#Teacher5aday Pledge: farewell, 2020

Reading back to my post for #Teacher5aday last year, I’ve come to realise two things:

– we inadvertedly predict our own future

– continuing to learn is one of the most wonderful things about what it means to be human.

I recently finished reading Annie Duke’s How to Decide, and she outlines on the opening pages, two key principles we do well to remember when we make decisions: that we cannot impact factors outside of our control, and where we do exert control, the outcome of these aspects is entirely down to our ability to make good decisions. Where we are advocates for the mantra ‘go with your gut,’ this is problematic, because to get better at making decisions, we need to be able to evaluate how well our decisions were to be beat placed to learn from the process. Go with our gut, and we cannot sift through said gut to work out what prompted the decision.

Many of my decisions this year have moved away from going with my gut, but also away from weighing up the pros and cons, because these are both logical fallacies- we already know our decisions before we address either our gut. The pantomime we take ourselves through is a process of affirmation, so we can placate ourselves that we have given the decision sufficient thought. If anyone asks, we can safely say that we thought it over first.

This year, I have made decisions based on two questions:

Is this decision something I feel excited about?

Will this decision ensure that I continue to work at a quality that I will be satisfied with?

I have been invited to work with teachers, schools, Trusts, sharing expertise around workload and curriculum, and gain so much from each and every invitation: I cannot tell you how exciting this makes the coming year. I have worked with Subject Leads to develop curriculum that excites and inspires teams, which is what teaching is really all about, because I categorically stand by the fact that high quality curriculum will keep teachers in the classroom for longer. I have collaborated with communities, organisations and individuals whom I deeply admire; I contributed to Oak National and am delighted that my curriculum content on rhetoric now sits as part of the Oak English curriculum map, for students to access all over the world. I somehow managed to have two books published, and that almost feels too ridiculous to write down.

However, I have made decisions not to take on projects this year as well. I have learned- and Sarah Tennant has been an integral part of this journey- that in order to commit to what excites me, in order to work at the standard that I expect of myself, making decisions to commit to projects that which excite me, which leave me fired up, I must make decisions which will ensure I place those two questions at the heart.

Far from being filled with the ‘discomfort of no,’ this process has been liberating for me this year. I have given my time to some of the most fantastic projects and opportunities where I have been able to have some of the most fascinating and fulfilling discussions of my teaching career to date. Every one of these conversations have not only been a wonderfully welcome distraction from a world that’s been a little nonsensical at times to say the least, but has helped me to actualise this process for myself a little more each time.

Each time I did something which felt exciting, and each time I knew I was making a decision which would result in a high quality outcome, I was predicting the future. The choices made were the choices I always wanted to make: I had either just took too long to make them previously, or I made decisions based upon other factors and ignored my own litmus. And so, whilst we might think it is our gut, the decisions we make with our gut are actually the choices that felt good to make: our ‘gut’ is just that great feeling of making a decision that will enable us to be the person we want to be.

2021 will be a year of decisions, as every day, hour, moment exists as a series of deliberations for all of us. I intend to fill it with all of the things that pass my ultimate test, and we shall see where we end up.

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