It’s been just over a year since I wrote my first blog and entered the world of Twitter. And what a year it has been.
Firstly, let me explain the reasons behind Fake Headteacher. Having thoroughly enjoyed my first fifteen years of teaching in primary schools and regarded as a good to outstanding teacher, I found myself on the brink of a nervous breakdown and within a whisker of being put on capabilities. You can read about this experience further in this blog. It was a hard to accept because I had also experienced working within two SLTs and co-ordinated literacy and maths in different schools.
After a very difficult term, I managed to find another job (as did lots of other staff at the time), but it took me about two years to restore my confidence. As I spoke to close friends about the experience, it became obvious that they too were beginning to lose faith in the education system and the general stresses and strains it was having on their well-being.
More and more friends were struggling to keep up with the workload – some were off long term sick and others were thinking of leaving teaching.
So rather than moaning to my family and close friends about how disillusioned I was becoming about teaching, I wrote a blog in order to let off a little steam. I like writing so I found it very cathartic. I linked it to my new Twitter page too.
I hoped that a handful of people might find it and read it. Maybe I would even get a couple of likes. Over the next two weeks, my phone wouldn’t stop ‘pinging’ with notifications of new followers and direct messages. It soon became clear that many negative experiences I had encountered were occurring in other schools.
I continued to write my blogs which are based on real experiences over the last few years (with a little creative license of course). It was, and still is, a brilliant way to let go of many things that frustrated me about teaching. And at the same time, allowing other teachers to realise they were not alone and that many policies in schools needed looking at.
I had no idea that a year later I would have nearly 6,000 followers on Twitter and receive regular direct messages from teachers complaining of similar experiences.
One of the most remarkable things that Fake Headteacher has done for me however, is the discovery of some amazing leaders in schools that are leading the way in terms of mental health, workload and sensible policy making. This for me has been extremely valuable. If it wasn’t for Twitter, I would be none the wiser. I recommend Twitter now to all of my friends (and SLT).
So as well as Fake Headteacher allowing me to let off a bit of steam (and by the way, I recommend anyone using writing as a means of creative therapy), my own CPD has increased ten fold. From whole class reading to the scraping of highlighters; from the cutting down of excessive deep marking to the end of triple marking; from simplified lesson planning to the removal of lesson observations; from the scraping of evidencing verbal feedback to the removal of excessive use of photographic evidence etc. I could go on and on.
Believe it or not, some schools are beginning to change! Yeah.
Fake Headteacher has allowed me to discover that there are schools out there that are actively trying to reduce unnecessary workload.
If I had a pound every time I have heard ‘it is what it is – we just have to do it’ or ‘OFSTED will like it’. Arghhhh.
So thank you to everyone that has enjoyed reading the blogs and responded to my tweets. I have recently changed jobs again where they have a very sensible approach to workload (and they are a RI school too).
There is still a lot of work to be done in schools. Teacher recruitment is in crisis for a reason. And I would argue that a lot of that comes from SLT’s attitude to workload, staff well-being and policy making – NOT OFSTED (controversial I know).