Rainbow Reflections

Reflections on Isolation

I chose to use a rainbow for my reflections as it reminds us of all the key workers who have kept working through this isolation period. The rainbow is outlined with difficulty – the red of anxiety on the very outside and the black of atrocities in the centre.

But in between there are colourful positives and this depicts my overall reflection.

Helen Shakespeare

 

Transcript:

Red is for the anxiety that has encased and outlined this whole pandemic period.

Sometimes it leads the way and other times I can deep-breath-it away.

Red is for other people’s anger; for people that have found their temper explodes more easily.

Anger about the restrictions; about the changes; about the loss of control; about the loss of jobs.

Red is for the anger about not being able to see and hold those we love.

 

Orange is for the deepening of relationships; it’s for true connection.Orange is for the talking on line; on the phone and on the doorstep.

Orange is for the unusual – the unusual blessings;

it’s for all the talking in my head.

Orange is sociable; it’s for the connections – in my home, with my family, with my friends, in work conversations and with strangers.

Orange comes when you mix yellow and red.

 

Yellow is for the sun – we’ve been blessed to see so much of it during lockdown.It’s for the rays of light in dark times.

It’s for the smiles and connections we’ve had to make in the absence of touch.

Yellow is for the moon on clear nights;

it’s for the satellites and shooting stars;

it’s for the beautiful sunrise and sunset in unpolluted skies.

 

Green is for the planet recovering.We may have felt hemmed in and stuck with no planes, or trains and limited travel –

but we’ve helped to clear the air. Green is for nature being able to breathe again.

It’s the calm in the storm.

Green is the colour of the spaces we’ve been grateful for – parks, gardens and outside.

 

Blue is for the things that have made me sad – like families without food;families who have lost their loved ones;

people who have died alone;

people who couldn’t say goodbye;

people who are frail and alone.

Blue is for the increase in depression and it’s the colour of a lack of motivation.

 

Purple is for what I have learnt in isolation.I’ve learnt about the power of deep breathing.

I’ve learnt where I stand; who my friends are and what’s important to me.

I’ve learnt I’m positive, creative, resilient, generous in thought and time.

I love what I’ve learnt.

 

Black is for the killing of George Floyd;it’s for the stabbings –

it’s to remind us that black lives matter.

It’s for domestic violence and abuse;

it’s for the injustice in the world.

Black is for dark times, the colour of a hole;

for times when hope hides.


Creativity and Wellbeing

I believe an act of creativity each day can boost our wellbeing, especially at this time where we are experiencing the difficult feeling of uncertainty. The constant exposure of lockdown related information, news and social media posts is creating high levels of anxiety and worrying thoughts for many, and so I believe we should give ourselves time to play and escape through art and creativity.

64 Million Artists, a non-profit organisation, explore the relationship between creativity, mental health, and wellbeing. They set creative challenges each month and are setting daily challenges throughout May. The challenges are varied, such as, different types of art making, creative writing, collecting themed objects, mindfulness activities, photography and so on. Each challenge is set in collaboration with a partner such as artists, charities, museums, teachers, care homes etc. Choose which challenges to take part in and spend as little or as much time as you like on them before posting your creation on Instagram, Twitter or the Facebook 64 Million Artists group. Use the hashtags #CreateToConnect and #64millionartists. The challenges are great for anyone of any age to connect with others through creativity.

www.64millionartists.com

If you know any young people who are struggling with anxiety and panic, check out ‘Little box of calm’ activity set by YoungMindsUK to help them feel more grounded at this difficult time.

https://youngminds.org.uk/blog/how-to-make-a-self-soothe-box/

Thank you

Lucy Smith

 

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Finding Balance in an Upside Down World

The peak of unrest for school staff and parents – particularly those in the first tranche – came with the muddle of announcements and guidelines last week regarding schools reopening on the first of June. Friends from the category of ‘reception teachers’ and also, ‘parents of 5-year olds’ have inundated me with their fears and distress at the thought of returning before they are ready. The anxious reactions were not confined to the groups most directly involved; it seeped into the thoughts from other educators, partly in sympathy and outrage, but also in anticipation of what’s to come for them.

The peak of unrest for school staff and parents – particularly those in the first tranche – came with the muddle of announcements and guidelines last week regarding schools reopening on the first of June. Friends from the category of ‘reception teachers’ and also, ‘parents of 5-year olds’ have inundated me with their fears and distress at the thought of returning before they are ready. The anxious reactions were not confined to the groups most directly involved; it seeped into the thoughts from other educators, partly in sympathy and outrage, but also in anticipation of what’s to come for them.

