So the gates to the ‘chocolate factory’ were open, some of the other lucky golden ticket holders were already there and I was greeted by the hosts with the most – Stephen and Sarah. I placed my lovingly made lemon possets in the fridge (what bake off?) and settled into a semi-comfortable chair to get to know some of the other souls that had made their way into this darkest corner of Surrey.
The weekend itself was a triumph of organisation and a celebration of collaboration. The fact that everyone chipped in with the various chores meant that things were done efficiently leaving sufficient time to enjoy some libation in the company of like minded thinkers. And like minded we all were, alike we were not. A real diverse mixture of ages, settings and backgrounds which meant that we were sharing practice relevant to those settings and backgrounds meaning we listened to each other and took from it not only nuggets of ideas but also the understanding of what schooling is like across the country – its differences and similarities.
So where does that leave me? Well t-minus 10 days until my head teacher leaves the building forever (yes, that’s right, granted 2 weeks early to enjoy the sun drenched beaches of Thailand) leaving me to take the reins for the foreseeable future (at least until July). Two weeks during which I will aim to maintain my deputy role, teach my classes, cover the head essentials, coordinate the Christmas Carol service, serve up Christmas dinner for the children, dress up as Santa, as well as organise the leaving do and January training day.
But what an opportunity. The chance to implement my own changes at whole school level where I have the final say. I’ve made changes before and have been supported through them by previous head teachers – but now there’s no one to pull me back at the last minute… that’s worrying. What if I mess up? What if we have a huge disaster? I’ve got so many unanswered questions barrelling through my mind it’s hard to focus on the ‘now’, not the ‘what if’.
So SLTcamp enabled me to reassure myself that I do know what i’m talking about (a bit) and that no one in their right mind would give you control of a school if they didn’t think you were capable of leading it. But I guess that’s just where, as teachers, we sometimes have those feelings of insecurity, those feelings of being a fraud, being found out that we don’t know as much as the next person whose been doing it longer. However there lies the key – experience. Experience is what you make of it. For me there is no replacement for it although how do you get it without doing a job?
SLTcamp also ticked lots of boxes for me about things I might like to build upon at my school or consider implementing. I like Dave Brailsford’s ‘aggregation of marginal gains’ – in that if every member of staff could tweak one or two elements of their existing practice then that could make the extra ‘magic’ that would push us forward collectively for the benefit of the children and their futures.
So, to end, I will continue being the (novice) Twitter guy on my staff and will continue to eulogise about the benefits and enlightenment that can be found in the palm of your hand. I will promote the use of PLNs and as proof will hold up SLTcamp as a window to the future of CPD.