Sunday, 25 November 2012

Blowing OFSTED away!

So I started a blog entry on Thursday evening, fresh from the most amazing fortnight of my professional career, possibly. A Carlsberg fortnight if you will. It had started with an SLT observation which had been Outstanding, albeit after some negotiation. There were then several meetings where I felt I made good contributions, including a coaching meeting with someone in my Faculty which both of us felt had been really productive, and had reaffirmed me in the need to connect personally with the people I work with, and help and support them, as well as challenging them. I had two sessions for the Aspiring Senior Leadership programme (which I realise I keep banging on about - sorry!), both of which were filling me with more confidence that I might actually have a contribution to make at that sort of level, and in the last one, I even felt I was developing a bit of my own thinking, having been a bit critical of a session where we learnt all about the primacy of data before being told "It's really about people and doing the best for your students". Why, I wondered, were we kow-towing slavishly to statistics and data which measured us on such narrow criteria if we were supposed to be about the whole child? Why, if academies had been given such freedoms to formulate their own curriculum, were we all trying our best to play "Look at us, we're the best!" using even narrower ranges of measures such as the E-Bacc? Was this really the best we could do for each of the students we teach? I've written about this elsewhere, so I won't labour the point, but you get the idea...

So a bit of observation success, some jolly nice pats on the back, a few green shoots of thinking for myself, all topped off with an HMI visit which stamped the school's reputation as Outstanding, World Class, and "blowing the lid off outstanding" indeed: Apparently this was a comment made about my own lesson. Well, I was quite chuffed. Blog, here I come, ready to show the world I know some serious stuff. The Internet would have to sit up and listen now. Might even get past the 200 followers mark on Twitter. Then everyone would know who was the king of this damn castle! Hell yeah....

Fortunately for me, the week had also pretty much exhausted me, and I feel asleep before being able to hit the PUBLISH button (except with my slumping forehead, which wasn't accurate enough to hit the screen in just the right place).

Thankfully.

None of the self-congratulatory crap of the original post has since survived, as you can possibly tell (except in an ironic, disdainful, faux can't-believe-I-was-nearly-that-shallow kind of a way). By the time I reviewed it, most of the puffed up self-confidence had gone. Having read some brilliant blogs over the weekend, and some thoroughly humbling ones (my thanks to @Headguruteacher, @kevbartle and @Gwenelope for their contributions, whether they realise it or not), I came back to the realisation, which I've known all along, that chasing plaudits leads to an ego boost, and ego boosts are exactly what divert perfectly well-intentioned people from doing what they know to be right, by their students and their staff. Some may call it pragmatism in an imperfect world, but you have to ask yourself whether, by playing along with the rules of the imperfect world, you aren't condoning it, and won't eventually arrive at a rather unquestioning acceptance of it. In the name of pragmatism. Realpolitik, and all that.

So while my mind is feeling refreshed, and my ego is on a lull, I got on, and planned some more excellent lessons which will push my students harder than they've been pushed before, which will win no popularity contests, but which will get them to be able to think for themselves, hopefully with the same level of integrity I'm aspiring towards. That's my job. Every day. Even when HMI have gone.

Fortunately for me, the pace of a teacher's life and the sieve-like nature of my memory will combine hopefully to ensure I've forgotten all about last week by the time I hit the starter thunk in tomorrow's Year 10 lesson! Nothing like students to keep you grounded and focused on the main thing...