Always waiting for Ofsted…

So we are now five weeks into the new school year. It is crazy how quickly time is flying by. I’ve decided to start blogging weekly as I feel I will have more to say and ramble less. I’ll try it, anyways….can’t promise a lack of ‘ramblings’ though!

Today I attended an ‘Ofsted Ready’ course. It was very useful in updating me with all the new requirements from the revised framework. It seems we are in a continual cycle of change at the moment. I suppose it is a good thing we are so used to change as it makes it much easier to deal with when it does rear its head.

Your head is so full of information when you come away from these courses. You don’t really know where to start. You know that you have things under control and key documents prepared but you walk away with yet another endless list of tasks to do, just in case.

We are now in constant limbo-always expecting Ofsted, or ‘just about to be expecting Ofsted.’ It could be two more years before they actually walk through your door, but you always must be ready. Especially now, with the ‘no notice’ inspections. Yes, this does fill me with anxiety (only because I’m a perfectionist and at least like a bit if notice before someone walks through our door). However, our schools should constantly be ‘ready’ for inspection. Our job is to consistently provide the very best care, education and learning experience for every child in our school. That is part of the ‘culture’ not something you can ‘prepare’ for. Therefore we have to get it right all of the time. So, ‘no notice’ inspections might put us on edge, but if our children are safe, inspired by outstanding teaching and being challenged to ‘always be their best,’ there shouldn’t be much to worry about (except making sure the reams and reams of paperwork they will want to look at is up to date!).

Websites are now a crucial part of the process. I walked away knowing that our school website is in a much better state than where it was a year ago. (You can read my earlier posts on websites). I now have one that reflects our school- who we are, what we stand for and what we represent. It focuses on the child and provides a way for parents to keep up to date on what is going on in their child’s class as well as ways to further support them at home. Part of the ‘Nob-Negotiables’ list at the start of the year, was the requirement of all teachers to update their class page weekly to help support our home-school link. And yes….I have a headteacher’s blog on there as well!

A massive thank you to @philhealy10. Check him out. He took my vision and truly turned it into a reality. My husband was stunned that someone was able to actually create something that I was so thrilled with. He has included every aspect in our website that I could have imagined. It is exactly as I wanted it…..Ofsted ready, parent friendly and a true reflection of our ‘unique’ and outstanding school.

Words cannot highlight how appreciative I am @philhealy10……thank you.

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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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