There are many highly emotive and political arguments on social media, further fuelled by unhelpful, un-factual newspaper articles. I have been thinking of a way to explain or understand the enormous negative reaction in teachers that involves principles, as opposed to arguing about where the decisions have come from and the basis for them.

There is a principle I try to live by when it comes to wanting ‘happy’ students and a ‘happy’ staff team. It came from a Bucks writing project and it made so much sense to me that I have never forgotten it (and often am known to quote it!). What I can’t remember is who the idea came from so a) thank you and feel free to take credit and b) please know I may have put my own slant on it. It’s one of those triangle pictures where you aim for a balance between three things:
People have a greater chance of happiness and therefore success, when they have three things in equal measure: When they are valued, when they understand what’s happening and when they have an element of choice. In my experience it has acted like a magic formula both in terms of students’ happiness in class and adults’ happiness in leading. Happiness leads to success. And when there’s no success, I start to examine whether or not the ‘unhappy’ person is being valued, has a good understanding of what’s going on and also has some choice. I’ve always wondered why these triangles used to depict the balance between 3 things are produced in 2D… they should be 3D; a triangle lying flat on only one support in the middle. The only way not to tip is to equally balance all 3 elements.

This to me explains so well why teachers are understandably so ‘unhappy’ about the pressure to invite more students back into schools. There has been little or no element of choice. How much more successful would the re-opening be if school staff and leaders could make more choices that would suit their intake, staff, school genre and location? It’s not as simple as teachers disliking ‘being told what to do’, they are used to – and very experienced in – making bespoke choices that take into account a multitude of complex circumstances. We have all read the guidelines for businesses that stipulate some non-negotiables regarding distancing and PPE etc but leave them to make the main decisions, realising that each business will vary. It shows a huge lack of understanding and trust in the profession to be so imperious when it comes to the timing of schools opening.

This leads on to whether or not educators feel valued. I have joined in with the Thursday clapping and know for the NHS it is well-deserved. How much more would it have valued other workers – bus drivers, postal workers, teachers – to be clapping for all key workers who have continued to work since isolation? How rewarding and motivating would it be to read hero-headlines about teachers who not only have had to learn how to nurture and teach on-line, but also have risked their own safety delivering food to vulnerable families? As for understanding – the lack of involvement of the teaching profession in the decisions and the mixed political and economic agenda in which the opening of schools has been caught up in, has led to a huge amount of misunderstanding.

So, to policy and guideline makers I would say if you want happy and therefore a successful return to schools opening… let the profession know they are valued; give these skilled, experienced and articulate people some choice and make sure the reasoning is based on facts and projections such that people really understand.

In the meantime, what can we do about it?

Leaders…try to find ways to value your staff, involve them in choices and work at spotting and rectifying misunderstandings.

Educators…we can learn to value ourselves; to look for what we have control over and where we can have some choice. Finally, we can seek ways to examine and enrich our own understanding.

Helen Shakespeare

 

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Online Meetings - Dos and Dont's

Mental note to self: Learn how to conduct myself in a professional manner whilst on camera and close-up, during an on-line meeting - a blog by Helen Shakespeare.

The first view my meeting participants had of me on their laptops was actually a close-up of my son pressing buttons and slating me (plus profanities) for having the video camera off and the microphone on silent. Unable to download the app on my laptop, I was holding my phone. I hadn’t realised that by swiping I would have been able to see other contributors and so when only the meeting’s host came into view, commenting generously on my make-up, I proceeded to announce to her that I wasn’t fully dressed as I had no bra on. The multiple, formal introductions with others that followed, made me feel uncomfortable, unprofessional and underprepared, not to mention, underclad.

I’d given careful thought to what might be in the background to my shot, particularly since tidying has not made it onto my isolation things to do list. However, within milliseconds, I gave everyone a virtual tour of my house, taking the phone with me to find my charger because the battery was diminishing as I spoke. I could only find the short charger. So, whilst everyone was sitting calmly upright, I was angled unflatteringly and panicking about the aforementioned lack of attire. Another trip to the front room to find the extension lead before I had clearly not learnt to sit still and make minimal movements. Perhaps by then my anxiety had kicked in because I do know how to behave in meetings. For the first time ever, I (a) waved when I wanted to speak and (b) on interrupting someone else, mimicked the speak no evil monkey emoji in a manner that suggested I still hadn’t grasped how on show I was.

