Every August I make New Year’s resolutions for school. Occasionally, by week four, I realize these were entirely misguided. The ones which don’t seem to work are usually the ones which go against what is naturally right for me. I’ve mentioned that last year’s resolution, which was essentially to be more stern, didn’t work so well. I’m a smiley person. I have to have a bit of a joke with students, or they can tell I’m just pretending. Undeterred, I continue to make resolutions.
1. Happy teachers
I love my department, both collectively and individually. I genuinely believe that teachers are better at their job when they are happy. For some people, happiness cannot be found within their particular school for one reason or another; and of course, some will always decide to move on. Yet I want to strive this year to ensure all teachers are as happy as they can possibly be. To me, that means supporting, rallying and knowing when to stop talking. It also means listening to concerns and needs, and changing practices which are causing unhappiness. This might sound overly simplified, but I do think it is that simple. Happy teachers, happy students, happy school.
2. Empowered department
My department is amazing. They have the results to back it up, and should be shouting from the rooftops about their amazingness. There are many ways to empower a department, and I’m going to start with meetings. I have run too many department meetings. It is time to supportively delegate. I’m definitely not the last word on very many (any?) practices, and have learned so much from my colleagues already. I’d like to assess where we are at the start of the year, and then explore who is nailing it in areas we’re not all nailing it. For example, in my year 11 this year no child achieved an A in either language or literature. This is a first for me, and I’m worried about bringing my future students to that high level. Conversely, in one of my colleague’s classes, every single child achieved an A or A* in English Language. I’d like to know what she did, and I’m sure the whole department would.
I’ve written about 100% very many times, so it should come as no shock that I’d like 100% of our year 11 to achieve A*-C in English Language. Yes, I know that we really need to be aiming for Bs; yes, I know I should be thinking about Literature as well. But we need to begin somewhere, and this is where I will begin. The new year 11s are inevitably a different group, with different starting points. They are also tenacious, hard-working and committed. These attributes have long triumphed over “prior attainment”, and I see no reason why they cannot this year.