Focus, Focus, Focus……Books about Education….

What is it about books that lure you in, convince you to leaf through their pages with interest and inquisitiveness?  

My bookshelf is full of books waiting to be read.  It is full of books that have been read as well, of course……

At the moment I have about five new, unopened books – all about education, that I have been wanting to read over the summer.  I just haven’t yet…..but I need to, I really want to.

When my mum and I went to New York, I had taken three books with me, two education books and one that was a fiction book (she had given to me).  When I pulled one out on the air plane, she asked me why in the world I had brought those books with me.  She retorted, “You’re on holiday, stop thinking about work!”  But what many people don’t understand, is that I love to read these books.  I love to learn about ‘best practice’ about how to be better, how to improve.  I’m a nerd……but I’m always looking for things, ideas, philosophies that really can transform children’s lives.

So yes, perhaps these books don’t allow me to drift off into a foreign land or be gripped by the tensions of dramatic plot, but they allow me to question, to ponder and to imagine the perfect school, the ideal learner or a new exciting way to engage children and to ensure they love to learn.  That is what excites me, inspires me, gives me purpose……how can that not be enjoyable?

My problem is that I cannot just focus on ‘one’ book……I would like to read them all at once.  I can never just have one book that I am reading, there is always two or even more.  I’m trying to focus on getting through one and then I’ll work my way through the rest.  I just can’t seem to get through them as quickly as I would like.  These books take more time than fiction.  Where I could stay up during one night and get through a whole fictional account, I have to re-read different lines, headings and paragraphs in my ‘education’ books – I highlight, I post-it, take notes and fold down important pages – I use the book, I memorise interesting points – I jot things down in my notebook.  I study these books and re-visit them when the time is needed.  So, these books take time – they take focus.

I enjoy the process of reading these books, the whole routine excites me.  So, how can this be considered work?  

My husband always reminds me that you will never work a day in your life if you love what you do.  

How right he is……



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No longer…..first year of headship…..

I have finally done it…….

I know that I haven’t officially passed the date of becoming a ‘second year headteacher,’ but I thought I had better change the title before I did.  So, the title will no longer be called, ‘First Year of Headship,’ but it is now just the name of my domain – Headsmart.  But still, it will be my reflections, my musings, my commentary about life as a headteacher, life in general…nothing will change.  I hope by continuing this blog, my understanding and aptitude for being a headteacher will continue to grow and develop.  

I have to say, that keeping this blog this year has really helped deepen my understanding of the complexities that headship brings with it.  What could have been very difficult decisions were often made easier by writing and thinking through them.  I have always been under the impression that taking time and thinking through decisions will often ensure the best ‘final’ decisions.  This is exactly what this blog has allowed me to do.  

So, for those who already follow me, I hope that you continue this journey with me.  I have appreciated comments from people in similar situations and the professional dialogues that have stemmed from this have been very useful.  I had no idea the wealth of experience and resources that I would fall into!  So, thank you to everyone who has given me advice, commented on questions that I have posed or just given me words of support – you have all helped me to get through my first year as headteacher.  I really could not have done it without you.

I am looking forward to the incredible journey that my second year will inevitably bring.  I look forward to the ups and downs, the struggles and challenges, the successes and celebrations.  And again, I look forward to continuing to share it with you.

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Enjoying every moment…..

Life is short. Too short to hold resentments, too short to not hold your loved ones tightly, too short not to laugh as often as possible, too short to have regrets.

We hear those quotes about living in the moment or not putting off things that you could do today. They are true, all so true.

We don’t know when our time will come….so we need to truly take each moment and enjoy them all. We need to be ‘mindful’ of the world around us, take pleasures in the small details as often these can be the most important, and even the most memorable.

We need to hold our families close, really get to know them and take pleasure in the things that make them happy. It is our close friends and families that will always have our backs, who will always be there.

So live in the ‘moment.’ Don’t keep telling your children ‘not now’ or ‘later,’ but listen to them, look at their paintings or stories and take a moment to show them how proud you are. Give them your time, give your time to others, always, as people will remember you for this. Take the time to look people in the eye, show them your appreciation and take the time to ‘listen’ to what they have to say.

