So....As an entire sector, we are now facing unprecedented stresses, both financially and emotionally impacting us, our wonderful staff, families and setting.
At the moment we remain open, still being cuddled and licked by many a small child! Still holding hands and dancing, still getting messy, still sending them home at the end of their day of adventures, bright-eyed, wild-haired and smiling amidst the world grinding to a halt.
I’ve had a looooong old teaching career now and I’ve never been through such a crisis, let alone navigated and managed everyone else through it too.
I think in times where we need to pull together as a family-(because that’s what this is to us all, a family)-that honesty is the very best policy. We teach your little humans this every day, we teach them to use their words to help ease their strong emotions and resolve conflicts, we teach them to think critically and problem-solve creatively, be kind, consider other people’s perspectives and to share the things we have
We teach this, and we live it in our school, leading by shining example every day and here we are now, trying to lead with these self same principles through this surreal and terrible time.
As a leader right now, I can be honest and tell you the pressure and responsibility of such decision-making, that affects so many people at the moment, is immense. I am someone who likes to know all the facts, but these are changing on a daily basis. I am someone who likes to carefully consider all sides, but there is not enough time. I am someone who likes to be certain I’ve taken the right steps in the right direction, so the utter uncertainty is frankly unnerving.
I’m sure that each and everyone of us in families, education, small businesses, in fact all professions and businesses around the globe, has had many a good cry or needed a hug (or a gin) or two over the last few weeks or months. You’re not weak, you’re not failing, we are all in this, floundering around together and it’s ok to admit that it feels heartbreaking.
There’s no rule book, we’ve not done anything like this before. There’s very little to draw on in terms of history or past experience and times ahead are only going to get tougher as we face potential forced closure and literally fight to keep heads above water.
If there’s one thing we are in early years, it’s resourceful and resilient, we can turn a toilet roll into a dragon or a magical telescope using only our bare hands, glitter and some PVA. 23 times in 2 hours. But, we are only human and although every day is a school day, we still don’t know it all. We’re learning through this together: government, scientists, doctors, virologists, me, my team.
I am writing to call us all together, many people can’t survive without such solidarity and support. Buy a takeout from an independent restaurant, get those local cupcakes delivered, keep that self employed cleaner on or get your nails done in your home if you’re all healthy. We must keep sharing what we have or everything will collapse. I’ve witnessed fights over toilet roll and disregard for others in a self centred world of anxiety and chaos. However, I’ve also seen generosity and community spirit.
I hope we take this pivotal moment to remember in the silence of isolation, how to listen, how to connect, how to appreciate our basics are actually luxuries, how little we truly need to be happy and how grateful and fortunate we really are.
Let’s not put the TV on all day if we can, let’s play games with our families, let’s read, let’s paint, lets tell stories, lets do chores together and chat, call old friends, let’s work in our gardens creating life, building a love of nature and a sense of patience in our children. Not everything amazing is instantaneous, some things are worth waiting for.
Let’s use this as an opportunity to slow down the pace of our ordinarily busy, busy lives. Let’s be in the moment for a short while and reboot (something I definitely find hard with all the demands of work/life balance!) Let your children be ‘bored’ and mope around until they realise you’re really not going to put that telly on....then watch as they quite magically find something to do or be, and I’ll place my bets now that it will be somewhat creative and imaginative. Give them and yourselves a chance to remember our brains are the biggest source of entertainment we have.
We may never get this chance in our lifetime again to reset our aspirations, goals, dreams for ourselves and our families. We must now come together in all the ways we can in order to fight both the fear and what we potentially face at the moment. Our children are watching us.
We are staying positive that we can survive this very real struggle and juggle to keep going and remain sustainable. For me, this is not just a job, although it is my livelihood, it is my family too, it involves my friends, and is my entire life’s work that started as a seed of a dream and through immense efforts, blood, sweat and tears, was born. Over the years, the opportunities and experiences children have had here. Wow. Staggering.
From visiting the elderly singing songs to spotting deer at Ripley Castle, from watching chicks hatch to holding snakes, from sunny picnics and yoga to being buried in crisp autumn leaves....Beautiful childhood memories. Such a lot of little lives touched by the power of the arts and outstanding early years educational practice.
I cannot tell you how PROUD and bursting with adoration I am for the incredible children we teach and the teachers we have; our inspirational, passionate teachers, who literally pour their hearts, talents, knowledge and love into your children, as if they were their own.
Our wonderfully creative school as a whole is totally committed to fighting tooth and nail to remain staffed, safeguard jobs and be sustainable and solvent, so that we remain standing after this has passed by. But, we, like most, cannot do it without the help and support of as many people working together as possible. And sometimes, ironically that’s going to mean isolating yourself for the greater good.
To those also making brave and hard decisions right now, across sectors and industries....i can tell you that I’ve felt very alone this past week and I want you to know you’re absolutely not doing this on your own. Reach out. Talk. Nothing is ever the end, but it may be a new chapter.
This too will pass.
Many of us are in the same education boat, I’m always here if you just want to talk something through or need a virtual shoulder to release your stress on, or a sounding board or some fresh ideas to keep going in these tough times-full of ‘em! Connect.
Creativity and imagination make anything possible. Solutions can always be found and the sun always, always rises again.