
Q3. HOW HAVE YOU CONNECTED WITH #WOMENED?
My #WomenEd connections to date have been virtual: digimeets, Twitter conversations, Yammer connections and coaching. I was lucky to meet some of those I have met virtually at Northern Rocks last year but it was a long trek. That is why we are bringing the face to face connection opportunities to Scotland!
Q4. HOW HAVE YOU COLLABORATED WITH THE CONNECTIONS YOU HAVE MADE WITH #WOMENED?
I suppose that the main piece of collaborative work to date has been the work I have done through being coached by @malcpd. It has been a privilege to work with her towards outcomes that will benefit my school through my leadership.
And now, of course, I am collaborating to develop the Scottish network!
Q5. HOW HAS YOUR CONFIDENCE BEEN BOOSTED?
I am the opposite of Hannah and always lack confidence. #10%braver has helped me hugely with my chimps and my critics and the positivity that been expressed about my blogs has been a real source of support at times of doubt.
Q6. HOW HAS THE COMMUNITY INSPIRED, EMPOWERED AND NURTURED YOU?
Something inspires me every single day. I feel completely and utterly blessed and privileged to get all this support.
Q7. HOW HAVE YOU BEEN CHALLENGED?
I have been inspired and encouraged by my #womened tribe to aim high, follow my dreams and be authentic…..but sometimes those around me aren’t as enthusiastic about me.
In my youthful London days I might have moved on, found another setting or simply sought out a different group from those around me to connect with.
Now, with family commitments and a sense that this smaller pond is home, I need a different approach.
Q8. HOW HAVE YOU CHANGED PERSONALLY AND/ OR PROFESSIONALLY?
I have become more patient and reflective but retained my passion for making a difference and being the best version of myself.
I have also had the confidence to be me and not hide behind the me I think I “should” be. There is still a way to go but I’m hugely grateful to #womened and all my other online connections for helping me start the journey.
Thanks so much to Hannah for the inspiration. You are a true legend.
Lena Carter · 8 months ago
As you know, I teach Drama.
As you know, I like to talk.
As you may know last term I worked on project about bullying with my S2 classes. It was wordy- lots of talk, dialogues and a chat-show finale. And it was hard work: challenging, emotional and at times upsetting.
And so this term I have reverted to the polar opposite. I have dug out my 1994 “Theatre of Silence” unit.
In it, we talk about non-verbal communication and the 93% emotional intelligence statistic and we look at Mr Bean’s “Sandwich”, Laurel and Hardy’s “Sugar Daddies” and slapstick/ silent movies and Samuel Beckett’s “We Three”.
But this week I took a risk. I did a bit of 10%braver.
When each class came in, I greeted them without words.
I registered with gestures and mimed the instructions to the warm up and other tasks.
They continued to speak and that was fine.
We did a warm up. We then watched Mr Bean and I communicated that I wanted them to work in pairs and devise a short comic piece involving 2 characters on a park bench.
They had 10 minutes to practice and then performed them and got feedback from me.
Here is what I noticed:
I slowed down. I noticed them, looked and listened with intent.
I saw a beautiful smile, a worried look. I made eye contact.
They slowed down.
They talked but the atmosphere was much calmer than usual. They listened to and watched me more but they also listened to each other more.
They worked really hard to understand me.
Several took on the role of interpreter and said what they thought I meant until I confirmed they had got it.
Their performances were funny, sophisticated and demonstrated learning.
5 minutes before the end I began to speak, summarising what had happened.
I have set them homework: to try taking half an hour over the weekend where they communicate without talking.
There is much to be said for not saying. In terms of behaviour management, I was forced to remember the power of silence and the need to use more than words.
I could never have done this a year ago when I walked back into school after secondment and had to build trust and relationships. We have come on a long journey, the pupils and I. And we have such exciting times ahead.
The way not the what.
Lena Carter · 7 months ago
I am sitting in my garden in the sun. I am feeling a sense of nervous excitement because the week ahead holds a lot in store.
On Monday I will present next year’s school timetable to staff. In Scotland the exam season is upon us already and the new year begins at the very end of May.
I am far from finished with the timetabling but I want to get the basic structure to staff now, so that they can maximise the time freed up by the exams over the coming weeks and start planning for new classes.
I am new to timetabling but as the daughter and wife of former timetablers, I know that my pride in what I have created will be short-lived and that once staff see it, I will be inundated with complaints.
All the more so if it turns out that what I have created does not actually work….
On Friday I will be presenting to a secondary head teacher’s group on how our school has responded to the deaths of three young people in our school community in the last year.
Nothing I say will be particularly new or innovative…but it will be an authentic reflection on how to help staff and pupils when the worst happens….three times.
And next Saturday I will be co-facilitating a #womenedScotland networking event in Glasgow.
Challenges. Exciting ones and ones that I know are within my capabilities. But keeping calm and retaining a sense of confidence in myself over the next week will be the biggest challenge.
This week I did a farewell assembly for my fourth years and we said goodbye to seven pupils who are not returning next year. I felt proud, emotional and like a mother duck watching her ducklings paddle away to the stream that flows out of the pond.
My parting advice? That life is amazing and challenging. That we need to make the most of the ups and be resilient when there are inevitable downs. That you need to be your own best friend because you are the only one who is guaranteed to be with you until the end. And that, to quote Bananarama, Fun Boy Three and a lot of mindfulness gurus, “it ain’t what you do, it’s the way that you do it.”
I will heed my advice this week. My way will be focused, calm and modestly confident. The way not the what is the key.