I am starting the holiday break with some reading. In fact, I have taken some time out lately to do more reading, sitting in the sun (yes it is sunny in Wirral!) and blocking off a day here and there for myself. To read or not to read on that day off is the question. I have some report writing to catch up on too….
Some of us have shared our thoughts about our books and a Twitter account has been set up by a governor colleague for sharing (@UKgovsread if you are interested in the eclectic mix of reading matter). I confess to having made a couple of book purchases in the last couple of weeks based on some recommendations.
The thoughtful sharing of reading matter within the group often draws us to a genre that we have not considered previously in our ‘usual’ purchases. Sometimes I have been disappointed and have not seen what enthuses a colleague when they make a recommendation. Sometimes I am really pleased to discover a new author.
The same is true of governance. Thoughtful and balanced views can be expressed which challenge our thinking. Do I do that? Is that a great idea I can use? Does that article I have just read need to be shared with my colleagues? Will that change my practice? Will this lead me to add some pertinent questions to my purposeful visits to my schools?
Reviews of governance that I complete with governing boards also challenge my thinking. Am I being too dogmatic in my approach? Do I know enough from working in a variety of settings to be able to advise in a particular situation? We need that thoughtful sharing of experiences we have gained to be able to share nicely and not destroy what confidence that struggling board had left in the process.
Does that chair need a lot of support? Do we encourage them and find those things that they do so well before we try to sharpen their practice? Do I know enough? Am I actually the best person to help them or do they need someone else with a different set of skills?
Often, on social media, we see a lot of governors and, indeed, headteachers who are looking for some advice and guidance in particular situations which are obviously challenging. We see the dogma brigade launch forth with a critical eye and a view. Is there always that voice of support and reason in response? I am not sure that there is. Is the space there sufficient to describe your challenge? I am not sure that there is. Do those who respond have the range of experience to support, and challenge? I am not sure that there is.
So, let’s share nicely. Let’s recognise that an issue is a huge issue for someone and that that someone is looking for support. Let’s be measured in response. Let’s have less dogma. Let’s talk away from public view with those we respect.
Meanwhile, I will share that my current reading is ‘Eleanor Oliphant is completely fine’ which is not my usual genre but has been nicely shared by a friend. I love it!