Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Christmas miracles

I had some of the most wonderful moments of my career so far this afternoon.  Thought I'd share.  As we are such a very little school I am always conscious of not writing in a way that might identify a pupil.  Therefore I will refer to 'the child' rather than gender specific terms.  This might make things read a little oddly at first but is important.

It was our Christmas carol service this afternoon.  One of my favourite occasions of the school year as our whole school family and the community come together to sing and celebrate.  I always open it with a very short poem, usually one I have found about half an hour before and this year was no exception!  I then hand over to the children as it's all about them.

The first brilliant moment came early on, during Silent Night.  Two new children, who were too nervous to even stand up in last week's nativity, not only stood up with their class but sang too.  One child had hands over face but I could see the little jaw moving so there was definitely singing going on.  That was a massive step forward in a week. 

I then saw one of the best bits of positive behaviour management I have ever seen in my life from one of my staff.  We have a child who sometimes becomes very angry, the child isn't able to express feelings in words very well and tends to express with violent actions and curses.  Fortunately it happened during a carol so no one could hear the swearing!  The member of staff got right down to the child's level and quietly and calmly reminded the child to use words to explain the feelings of anger.  The member of staff then supported the child to do so and the whole situation was positively resolved before we even finished Calypso Carol.  No one other than the staff even noticed the blip.

The next brilliant moment came when another new child, who has come from some tough circumstance and changed school in a crucial year, stood up and sang too.  There was an obvious pride in the singing and I glowed with that pride too.  The same child had also been chosen to do a reading.  This is where I glow with pride for my staff too as the brilliant class teacher had taken calculated risk taking to it's limit here!  This was the first time, ever in the child's school life, that this child had ever been chosen to stand up and read.  At anything.  Thinking that one through a little further there have probably been many occasions where that child has seen others chosen and not been trusted to read.  I can understand why.  At an occasion so public the idea that nerves, pressure and a number of other factors might make a child suddenly shout or swear or both is a pressure on staff.  But my staff know that the sense of achievement and pride for that child when they manage it is worth every bit of that pressure.  The child did stand up and manage it, and very well indeed.  The sense of accomplishment and pride from the child, and the family, were obvious. 

When we are taking on a difficult to place child there is always a pressure because of the impact on results.  We have very small cohorts and floor targets are the same for us as they are for everyone.  I can understand the fact that some headteachers worry about taking these children on but that will never be a consideration for me, nor my staff when we are thinking about taking on a child.  Safety and the impact on learning for other children sometimes are, but never results.  Headteachers that avoid that impact on results though, will also miss out on that feeling I had this afternoon.  Knowing that your ethos and staff have created an opportunity and feeling of pride for a child where it hasn't been there before.  Knowing that child may well remember that feeling for years, maybe for ever. 

Happy Christmas.