Jill Wood doesn’t look like a revolutionary. She’s softly spoken, her hair is neatly styled, and she’s not wearing any commercially produced Che Guevara merchandise. But this year she was the only head who stood her ground and boycotted SATs in her school.
Her main driver was that SATs aren’t the best way to assess children’s learning. She saw the stress and pressure that learners and teachers were put in under and felt it outweighed the benefit and impact. So she quietly said ‘Enough’.
What’s interesting about this is the mammoth amount of will power requires to stick to your values if you’re in education.
As a consultant, I hear horrific stories of Teachers being bullied. I see Leaders on their knees caught in the middle between an administration and their staff and students. And, in a recent meeting with the DFE, I saw civil servants running to catch up with a new change in Minister.
Living under pressure may be par for the course in 2017, but making decisions in that state is unlikely to be the quickest route to success. When faced with choices, knowing what matters most is your key. Your values are your lighthouse in the storm.
Values aren’t words on a wall. You live them. They are your personal brand and they drive your professional choices. They drive us whether we acknowledge them or not and acknowledging them is critical so that we can prevent the misery that comes from compromising them.
Over the 20 years I’ve spent teaching, training, coaching and leading in education the main source of distress has been the feeling that people are being asked to do something they have questions about but feel are not being heard.
As perceived threats increase, our drive becomes diminished and the ability to be compassionate towards ourselves dissipates. Fear creeps in and makes herself at home so that we resign ourselves to dissatisfaction, and stop asking questions.
Or we make a change.
I’ve spent a long time compromising what I believe in. I don’t know if Jill made the right decision but I did know that your values aren’t really yours unless they cost you something. The clue is in the title: Value. Also that I am happier, more effective, more resourceful, more resilient and more authentic since identifying what I stand for.
What matters most to you?