The last few weeks have been filled with oh so much and I’ve been blogging and then not blogging and drafting and then deleting. Over the last few years, my blog has become a space for me to figure out the tangled mess that is my head but I haven’t been able to use it in quite the same way in the last few weeks.
Over the last 24 hours, it would appear that I have reached a sense of clarity about things I had never thought about before.
Perception is something I often write about here and it does cause me problems: the way I have perceived situations is often so far removed from the reality and others’ viewpoints that I’ve reached a different solar system entirely.
It has also got in the way of my learning.
I thought that for the last few years, I was learning. I thought I was learning a great deal about myself, others, education and CPD. But this learning was problematic. My last workplace was one filled with more comfort than I realised: all of my ideas were perceived to be good, all of my work was celebrated and feedback was always positive.
In my classroom, I have always been one to hold high expectations of my learners and I always recognised the importance of feedback for their progress. If they handed a piece of work in that wasn’t of the highest standard and I accepted it, how would this help their learning? It might seem kind at the time and they might feel confident at that moment but how long would this high last for them before they came crashing to earth realising they’d learnt less than they thought and got things wrong more times than they knew.
I have entered a world of high expectations and unlike the ones I’m familiar with, these ones are supported by substance: measurable impact is important and not just any ‘good’ idea will do: it has to be the right one, in the right place, at the right time. This is as it should be and as it certainly would be for my learners.
I would be lying if I said that this new world hasn’t completely terrified me but in the last 24 hours, weird things have begun to happen:
- I’ve booked myself onto numerous learning & development activities (I haven’t been to anything on this scale since June)
- I’ve stayed up late two nights in a row doing work, and not because I had too much work but because I wanted to get going on things because there were ideas (that hasn’t happened in perhaps a year)
- I can’t wait for a weekend ahead of learning from reading (I almost couldn’t sleep last night because I knew there was reading and pens and highlighters and sticky notes awaiting)
- I feel really excited about my job and what lies ahead (and I haven’t felt like that since the start of my leadership journey in 2013 when I first ventured beyond the world of learning in my classroom)
The me I know is recovering from the shock to the system and realising that the new job is precisely the challenge I needed. I’ll be surrounded by people who I can learn a great deal from and they will challenge me to achieve more than I ever thought I could. As long as we can all make it past the part where I agonise over decisions, question all that I thought was good (just in case I was wrong and no-one had told me) and lose all confidence in myself on a regular basis.
If I had never thrown myself into a full teaching timetable with all of the classes no-one else wanted to teach then I am in no doubt that I would not be where I am today.
If I had never made the leap into leading whole-college CPD days with zero experience then I certainly wouldn’t be able to be in the role I’m in now.
If I had never made the move from an art gallery, pacing slowly around rooms, giving tours and enjoying my allocated study time in the library, I would never have entered the exhilarating, soulful and inspiring world of Further Education.
Comfortable feels nice for a while but how conducive is it to seriously life-altering learning experiences? I know which I’d prefer…