The summer can often be a time for reflection. This might not be a year to want to reflect on. It’s been very, very hard. It seems to have rolled on from the last academic year without much of a break, certainly mentally, anyway.
I think it is really important that we do reflect though, but not on Covid. There will be a time for that. I think we need to reflect on what each and every person has managed to achieve this year. The empty praise and thanks from the DFE mean nothing, the people at the top of that organisation have no idea what life has been like in schools and what it has taken to get through this year. To be honest, recognition from there is meaningless – we need to recognise what each of us has achieved personally and as a collective profession. It’s easy to look back over this year and feel down. Like maybe we didn’t accomplish everything we should have done. But that is just rubbish. I would argue we have achieved far more than in a normal year.
Think back to September. There were reopening plans everywhere, and no one really knew what to expect. Think about what you managed in just that first month though:
- You brought a community back together
- You made children want to be in school again.
- You reassured those who were feeling anxious.
- You assessed to work out what was needed going forward.
- You made them laugh and smile again.
- You have gave them the confidence they weren’t a lost generation.
- You kept them safe.
- You taught them how to be together as a group again.
You did all of those things, in just one month. How incredible is that? Even if we stopped there, that is enough to be proud of for a whole year. But we didn’t stop there. We nursed them through another school closure. And do you know what? We did it better than we did it the first time too. I bet almost every school upped their game with regards to online learning between last year and this one. Again though, it doesn’t stop there. You managed to do those things with significantly more children in school this time. It meant find a new way of working all over again, but you did it.
Then, when we came back, you did everything that you did in September all over again. Relentlessly working to help the children you work with and care for to minimise their disruption. Don’t listen to the media, the government or anyone else who tells you otherwise. Don’t listen to the voice inside you screaming that you haven’t achieved much this year.
Progress this year was different. So what if you didn’t improve your plenaries? So what if you didn’t achieve everything on a development plan? So what if you didn’t meet that appraisal target that all children had to pass a phonics test. Those things were arbitrary this year, they were meaningless once the year panned out as it did. Don’t even begin to think that because you didn’t tick everything off on someone else’s list you did achieve anything. You achieved more this year than in any year that has gone before.
So when you reflect, don’t undersell yourself. Don’t trap yourself into thinking you didn’t do enough. You gave the children exactly what they needed to get them through another incredibly tough year. If that doesn’t match what you think of as success in a normal year, then it doesn’t matter, because this wasn’t a normal year.
This summer is a time for pride, it’s a time for confidence, it’s a time to reflect on the wonderful things you did for your school community.
A lot of those things aren’t measurable or tangible.
A lot of the time the most important things aren’t.
You did just fine. Now rest.