I’d like to point out that since then my meeting persona has drastically improved, but it did get me thinking. I’ve compiled a little Ten Top Tips which I have found useful and thought you might too. Please don’t read them and despair, we are all on a learning curve.

 

Do - still send out a clear and well-communicated agenda and follow up with minutes. More than ever in this disconnected time do we need people to feel they can come to a virtual meeting prepared. The follow-up notes avoid people missing details; allow people a window of opportunity to check for understanding and help people like me for whom the main take-aways are what people were wearing or the style of their décor.

Don’t – allow the more confident to dominate or the conversation to digress. Consider some kind of a turn-taking system. Be aware of people less confident and invite their response. Better still, if someone just won’t shut up you can mute them. It’s important we look for the advantages of our new isolation habits.

Do – figure out which button to push to mute yourself. And then remember to un-mute before you make your point. The key to success is to get everyone engaged. Hopefully the meeting leader will ask questions and invite comment.

Don’t – spring surprise documents on people mid-meeting. Send documents out before to allow people to react or think about how they might be able to comment professionally ready for the meeting. We are all used to swallowing expletives and hiding shocked expressions in face-to-face meetings but it’s hard for our ‘home-behaviour’ not to seep into the on-line forum.

Do - prepare your system in advance. Make sure you have tested the system and have the correct link or invite. Check the sound level and have chargers at the ready because charge drains quickly it seems, particularly if you are on a smart phone. And definitely check your cleavage before bending down to plug it in.

Don’t have anything distracting around or behind you. Then when you speak, the message can be heard and understood. Think about the image you want to portray which may include the shelves behind you. You can also find a way in settings to blur the background or drop a photo from your camera roll into the back drop. I was not aware however that the backdrop acts like a ‘green screen’, and appeared as a body-less head in the middle of a Van Gogh painting.

Do – tell people in your household that you will be in a meeting so that no-one joins you on screen. Most people do not find other people’s kids and dogs cute... well maybe the dogs ;)

Don’t – multitask during the meeting. Remain present and be aware of your ‘listening’ body language. Making the contributors feel valued is important, again particularly at this extremely disconnected time. My confidence drained when I saw no-one making eye-contact as I was speaking until I realised it’s only when we look into the web cam that it looks as though we are meeting people’s gaze.

Do – try and sit still - avoid exaggerated gestures. You will make a point more clearly if you minimise your own fidgeting or movements. I already know I have ADHD but I could have sent the meeting video to further confirm my diagnosis.

Don’t Forget – that people are feeling extra disconnected; extra ‘out of the loop’ and extra sensitive in these challenging lockdown times.

Be patient with people and their reactions.

Give people the benefit of the doubt.

Be understanding.

Be kind.

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Back to School

‘Twas the Night before Term – an ode to parents by Helen Shakespeare.

It’s the night before a new term starts and I’m remembering how I used to feel when my two were still in Primary school. As a procrastinator, the final Sunday was fraught with washing and ironing uniform, making packed lunches and discovering the PE kit was missing items that were too late to order. But the relief of dropping them off and knowing it was a temporary end to the frantic and seemingly endless activities that the holiday time contained. Despite being a teacher, I loved that feeling of, ‘over to you...’. In turn, I could have back, that feeling of being pleased to see them after school.

Now parents nationwide are not only having no break from their parenting but during school hours are having to switch from wearing a parent’s hat to a teacher’s for part of everyday. Aside from any teaching skills, it’s terribly confusing for both parties to have to adjust to the same person providing the teaching, the love, the discipline, the comfort, the food and so on. Many parents are also trying to juggle their own work as well as learn a new way of living in isolation with all the angst that brings. The excitement and relief of a new term starting has - this time - during lockdown, given parents a whole new Sunday night feeling.

With this in mind, I want to encourage you all in the great job you are doing:

 

‘Twas the Night before Term – an ode to parents by Helen Shakespeare

 

‘Twas the night before term, when all through the house

Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.

The front doors were closed and the streets were all clear

The bins were all full of wine bottles and beer.

 

The children were playing on Playstations four

The parents on Netflix or Zoom rooms galore.

They all settled in with their daily routine

Protecting the nation from Covid 19.

 

When on their devices arose such a clatter,

They sprang from their chairs to see what was the matter.

