Just over a year ago I stood in front of 300 teachers and decided to tell them the truth about themselves.
It was no mean feat seeing as my default setting for my entire career had been lying.
I started teaching feeling lucky to even have a job – which is probably partly why I stuck out a year working for a headteacher who kept touching my bottom.
When I handed my notice in he told me I’d never work in the authority again. Just like his attitude to women, he was completely wrong and I waltzed into an infant school staffed by the most amazing female KS1 educators on the planet.
Those phenomenal women taught me what it was to take a stand by politely, yet objectively, questioning policy to find a way of keeping the learners as the first priority. Professionally I was growing but I still gave in to the nagging voice at the back of my mind that told me I wasn’t good enough.
I allowed my next school to convince me I was naive. Though I refused to join in with the constant negativity and moaning in the staff room, I did opt to stay quiet and keep my head down.
Basically, I took a lot of crap. As a young teacher, it felt like the government and my school leadership were taking turns to screw me over! I blamed the system, compromised my values and rationalised it all by thinking ‘I’m just a teacher. What can I do?’ Without noticing, I trained myself to play a smaller and smaller game in which work came first and I didn’t matter. I could, would and should put up with all the guff because ultimately it was about the kids, right?
The truth was that I had forgotten my WHY. I had forgotten the teacher I was before I became the teacher that the system said I should be. I’d traded in being a gladiator for being the guy who counts the ticket stubs and sticks the number in Excel hoping they add up.
The story I told myself centred around the fact that I had no choice. It changed when I stopped focusing on survival strategies and switched to focusing my energy on my state of mind. In turn, that interrupted my limiting story and transformed my actions.
Today I deliver my keynote and workshops in many schools, businesses and individuals, helping them to do exactly the same. I see toxic cultures with students/clients despised, staff demoralised and leaders completely faking it. The good news is that it’s all figureoutable!
Leaders – here’s a message especially for you: I see you sacrifice so much to make a difference then find yourself blamed for failures by those above and below them. You feel isolated and unable to be open and honest, even with other leaders. for fear of what might happen if people knew the truth.
It’s all too easy to sink when you haven’t got your WHY front and centre. What you strive for takes so much conviction and is not going to be an easy ride. On top of that, when you do have success, others will come in and see what they once imagined they might become but instead of picking your brain they’ll choose to turn what we do into some kind of competitor and be jealous.
It sucks but here’s the truth…
You. Are. Olivia. Pope.
Taking a stand in our education system isn’t for the faint-hearted! You’re the educator equivalent of a modern-day gladiator!
You DO add massive value.
You CAN take fear, excuses and limitations and deliver results.
You ARE the on the side of the angels!
Just over a year ago I decided to be vulnerable in front of my peers. It was really scary and yet the very thing that I thought would discount me is what gave people agency and allowed me to see myself as the leader I am.
You’re a gladiator. Tell the truth. Not sure how to? Here’s your script. https://youtu.be/Arpp-ZdrkXQ