Yea, I shall return with the tide- Khalil Gibra, The Prophet
With my MTPTProject hat on, flexiblity is not just an option, but a right. Seeking equilibrium in every sense, means to understand that we do not all live the same life, learn the same knowledge, perceive in the same way. To me, flexibility is more than working differently: it is an acceptance that others work differently. At its most distilled form, it is tolerance for the way in which others approach the same task with a different head on.
Flexiblity has enabled me to take every step that I have wanted to take in the last eleven years. Instead of stumbling blocks, these bends and flexes meant that I could complete my degree full time and work, train to teach as a single parent, have my second and third child and not felt that these were obstacles to what I set out to achieve, just simply that the other parts of my life outside of my professional one needed my time too.
That isn’t to say that choosing to look at flexibility is easy, or that everyone approaches with the same assumption that we just have to work differently. I have bitten my tongue on more than one occasion as I was called a part timer, my maternity leave referred to as ‘holiday,’ people asking how my day off was, as though a day at home with two children was the equivalent of a spa day. However, I do believe that flexing how we look at the way we work, both as a profession but also on a societal level really can change the world, not just for me, or someone else, but actually, by being flexible in our ideas and approach, we invite more and more people of value to the conversation.
The flex of maternity leave allowed me to develop professionally, as little ones and I visited several schools and considered the various way in which we all tackle the same task at hand within education. I was able to develop Litdrive, a platform that I hope continues to reach not only English teachers on Twitter, but those that are resourcing in isolation, or choose not to be on social media but can continue to share and learn from one another all the same. I was able to have the space and time to write, which became Stop Talking About Wellbeing, a culmination of my thoughts around teaching gathered over the years. Flexibility isn’t just late starts and early finishes, or for people with children, but the mindset that in order to hold deep, purposeful thinking in high regard, or develop people with the rich, diverse knowledge that helps them to feel fulfilled in all aspects of their lives, we must find ways of working that provide them with a malleable structure so that they can do so with some sense of freedom.
Above all, flexibility is fundamentally vital to growth-it breathes trust and shifts accountability from an endpoint, or deadline, to something that the individual holds themselves to, which is ultimately far more powerful. Imagine a world where you are given a loose blueprint within which you construct your own design: your own development, your own journey, your own milestones, and instead of being told that it isn’t possible, being asked, ‘what do you need?’ That’s flexibility.