WomenEd Blogs

Why Create a #WomenEd Network?

by Jess Gosling @JessGosling2

To write this blog, I scrolled through the MANY messages between myself and my #WomenEdTW team (Taiwan), which officially began on 12th August 2021. These messages brought back wonderful memories; particularly of organising events I could never have envisioned being part of.

Before setting up this group, I had contacted these two friends to co-create our country strand. Both women were strong, intelligent, and empathetic people. They wanted to bring about change in our locality and were inspired by the #WomenEd vision I had shared with them.

I discovered #WomenEd through Twitter. 

Scrolling through education posts, I could see the level of support and kindness portrayed by amazing individuals connected with #WomenEd. I attended an event hosted by #WomenEd Thailand and was hooked. #WomenEd stood out to me: individuals who were prepared to offer their own time and expertise to empower others. The webinars allowed me to see what excellent leaders looked like. 

Upon reflection, I now realise women have always grounded me, supported me, and created a circle of trust and belonging.

This level of connection had been hard to create in Taiwan. I returned to work after maternity leave and I was angry. Angry to be away from my child and struggling with the demands and pressures with no control over my schedule. I juggled starting a new job and trying to look after my daughter. I tried to be professional but also I needed to care for my four-year-old directly before and after school, struggling to keep her occupied in meetings and as I worked. I felt like a 'bad mum' and substandard as a teacher. I was wracked with guilt always.

I kept my feelings well hidden, trying to show that I was on top of everything. But I was broken. A female leader noticed this, and took me aside, seeing through my mask. She told me it was obvious that I was a wonderful teacher but I needed to pace myself and be kinder to myself. She may well have saved me from a breakdown. I couldn't believe someone had seen this and I am forever grateful for her amazing level of empathy. But I wasn't 'healed' and it took me a long time to get back on track to caring for myself.

I was also heartbroken as I deeply missed the communities I had built in Vietnam. I had a 'mummy' group, a 'working' group of parents, and a wonderful circle of close friends. These women had lifted me, consistently loving me for who I was. I had started a business in Vietnam hence connecting with the 'work' group of parents, who observed me teach their children in every session. I was told I had a gift.

So, what has stepping up and creating #WomenEdTW done for me? 

Well, it gave me that group of comrades again, kind women both on social media and personally that love me for who I am. Sadly, it took me three years to start #WomenEdTW, but I was not aware such an amazing organization existed. Professionally, it gave me the confidence to return to leadership after a long break, as I know now I am stronger and more confident in my abilities. I know if I ever struggle in this area, I will have the advice of many voices to rely on, as was afforded me when I asked for interview tips.

Furthermore, #WomenEd gave me the platform to present CPD and conferences, which my new school noticed on my CV and requested I lead. I would never have known this was something I was capable of.

On a final note, through observing and connecting with amazing leaders, I know now how I must lead moving forward. 

#WomenEd has given me the strength to question. 

I was brought up not to question, and I did not feel I had the right to ever question. On several occasions in my teaching career, I have been crushed under controlling, toxic leadership. 

I will no longer sit back and allow it. Instead, I will do all I can to make it right.

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Sunday, 29 January 2023

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