Tonight was a Sunday, seen as a jewel

Until lockdown brought dread at the mention of school.

 

Farewell to the freedom and playground goodbyes,

Hello to the hell of the classroom online.

Tasks and assignments for feedback and ticks

And a rousing beginning with athlete Joe Wicks.

 

Some parents proudly announcing new skills

Others reportedly losing the will.

Would they emerge more fat or more fit?

Or had they decided they don’t give a sh*t?

 

Dreading the watchful eyes of the staff

As they take on the role, on their teacher’s behalf.

“How come we never learnt that way at school?

Grid methods, chunking and algebra rules?”

 

How come my child had such glowing reports

When all I get now is disdainful retorts?

Never again will I whinge at the school

When my little angel has broken a rule.

 

Sleepless and anxious to complete all the tasks

While remotely at work or sewing some masks.

Dressing the top half for meetings on line

While forcing the kids to learn as they whine.

 

And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the street

The clapping and cheering and pans with a beat,

As I opened the door to tumultuous exhort

Of NHS staff and key workers support.

 

Among these tough times of self-isolation

We’ve joined as a team, throughout the whole nation.

Sharing and giving not seen since the war

Epitomised in actions from Captain Tom Moore.

 

So, while we dig deep for our strength and true grit,

Dreading the weeks and trying not to quit,

Look for the blessings, be patient, take heart,

You are being amazing and doing your part.

 

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Choose to Feel Safe

A blog on our response to trauma from Helen Shakespeare.

Is anyone feeling tired even though your daily activity load has decreased? It’s most likely a response to trauma. It’s not possible to combat the virus actively (fight), it’s not possible to run away from it (flight), so the body goes into ‘play dead’ (freeze) mode. It’s an avoidance coping strategy. Isolation, together with the nature of the virus, has robbed us of our coping mechanisms. Added to and embedded in this traumatic situation we are facing is the fact that enforced lockdown has robbed us of choice. It’s one thing to choose to stay at home and tend to the house or garden, but quite another to feel it’s obligatory. Systems in the workplace sometimes cheat us of choices, but home is where we are meant to feel autonomy. It is well documented that an increase in freedom boosts morale. It is therefore safe to say that the removal of choice will lower morale. According to self-determination theory (Ryan and Deci), needs for autonomy, competence and relatedness must be met in order to enhance levels of self-motivation. Could this be adding to our feelings of fatigue?

So, faced with this new predicament my brain raced to find any history of coping mechanisms I had previously known. It led me back to a time when my daughter was seriously unwell and it was this connection that led to me creating the ‘SAFE’ resource  in the hope of helping; helping not just teenagers, but staff and parents, grandparents and children.

A few years ago, my daughter was self-isolated. I mean this in the strictest sense; she isolated herself due to mental health issues that were drowning her. She chose to self-isolate; she separated herself from friends; she saw no point in getting up; no point in dressing; in washing or in attending to the most basic self-care needs. I know from some friends that these symptoms are included in the list of things people are battling with at this time of lockdown. The part of recovery that has relevance here, was an activity which required her to plan for just four things in her day. One had to be purposeful; one relating to achievement; one to closeness with someone and one for enjoyment. It was based on neuroscience research and the brain being triggered into the production of chemicals that enhance our well-being; achievement triggers dopamine; purpose, serotonin; connection, oxytocin and exercise or enjoyment, endorphins. Choosing her own daily goals enabled her to feel autonomy and a boost to her morale. Not only did she feel as though she was achieving things of purpose, but her day began to have structure and by recording her chosen activities she could also measure an element of progress. I have adapted this to form a daily planning activity under the apt acronym of SAFE. Exercise is included on account of its raised importance at a time when none of us can go to the gym or park  - our usual places.

The SAFE activity ends with choosing three blessings. Research has shown that being thankful is beneficial to our well-being. At Aspire AP we practice this at our daily de-brief, even after the toughest of days. It takes some discipline to begin with, before a habit is formed. After a while, your brain becomes trained to look for the positives during the day itself.

Tired we may be - out of sorts – but we must be kind to ourselves. Read more about how the brain deals with trauma and use the knowledge to be understanding of how you are feeling. Find a way that suits you to plan in the positive ingredients to nurture yourself, give you purpose and help you to connect with others. Give yourself permission to rest. Despite our locked down situation, we have in fact got a lot of choice.

