Last half term was a tough one both professionally and personally. I saw and heard a lot of things. Things I didn’t agree with, but remained silent. I thought that perhaps the system I was working in wasn’t what was broken, but that it was me for not speaking up about it. Alan Thompson challenged me to reflect on what wasn’t broken, but was fixed. So with 7 weeks of the summer term left, then a 2 week football tour overseas with 48 pupils starting on the day we break up, I have tried to return to work with some enthusiasm, energy and above all hope.
Every Monday at 7.45am I will sit down round a table in our canteen with my department. The 6 of us as always meet early on a Monday morning and over a coffee we action point the week ahead. Once completed we will talk of our holidays, our lives outside of work and of course sport. This is never hard, always so easy, even when we put in a shift with Saturday and Sunday fixtures. I have the privilege to have appointed all of them, so they are my team. We share similar values and goals and together I can see us building a real moral purpose for the department. It makes going into work so much easier. I trust all of them. They support each other and myself, they take the initiative, they care about each other and the pupils under their care. They are so committed and work so hard I have made my self dispensable. Anyone of them, even our NQT, could step up and do my job. I would not be missed.
My Department is fixed.
The school I work at is an academy convertor. The decision was made as it was thought additional funding would be available. This was misguided, but as with every cloud, there was a silver lining. It has granted us some autonomy with the curriculum. We can begin to design PE for the context of our school and the children we have. Many of the decisions we make in PE are now about what is best for our pupils, rather than how best can we meet the task of delivering a curriculum enforced upon us. Whilst still a work in progress and in reality a long way off the finished article the discussions we have and the implementations we make are always first and foremost for the benefit of the pupils we have in our care.
My curriculum is getting fixed.
One of the first things I did when I took over was to source funding for extra-curricular provision. With parents help I introduced a yearly voluntary contribution. Parents could make a one off payment (each year) towards the cost of running extra-curricular provision. To help raise awareness I produced an online booklet, via our school website, of what we currently offered and what more we could offer with the donation. After 5 years it has been a great success with almost half of parents donated yearly, improving after school provision not only in sport but music, art, drama, debating, philosophy club, science and robotics club and many others. This has been hugely important to have got right as it allows to meet the increase transport costs of regular fixtures.
The extra-curricular opportunities we offer is fixed.
Before school health, fitness and movement intervention clubs. Lunchtime recreational clubs. After school training in rugby, football, cricket, lacrosse, badminton, athletics and swimming 5 days a week. Saturday morning block fixtures. House competitions. Floodlit cups. Stadium visits and tours. Sport Science Uni department visits. All day cricket festivals. Primary school tournaments. GCSE PE as an extra-curricular club. Overseas tours. National competitions. Sunday morning school lacrosse. It is tiring. It is constant. In term time it never stops. A simple thank you from one of them makes it all worthwhile and then some.
A simple smile and thank you from a child can fix a lot of things.
Without doubt though the greatest thing is the children I work with. This is what keeps me coming back in the next day and then the next. I see their energy, their enthusiasm and their hope. I realise that if I do not match that in my relationships with them, then it will only be me that is responsible for it diminishing in them. The moment that a pupil tells you they took up table tennis gymnastics or running or rugby or dancing outside of school because of you. The moment you meet an ex-student and they tell you that they are still enjoying being active because of you. The moment a parent tells you that their child hated being active, but now they can’t wait to get outside play with their friends. These are the moments that are truly wonderful. The moments to be savoured, before trying to replicate it with the next and then the next. To be responsible for the spark, that ignites a possible lifetime of purposeful physical pursuit, makes the day to day pressures of teaching evaporate in an instant. It is those moments that give me purpose and meaning.
In those moments I am fixed.