25 September 2023

The Monday Briefing: Inside of Me

The Monday Briefing: Inside of Me

It’s been somewhat of a whirlwind week - the sort of week that lays bare a challenge to oneself: have I got enough in me to get through this - and get through it well?

With the ‘start of term cold’ growing in strength through the course of the week, bringing with it aches, pains and a nasty sore throat, an added, unwanted complication to my packed schedule also announced itself.

Nonetheless, when one enjoys their job, everything becomes so much easier to endure.

It’s great to get back to fully teaching History after a few years delivering English Language to our GCSE years. History remains my passion, and I’m very much enjoying having the involvement I do with my classes this year. It’s so pleasing to receive the work you set, both on time and done to a good standard, and I can tell that the students are keen to learn, perform well and improve.

This was also clearly apparent throughout my assemblies to all year groups on Wednesday, where all students received their CAT4 standardised test scores from student induction day, analysed them and questioned their strengths, weaknesses, and what this meant for their targets in terms of performance for the end of the year. I was delighted to hear the riposte from many that ‘I think I can do better than those grades.’ 

The latter part of the assembly broached the question on how - how is this going to happen?

After explaining some methods which all students can use, from day one, as to how to get the very best from themselves this year - largely by never letting misconception grow by always ensuring there is a prompt and detailed answer to a question when a point of misunderstanding is reached - they seemed to understand better what was required of them.

I’ve also been able to fully embrace one of my voluntary roles this week, as Chair of Governors at Reddiford School. I headed up my first Governors meeting on Monday, and attended a wonderful 110 year anniversary ceremony on Friday afternoon, where it was a privilege to present a speech to staff, children and parents on the importance of curiosity, and the necessity of always striving to find the answers for growth. I had previously spoken with the Reddiford School community before the start of the summer holidays at Speech Day, and thoroughly enjoyed having the chance to share the inspirational story of Levison Wood’s walking of the entire length of the Nile river ten years ago.

Anyone who observes my delivery of a speech, whether to a large group of people, or to a small group may not realise that I was once a very shy teenager, who would baulk at the prospect of sharing my thoughts with an audience, no matter the size. I’m a big believer in the maxim of ‘if I can do it, then anyone can.’ The critical factors in the transformation, simply put, have been effort, practice and a willingness to take feedback in order to improve. Such an approach tends to put anyone in a good place to take on a new skill.

Back at Ealing, we continue to grow, with interviews for new students continuing apace. I’m utterly delighted to say that we are in a really healthy position now - and that the population of the College are universal in the mindset that they are here to do their best, and to help their peers in reaching the goals they have too.

Connected to this, it was a pleasure to bring together the newly elected Student Leadership Team on Thursday, who commenced the work of enhancing the student experience for 2023-2024. They have voted for who will be their chair, and will now start to delegate responsibilities in line with the College development priorities for the year. All seven students have their qualities, and I’m looking forward to seeing how well they gel together.

Lastly, and speaking of gels, I had my own personal challenge to overcome this week. It was the 11th running of the Ealing Half Marathon on Sunday, and it was wonderful to be taking part. I’ve run a few half marathons before, but this was my first since last October in Valencia - which had been a hot and unhappy experience. I’ve been training where I can in amongst the hard work of the start of term, and started really well. The first 13k went absolutely to plan as I followed the 1 hour 40 pacer diligently. Unfortunately at the 13k mark, I started to cramp up and had to stop in order to stretch out my ailing hamstrings a few times before the end, but I made it round, and I’m proud of my efforts in making that happen.

I was pleased to make it, and with a creditable time of 1 hour 47 minutes, one minute inside my last Ealing Half effort in 2021.

I’ll adapt my training for my next Half Marathon in a few weeks time - longer and slower in order to strengthen my legs against cramp - but throughout this week, I’ve become more convinced than ever that one must continue to challenge oneself, and really test the substance of what is inside, otherwise life can become a little too safe, I find.

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