Success is often stolen and failure is never taken … Being an honourable magpie

We all like to think of ourselves as creative beings and occasionally marvel at our strokes of genius but more and more I see teachers stealing good ideas…it’s not a crime to take an idea from someone else but I feel it is if you claim the idea is yours. 

So before I begin…I’ve got my hands up!

Even the term magpie in education came from @amandasalt. She is one of my oldest Twitter friends and an excellent ideas person. You can read her blog here

Developing a staff of magpies

As a school leader, I want my staff exposed to outstanding practice. I want them to seize ideas and make them work in our school for the betterment of the children. I want them to be magpies but the honourable kind. 

Social Media Magpies

As I developed my sanctuary of borrowed ideas, I have been keen to promote the use of Pinterest, Instagram and twitter as a platform to get good ideas for developing our practice. 

I have gained a fantastic supportive network through Twitter over the past seven years and benefitted immensely from fabulous educational chats that happen every week. There are thousands of ideas shared on chats such as #primaryrocks #edchatie #niedchat or #kinderchat that can develop teachers creativity. More recently, I have connected with #womened and as a result will share at their first unconference in London this October.

Literature based magpies

I really like how @ukedchat and @tes magazine publishes inspirational goings on throughout our nations classrooms. It is very rare I don’t download a copy and don’t amend my thinking or practice.

There are a number of education blogs I like to read too. Mostly I read those authored by books I’ve read but I do love a genuine teacher practitioner blog. Without my friend, Kierna Corr, I would never have felt confident to publish a blog myself.  The use of staffrm is especially designed for teachers to blog for an audience of educators. It is an ideal platform for new bloggers to share their practice or to discover new ideas.

I like many others love a good read…some you may have heard of my top shelf books…on pedagogy. I have learned so much from people who have published their ideas. I highlight, note take and generally absorb their advice to make me (hopefully) a better school leader. 

Socialised Magpies

At teachmeets, edcamp and other educational conferences, we can hear and be inspired by others. Everytime I’ve attended one of these events I’ve always gained new knowledge to make me a better school leader or practitioner. 

I love having the opportunity to visit other schools where I can gain inspiration and see different ideas developed in context. 

I happily hold my hands up to say that many of my best lessons and wall displays have been inspired by the creativity of others. 

Our #toastandtechnology sessions are still continuing this term as a way for teacher to share and gain ideas from their colleagues. 

Dangerous magpies

In a sense I am fully encouraging my staff to be magpies… But … Some teacher magpies can cause trouble…

Stealing ideas pretending they are originally yours or piggy backing on others success is not good it can cause much bad feeling amongst staff and professional networks. 

In fact it makes me sad that some people attempt to take other peoples success. Be honest about where things come from. The likelihood is if you are inspired you may even make their idea better by trying it and refining it. 

Gracious Magpies

We should be professional celebrate the knowledge, creativity and hard work others have put into something. 

When educators share – respect they do it for the greater good of the children and young people. 

When people inspire you to do better -let them know. 

When you hear an idea that’s good – attribute it to the creator. 

Be an honourable magpie! 

Thanks @amandasalt for your permission to steal your idea! I hope I’ve honoured it! 

Count your blessings… Living your school values

This past week has been very emotionally tough for me as a school leader. I’ve realised much about myself, the community I serve and the world I live in. 

When thinking about our school values with my new staff and pupils last April, compassion was something that kept coming to the fore. This week, on a daily basis I found myself thinking about how compassionate am I? Do I really live this value? Am I a compassionate leader? 

Seeing the images a few nights ago of a child washed up on beach reminded me that I am a citizen of the world, who is allowing this to happen. I have a responsibility to act on their behalf for this injustice. I have three kids and I’ve struggled with how to show my compassion in a practical way. 

Several organisations have offered ways to help and I’ve followed their guidance. 

So this weekend, I’ve donated to Tearfund, signed a petition, wrote a letter and tomorrow I will gather up some things to take to a drop of point. I am by no means a self righteous person but I hope that it will ease my frustration that I am doing something to help my fellow man. 

Compassion can come in many forms as we care, empathise and sympathise with others.

In school, I have tried to show compassion on so many levels this week as I listened to the life stories of my pupils, parents and staff.

It has been heartbreaking to hear the real life trials and tribulations that some of them face. From parents with life threatening illnesses, to a staff member losing a loved one, to a family arriving afraid that they are going to be deported. 

As I’ve listened to them, looked into their eyes and saw pain – that I know, I have yet to fully experience, I realised that school values go beyond the plaque on the wall. They very much become ingrained on your heart. 

Being a compassionate leader is challenging at times. It’s been hard to leave the issues in the school office but it has been a wake up call to me to be thankful. I am healthy, I have a loving family, a job and a home. I am very fortunate. 
As I go forward, I hope that my school community can see this value in me and I hope, I encourage others to invoke it within themselves too. 

As you journey through this weekend be compassionate and count your blessings. We really have a lot to be thankful for. 

I’ve included a few links should you wish you do anything to help the refugee crisis. – this charity works with local partners in many of the areas highlighted on the news. I know many others do too but this is one close to my heart. – Belfast live has highlighted a number of places to drop items for those in crisis.