Saturday, 12 June 2010

"If I were absolutely certain about all things,
I would spend my life in anxious misery, fearful of losing my way.
But since everything and anything are aways possible,
the miraculous is always nearby and wonders shall never, ever cease."
Robert Fulghum
It has been another interesting week full of the miraculous...

On Monday, I was invited by the Race Equality Partnership to talk about what Education Leeds has achieved and how we are building the future to ensure that equality, diversity and community cohesion are at the heart of the new children's services arrangements. I then attended the official opening of the third Gypsy Roma Traveller History Month by the new Lord Mayor and Lady Mayoress who opened the brilliant Roma Embroidery Exhibition at the West Park Centre.

On Thursday, I had breakfast with headteacher colleagues from the West Family of Schools at the Leeds West Academy before I moved on to the Children's Services Scrutiny Board with Eleanor Brazil and Mariana Pexton to talk about the challenges we face and how the Scrutiny Board can help us with their work over the coming year. I also met with a small group of primary headteachers to talk about the future and how they can help us restructure and focus our work as we move into the new children's services arrangements. And finally, I met with the assessor for our 'Customer Service Excellence' assessment who was incredibly positive about what he had seen and the progress we are making as an organisation.

On Friday, I attended and spoke at the 'Building our Brilliant Best' conference which aimed to celebrate the work we are doing and continue to promote and develop equality, diversity and community cohesion. And finally, I attended the Northern Finals of 'The Teaching Awards 2010' at The Carriageworks where two of our talented, brilliant, gorgeous and wonderful colleagues were recognised. Our colleague Carey Norton from Farnley Park Maths and Computing College was the runner-up and received a distinction in the category of Specialist Schools and Academies Trust's 'Outstanding New Teacher of the Year' and our colleague Debra Kelleher from St Theresa's Catholic Primary School was the runner-up and received a distinction in the category of TDA's 'Teaching Assistant of the Year'. Carey also recieved the GTC 'Carol Adams Memorial Award for Excellence in Professional Development, Equalities and Diversity'.

We all know that this is going to be an interesting year… a year full of changes, challenges, surprises and disappointments but also a year of opportunities for those who believe they can make a difference. It is important that we all understand that organisational leadership begins with personal leadership and that we can’t be great at what we do unless we feel great about ourselves. You can’t be positive and supportive of others unless you feel positive and optimistic about yourself and the future. We must work harder to make our colleagues think, understand and believe that they are great; that they have enormous potential, that they can do anything and that the miracles and wonders are common place. I remember Lou Tice telling me that people act as they imagine themselves to be and that changing people's attitude was more important than anything else we could do. I also read a study by Cambridge University which looked at the concept of genius and came to a really interesting set of conclusions... success is about 1% inspiration; about 30 % coaching, teaching and support and about 70% sheer hard work. So it's true, you sceptics, you can be great at almost anything if you are prepared to put in the work! The only thing that is holding you back is your own perceptions of what you are capable of. I have believed for a long time that those who believe they can, can and those who believe they can't, can't... simple and working with my colleague Dirk Gilleard has reinforced and strengthened these beliefs. Isn't it sad however that many of us have convinced ourselves that we are not clever, not intelligent or not talented... which is, of course, the excuse not to work hard at being the talented, brilliant, gorgeous and wonderful human being each and everyone of us could be! So we have to help our colleagues alter their attitudes and to alter the way they see themselves. Indeed, our primary function should be to help everyone we work with to change their self-image and to think better of themselves. We must constantly celebrate every achievement however small and work hard to inspire colleagues in Education Leeds, colleagues in schools, young people and parents and carers. We must all work to release the enormous potential that currently lies dormant in our offices, our schools and our homes and we must create an environment where these things can flourish, grow and develop. We must look after each other and ourselves… we must read great books, visit great places and immerse ourselves in great music, art and culture, and be inspired by the extraordinary world in which we live. We must continue to learn and continue to improve and develop our talents, our abilities and our skills.

We must all remember the key messages so that we nurture the magic, develop the creative edge, foster imagination and keep all our colleagues happy, healthy, safe and successful… whatever it takes. And again, in case you’ve forgotten the key messages:
  • focus and work hard;
  • remember to regularly take a break;
  • read lots and learn from everything you do;
  • celebrate other people’s achievements;
  • always say thank you;
  • share your experiences, your learning and your successes;
  • reduce the paper;
  • clean up the clutter;
  • be positive;
  • don’t dwell on the negatives; and
  • never lie about anything important.

And when the going gets tough:

  • smile and laugh at life;
  • search for ways to have fun;
  • breathe deeply, stretch and exercise regularly;
  • get enough sleep; and
  • always count your blessings.


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