We talk about a WAGOLL (What A Good one Looks Like) in reference to a piece of work that learners can take features from and use to reverse engineer success in their own writing.

I’ve seen persuasive writing so through the roof, A* answers nailed and even maths improve using WAGOLLS. (Please overlook my passive aggressive jibe at maths – it’s an inside joke with myself about how Literacy is so much more exciting than all that number stuff. It’s literally only a matter of time before I am hunted down and kicked in the shin by Carol Vorderman!)

I take the analogy deeper and think about WAGOLLs in terms of learners – and ourselves. I use it as a tool to get more specific. After all, clarity is power. So in your school, what does a good writer look like in Term 2 of Y1? How does that differ from a good writer in Term 3 of Y5?

And what about you? What does a good <insert your name here> look like?

Take a moment and spitball a few thoughts about that.

It’s a surprisingly hard question isn’t it? During my workshops, I ask people to verbalise what success looks like to them. I want them to get some clarity by chatting it through with another human.

Some talk about work. Some about family, children, relationships. Once one guy got very animated about the unlikely occurrence of Liverpool winning the double this century. The areas of our lives we first think of can be telling.

Last week I reflected on how we are all fighting for our lives in one way or another. I adapted Mrs May’s JAM acronym to describe how the teachers I meet through my consultancy work with schools feel about their own professional and often personal life:

Just About Managing

This week after chatting to the Queen of Wellbeing Kathryn Lovewell I have a upgrade for JAM. I’m not talking iPhone 6 to iPhone 7 here. This is more like going from the Tesco Everyday Value Strawberry Jam to Fortnum and Mason’s diamond-encrusted, red berry and cognac preserve!

Joyful And Managing

Kathryn told me about one of her fantastically resourceful programmes around wellbeing in which she empowers teachers to get in the right state for teaching – as opposed to in a right state!

It’s all about that definite or indefinite article baby! (Yeah, stick that in your pipe and some it maths.)

‘The’ right state not ‘A’ right state perfectly sums up my idea of a Jaz WAGOLL.

See, I’m busy. I have a lot of work on, three kids I actually like to spend time with and a husband who once grew a beard without me noticing! I have people relying on me, waiting for me to produce content, teach, cook, meet, speak and not be too knackered to read The Smartest Giant In Town, including all the voices, three times at bedtime.

Last week, I collapsed into bed at 8pm every night like an exhausted lab rat. That’s not a WAGOLL. It’s hardly a definition of success or fulfilment. Sure I got through most of my list – but at what cost?

The WHAT that I have to do will always be there. It’s not going to suddenly dry upon the day I retire, leaving me free to OAP Aqua Aerobics and go grouse hunting. To misquote Bananara: It’s ain’t WHAT you do, it’s the HOW and WHY that you do it.

This week I’m binning my ‘To Do’ list and writing a ‘To Be’ list. I could put my head down, ignore the cold that’s coming and the Christmas parties I’m supposed to be merry at and focus on getting to the end of this term having done everything I have to do this week. I mean, that’s what Automatic Jaz would do.

Or I could interrupt that limiting conversation I have with myself about how I ‘have to’ ‘must do’ and ‘should really do’ and instead commit to getting in to a state of being that starts with compassion and kindness towards myself.

The joy bit is about me being happy with not being perfect. It allows me to focus on progress instead of perfection and adds values to every interaction I have with other humans whether I am coaching them, married to them, originally gave birth to them, or happened upon them due to an unfortunate incident in Aldi involving a shopping trolley with a mind of its own and a some wet celery.

In the unlikely event that this is my last week on earth, I’m going to make it a WAGOLL for myself, my family and my friends. I’m basing that WAGOLL around my values and clarity of What A Good Jaz Looks Like. And I’m proper going for it.

A conscious commitment to adding value, bringing joy.

For just seven short days.

And whether I pull that off or not I’m going for it again next Monday.

You with me?

Join the conversation on Twitter, I’m @jazampawfarr.


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