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In the little things we define ourselves

11th January 2021

The FA Cup 3rd round is annually scheduled for the second weekend in January. For those non-football obsessives, this is when the so-called little teams can get drawn in the cup to play the big teams. This weekend saw the ‘biggest gap’ in terms of league places between Marine FC and Tottenham Hotspur for a cup tie since many years ago.

2TeamsThe reality is that however many worlds away these two clubs are in terms of wages, finances and supporters they are still football clubs. They still play on the same pitch, with the same number of players and by the same rules.

At these difficult times for education, I think there are some lessons to be learnt for us. It is in the little things that we define ourselves. We may have moved lessons online and away from the classroom in many cases, but it is still in the power of explanation, the connection between staff and student, the kind word and warm smile that makes the difference. The time spent in preparation still pays off. Thinking about how our children need learning to be phrased, packaged, time managed and revealed all remains. How we connect with parents, communicate to staff, prepare facilities, food and finances all still count – now perhaps more than ever.

Even though it may feel that the whole world has changed, in some regards the myriad of interactions, connections and considerations (the little things) that power school communities remain as vital and as present as ever. True, how we demonstrate this has changed. The cuppa made for your office colleague, or the boost chocolate bar left on the desk of someone whose yesterday wasn’t as good as it could have been, now have to be delivered differently. A simple email of support, a shared learning resource, or a personalised comment given in feedback – these all still have the power they always did.

Just because our big things seem different, our terms ever changing and the mechanisms of life shifting in ways that make us uncertain (and they do make ourselves and our children uncertain), it does not mean we cannot ground them in the little things. It is these that define our profession.

While Marine lost (predictably to Spurs), it did remind us that it is the little things that drive us onwards and keep us going.  Keep going until the big things emerge into more usual focus … and share a few sustaining little things this week.

Jack Mayhew, Executive Headteacher  Athena Schools Trust

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