by Christina Watson @cmw_kendal
In January 2019 I moved 9000 miles to the unique and beautiful Falkland Islands to be a Deputy Headteacher and, after deciding I could be 10%braver, I became Principal of the small secondary school in September 2020.
The Falkland Islands are a vibrant place but we are remote and need to make a conscious effort to be outward facing: Twitter and online articles are a source of information, inspiration and advice for teachers here. Throughout the last year @WomenEd has encouraged and uplifted me so when I wondered aloud if we should set up a network here the response was a resounding - “Hell yeah!”. The amazing Jules Darby could not have been more helpful as we wind our way to building our first proper network.
WomenEd is all about the impact and its impact on me has been key in helping me stay true to my values. A session @ResearchEd Rome led by Rosanna Raimato of @WomenEdItalia reminded me that leadership is not a hierarchical concept and is actually about having impact and influence. This has become a defining concept that my leadership team and I come back to on a daily basis.
#PledgeForChange20 saw @naomi7444 and @TitchyDitch challenged me to be clearer about my boundaries and reminded meto keep working on those gremlins.
When I was preparing to give a speech at the Commonwealth Women’s Conference held in Stanley in February a Saturday afternoon tweet asking about information about the education of girls and the status on women in a Commonwealth context brought a wealth of information. I was very proud to speak at the conference in front of a picture of the #WomenEd 8Cs; to use examples from 10%braver: Inspiring Women to Lead in Education and to confirm that women want to “break the mould and create a female shaped space in which we lead.”
I was lucky enough to be in London recruiting at the same time as @WomenEdLondon’s International Women's Day 2020 event. It was a day full of wisdom, warmth, courage and challenge. I will do my very best to do it justice.
I’m not sure how the Framework for Ethical Leadership in education had passed me by but it had. The framework summarised with the sentence - “Accountability is not enough: we have to do good” – is such a tonic. I am using the framework for ethical leadership with my leadership team this week to remind us that we have wisdom, kindness, courage and optimism in spades.
Penny Rabinger’s Session on Leading Differently helped me pull together a tangle of thoughts. Acknowledging that we lead in a context and that it is essential to ensure institutional knowledge is preserved resonated for me in my island setting where staff turnover is high.
The #LeadMeet was like a delicious array of ideas and my mind raced and my hand hurt as I rushed to write down the books that inspire Sandeep and Shrehan’s thoughts about PE.
When Sarah said “Find a school where you are celebrated not tolerated”, if I wasn’t Northern Irish, I would have whooped.
I was intrigued by Holly’s description of what is done in Sweden to create gender equality. Yamina declared, 'find your tribe and you will thrive'. I certainly felt that I had found mine.
The afternoon session with Chris Reddy reminded us that communication is an art not a science but if dialogues are the key to effective leadership then taking time to remember that people have different ways of being and communicating is key. More research to be done on DiSC!
By the end of the day I was exhausted but happy. As I made my way back to Falkland House by St James I wandered past Milicent Fawcett’s statue: “Courage calls to courage everywhere and its voice cannot be denied” and thought @WomenEdLondon did just that.