Great Expectations and Blank Pages!
We are coming to the end of the long summer holidays and for many parents, children and people in the education sector, it is a time of new beginnings. This is the time of the blank piece of paper.
Sometimes during my first assembly of the year I would mention blank pieces of paper. I would show the children the series starting with the large piece which represented the forthcoming year, then a smaller one for the term & so on through the week and separate days. I explained that the paper represented opportunities and encouraged the children to fill them with as many positives as possible.
Although I no longer have to lead assemblies, from my slightly removed position, I am still seeing blank pages. There have been tweets and blogs from teachers describing their newly prepared classrooms and requests for help with new schemes of work. Senior managers have been posting about planning in-set days and setting up the various calendars. Another group are parents, many of them sharing their nerves as their little ones finally go to ‘big school’. For some, they see it as the end of one of their most important roles when they will no longer be the sole adult their children interact with each day.
Each of these communities has blank pages and many are writing their aspirations and expectations on them. Hopefully, all the aspirations will be high. We’re dealing with children’s lives for goodness sake so they blooming well should be! However, having been there, I want to offer a word of caution.
For all the groups mentioned, life in different forms will come into each of their equations. For teachers, it may be classroom disruption or a difficult parent. For senior leaders it may be the Governing Body or the Local authority. Her Majesty’s Government may throw a few curve-balls. Parents may come to this new school year with high hopes only to find their child does not settle either at school or with the new teacher. So, how does this match up with high aspirations?
The answer lies in managed expectations. Don’t worry – it’s not as ‘medical’ as it sounds! Sometimes, aspirations and expectations become mixed. Your aspirations are high, one of those unexpected happenings comes along so you miss out and you are then disappointed. The disappointment and feeling of failure can then have a major impact on the rest of the year.
The management of expectations is about controlling what you assume is going to happen against what you hope will happen. It is about being flexible with events as they happen whilst still trying to push those boundaries with high aspirations.
As supporters of Gillingham Football Club, we are used to ‘hoping for the best but preparing for the worst’! Luckily, the successes that most of you will achieve this year will far outweigh anything the Gills will produce but the phrase serves as a good illustration!
So… what are your aspirations and what may you have to contend with that may slant them slightly differently?
Images courtesy of Google