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Dress to Suppress (the Monotony)

To relish the decadence of spending the days in pyjamas or to get yourself brushed and dressed? Senior Education Psychologist, Jenny Feeney, of Bucks County Council, argues that what we choose to wear is more significant than we might realise.

I hate running. But I consider it a necessary evil as it is free and can fit around my schedule. My first attempts at running came when I was living in Camden. I found running around streets that were populated 24-7 entirely embarrassing… and I gave up quickly. Finally, I decided to buy myself some actual running gear. It seemed strange but the mere act of putting on my running clothes gave me the anonymity I needed. I suddenly felt that people probably didn’t assume I was crazy or wonder why I was running around the streets but assumed that I was in fact a ‘runner’. And I felt, for those 30 minutes twice a week, that just maybe, I was a ‘runner’.

Like it or not, clothes play an important role in our social interactions. Clothes provide our brain with cues to people’s behaviours – think, ‘Oh that man is walking up to the house because he is a postal worker’ versus ‘Why is that man walking up to the house?’ And research shows clothes may even influence our own behaviour. Those who know me at work may have spotted my adherence to this view. They may recognise the range of outfits I wear for different roles; the suited and booted leader outfits for big events; the gender neutral shirt and jacket for working with secondary schools; the softer, brighter jumpers and dresses for primary schools; and the dangly earrings and long skirts for when I just plain need to channel the airy fairy psychologist :). My clothes allow me to project myself into who or what I need to be each day.

And so, even in lockdown I continue to use clothing to help me navigate that ‘groundhog day’ feeling. My full running gear comes out to help me match Joe Wicks’ energy during his daily torture sessions. My work clothes go on to remind my brain that even though I am sitting on my bed, I am in fact at work. And on Saturday nights, myself and my two little girls get our glad rags on… because lockdown or not the Feeney girls enjoy a party at the weekend.

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It’s OK Not To Be OK

A blog by Jenny Murray, CAMHS Link Psychologist for Aspire AP, Bucks.

I had a very irrational response last week to not being able to join a meeting online. Technology. This is a new problem, I cannot blame the traffic! I just couldn’t get it to work and I got really cross...with nobody, because there was nobody to get cross with. The computer said no!

Luckily, humour is never far from my reach and I managed to laugh at myself and then had a lovely conversation with the meeting organiser. I shared my crazy five minutes with her, inviting us both to laugh at me and reflecting that everyone seems a little more sensitive than usual lately. National emergency, life threatening, collective trauma, crisis, disaster, catastrophic loss, uncertainty. These are the messages we are hearing day in, day out.

The overarching message is that we are not safe going about our lives as we were. We have to change everything. We don’t have past experiences to draw upon, to help us to navigate through this, we have never experienced anything like this before. We don’t really understand how things will be in the future, what the time frames are or what ‘normal’ will actually look like in the future.

For now, we are adjusting to a new normal that feels alien and frankly very strange. This situation is impacting on all aspects of our lives. Social media and remote ways of staying connected can be both a blessing and a curse. Sharing humour, positivity and support, connecting communities, supporting the more vulnerable and generally reaching out to each other and doing what we were told we should be doing some weeks ago – being kind.

On the down side there can be an implicit message in all the positivity sharing, that if you are not feeling OK, that is not OK. What concerns me somewhat is that we are hearing not just about threats to our physical health and that of the people we care about, but also to our mental health. I say this cautiously, as I would not want to invalidate people’s experiences of poor mental health or to downplay the potential impact on our wellbeing; but distressing experiences lead to distressing feelings.

It is entirely understandable to feel sad, worried, fearful and uncertain during times of uncertainty and when there is a very real threat that we are constantly reminded of. We are adjusting to something we have no template for. Many of us in the professions we work in are ‘do-ers’ and ‘fixers’. We help people learn and grow and feel better; we nurture and coach. It speaks to our core values. It feels important and meaningful and it feels like this is what we should be doing, because ultimately helping others helps us. So now, many are feeling that they lack purpose they feel guilty and a little lost. We express this in different ways. My daughter (9) asked me on Easter Sunday if I was able to speak to people I knew who were in Heaven. I asked her why and she said she wants to know if it is OK up there. When I go to the shop she calls me after about fifteen minutes, “When will you be back mummy, I miss you”. Fifteen minutes....