I am always in a rush…many of us always are, it is so easy to be in a world where everything is so fast-paced and full on. So, my challenge is to slow down, to take a little more time… be more ‘mindful’ of all that is around me.

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Laughter makes everything all right…

One cannot have enough board games. Over the past few days, staying at my brothers house in New Jersey- we have ended every evening with a board game.

The thing about board games is that you have to talk to each other, you laugh, you jest, you compete, you get to know your opponents that much better.

In my family we have always loved playing games, so playing new games that I have never played is so exciting!
Over the past few days, we have played, ‘The Game of Things,’ ‘Mexican Train Dominoes,’ ‘Zinga,’ and ‘Uno.’

I’m now thinking about what games I can add to our pile at home.

Go grab a game, turn off the TV and spend the evening with your family. The laughter will make you all feel closer.

Go open a box and see what transpires….

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Food, Glorious Food!

Why is it when you go on holiday you feel as though you need to try every type of food that passes across your line of vision?

I am so full. I have been eating non-stop since being on this trip. In the ‘real world’ you aren’t constantly thinking about what you are going to eat next…..most of the time I am skipping meals. But here it seems that before we have even finished the meal that is being eaten, we are thinking about what is going to be next. We have had Korean, Mexican, ‘New York’ pizza, Vietnamese, the list goes on. It is ridiculous how much food we have consumed.

Not only that, but also when a meal is finished we feel the need to go somewhere else to get a desert. Only in the USA!

Tomorrow we are going shopping. I’m going to be continuing this lust for food by buying items that we cannot get in England and that we are running out of. Things that we just can’t seem to go without……things we would prefer not to go without.

It seems, however, that the list of items is just growing longer and longer.

I have come back after six years and am remembering all the things I used to love to eat and drink. I just want to try them all again… is getting crazy and obsessive….

I went into the local Walgreens yesterday and landed in their candy isle…….there are just too many delicious things….too many things I remember as being completely delicious… is kind of like being in Willy Wonka’s Factory… will end up in some sort of trouble unless you can resist the temptation….

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Another Day….

We have had another amazing day. We walked through Central Park and ended up at the carnival for the children to go on all the rides. It was an extremely hot day- I’d forgotten how ‘hot’ the East’s summer could be!

After lunch, the Natural History Museum and miles of walking, we decided we needed to cool off with swimming, which is exactly what we did.

The evening has ended with another amazing meal cooked by my sister-in-law ( with the best ribs I have ever eaten in my life-hands down!), frozen yogurt and a few hours of laughter playing board games.

It is the moments doing the ‘simple’ things that you cherish the most. A day out can cost so much but you don’t need to spend a penny to enjoy spending time with others. Having conversations, laughing and sharing memories will forever create new ones for the future.

Go spend time with those you love.

Time is more valuable than any amount of money… spend it wisely!

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Brotherly Love….

So, as I have mentioned, I haven’t seen my two older brothers for six years….it is amazing with family how you can just pick up where you left off. We are all the same at heart, just older and wiser.

Even though my family, my husband and children, are at home in England and I miss them terribly, spending quality time with my brothers and their families has been incredible.

Today we all went to the pool and I began realising that when you aren’t living ‘somewhere’ anymore, you miss things to begin with but then manage to forget them. But when you go back to that ‘somewhere’ you begin to realise all the things you actually do miss. However, saying that, no where is quite like home, and you would gladly give up those things just to be ‘home.’

We ended up going on a run. We began with the idea that we would run eight miles. Well, for me and my oldest brother, this turned to only two, and I was beaten! I could barely finish the two! I felt marginally better when my other brother finally came back after only running four (this is the brother who is ‘the’ marathon runner) and was also wiped out.

Dinner was a Korean feast – a BBQ that was set up in the middle of our table. The food and company were amazing.

The evening ended with me reading bedtime stories to three very worn out children. Having my brothers’ children around me, helps make missing my family a bit more bearable.

I wish I could give them all goodnight kisses this evening….

Your family is so important…..hold them close and remember that they are the ones who will always have your back…..

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