We are all in this together but our stories are not the same, so while we adjust and find comfort in collective experiences and connections with others that are either entirely new or are strengthened, we should bear in mind that it is OK not to feel OK. Yes, it is helpful to have a structure to your day, and get exercise, read more, get the jobs done we haven’t done and start that new hobby... this is the real world, some days it is OK not to feel OK, to not give in to the ‘should do’s’ and to ask ourselves, what do I need, just for now? The rule book has been thrown out, we are writing a new one. If ever there was a time to put your own mask on before attending to someone else’s, it is now.

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Legacy

A blog post by Nick Fanshaw, Year 5 Teacher, St Paul’s Chipperfield

What would your legacy be?

Could this crisis offer a unique opportunity to consider how we truly wish to be remembered?

As these turbulent times play out, a shadow from within rears itself to question us; to question our purpose; to question our morality.  If today were your last day – if now was all that you held within your hand… would you be satisfied with who and what you were?  And who and what you’d become?  Would you feel you’d left enough on this blank canvas we all arrived on – so someone else could admire your metaphorical painting in fifty, a hundred or even five hundred years to come?

We are all ants in this labyrinth of life; we are all numbers and statistics.  By nature we like order and clarity – numbers are just that.  Yet I pose the question: are you a prime number, a number below ten or are you four hundred and seventy four thousand, eight hundred and twenty one?  A number you’ve just read but as this line reaches its climax - a number you will not be able to recount.  Herein lies my issue with the society we have become.  We should now feel embarrassed about two things.  Keeping up with the Joneses and taking for granted the pure simplicity in which life should be loved and appreciated.  Like Mary Schmich states in her commencement speech (made famous in Baz Luhrmann’s song), ‘The race is long, and in the end, only with yourself!’

The journey you take is about those moments on the way.  Those moments enable me to forge a legacy in prose and pictures.  I savour those times – the simplicity of what flows in writing and the inspiration that leaves its imprint on me.  A summer breeze or the notes through my headphones on a dark, quiet evening.  That makes me - me!  When you can saviour the freebies of life – then you’re well on the road to fulfilment – well on your way to understanding what your legacy is.

We’ve never had such a sustained period of time for self-reflection. Never have we had to deal with this much introspection because life has become too busy.  Who are you?  What are you about?  What would you say your legacy will be?  I am not immune to soul-searching but I haven’t had to search too far.  It’s given me this transparency – it’s almost cleansing. I feel refreshed and know that, no matter what the next year brings, what I leave behind in the end – whenever the end is – is something that I stood for and something I was proud of.  That’s not to say I’m not worried about my family, friends and children I teach – I really am - but don’t feel guilty at this moment to take stock of you.  I hope this time shapes people, makes people kinder, makes people appreciate life’s minimalism, makes people learn more about what they want from life and how they want to be remembered in years to come.  I hope it also makes everyone do those things they’ve always wanted to do but never tried.  As bleak as times are – there are positives to be gained from this isolation – the self-reflection and questioning could be exactly what you need to prosper in the future.

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Family

An open letter to my Aspire Family by Debra Rutley.

Dear Aspire Family,

That we call ourselves a family is something I love and feel really proud of.

Right now, I’m missing my family.

I’m missing the guaranteed warmth, love and connection that awaits at every school site.

I’m missing your smiles, laughter and even hugs!

I feel the loss that our students must feel without you.

You have been my family for almost 20 years and I don’t say enough how much I appreciate being and working with you all.

Reminiscing, as families do, on our good times, especially the Revival Days at the end of every year brings a smile to my face and makes me laugh out loud. Being silly, not self -conscious and a good sport made these days wonderful memories to cherish. My favourites were the full staff flash dance, singing to Britney, the money wind tunnel and so much laughter with and at each other. We all have favourite memories and stories and we have loads of them.

The big magic moments of team days are not what knits us together. We are connected through the everyday joy and love, the little things we notice and do and our shared values.

You do small things that change lives and show that no matter what, you are still there day after day. Forgiveness is a given, tough conversations can happen, we can make mistakes, we support not judge and we have each other’s backs.

Our students and visitors feel this too. We embody those motivational pictures and carved words that many families aspire to “love lives here”. People see the values in our behaviours and people know where we come from.

When times are tough and challenging for us as a group, individuals or for our families there is guaranteed support, sometimes from an unexpected corner and often from lots of corners.

Right now, we are acting like the whole world is part of our family asking our usual red thread questions:

“What if that was my child?”

“What if that was my sister?”

And as usual we are asking:

“How can I help?”

And we are helping our whole community.

Thank you for being that family people would want to choose.

Debra

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