Monday, 29 August 2016

The five stages of post-results intoxication

Last year, I wrote a post about ‘The five stages of post-results grief’ that I went through in the subsequent days and weeks after results day.

This year, I am pleased to say, that the number crunching wasn’t accompanied by the overwrought sobs of the year before, but I have been surprised to still find myself experiencing the proverbial rollercoaster of emotions which leads me to this post: ‘The five stages of post-results intoxication’.

Feeling good
It is the morning of results day, the headlines are in and, for once, it becomes apparent that it’s good news.

You shout to your husband, text your parents, and tell your (bemused) cats. Together they breathe a collective sigh of relief that they won’t be scraping you up off the floor, this year at least.

In the shower, you allow yourself a wry smile for the students who have fallen on the right side of the grade boundaries for once. You chuckle as you dry yourself knowing that this year when the school’s headline measures are flashed up for all to see in the first school meeting back you won’t be staring at the worn-out carpet. You wonder 'Is a jaunty finger click and wink to the Assistant Head taking it a bit too far…?'

Rifling through your wardrobe, you take out your new shirt despite it really being ‘Parent’s evening best’.

In the car, driving in, you sing loudly to Adele. You hate Adele.

When you finally sit around the computer screen with others and see the forecast impact of your department's results on whole school measures there are actual high fives. Together you glimpse a very different potential outcome of the upcoming Ofsted visit to the one that has been stalking your collective nightmares.

Individual subject results may be a ripple in the pool of school life, but in English and Maths they have the potential to be a crashing wave. Most English Heads of Faculty are all too aware of this and when a set of results impacts positively on colleagues and friends it can feel like you’re finally swimming with the tide rather than thrashing against turbulent waters as it’s often felt in the last few years.

We might all strive to be radiators but a set of half decent results lights a bonfire; there is a re-ignition of the belief that effort can equal outcome. There is justice in the world after all!

Bad decisions/Talking loudly
Thus the excitement felt by you for your colleagues, students, and school leads to the desire to SHARE THE NEWS WITH THE WORLD.

You want parents to know - immediately - see just how awesome this news is. Students need to know how proud they can feel of their school and their achievements. You want other teachers to know that your school isn’t what you’ll find on Data Dashboard when you whack the name into Google. Sod it, if a future Inspector catches an eyeful what harm could it do?!

So, you tweet your results: not the actual statistics, mind you, just the upward swing. You have rash conversations with colleagues and other HoDs via text. You offer advice and write brash declarations about the cause of the department’s success, condensing a year’s worth of strategy and effort into a series of reductive messages. You remember how you felt a year ago, but decide 'I would be pleased for me too'.

Paranoia and depression
But as is always the case, what must goes up must… Celebratory glass of wine in hand, you read Chris Curtis’ brilliant blog post astutely comparing the trumpeting of results to an educational willy measuring contest. You think he’s writing about you.

Chastened, you compare the results of your Faculty with others within your school, within your local authority, within your subject.

Bottle of wine now empty, you look again at your headlines and acknowledge you’re still not where you want to be. Not by a long shot. You dig a bit deeper and realise your most able kids have bombed their usually strongest unit, the Poetry exam. A clutch of As and A*s are M.I.A.

You think about the student in your own class who didn’t make it. The one who came to the revision sessions after school and in the holidays. The one who you knew was at risk of not quite getting there but who on sheer bloody determination alone deserved to succeed. You read back your tweets and feel that your excitement has somehow let him down. You have let him down.

You realise the hard work starts again in a week’s time. You’ve still got that scheme of work to write, lessons to plan, and a new job to settle into.

The Hangover
You crash down to earth with a bump, a dry mouth, and sense of impending doom that even paracetamol won't shift. 

But, unlike last year, it’s a soft landing.

The flicker of potential lit by our positive results will buoy us up against the groundswell of current that has the potential to take us under once more. I’m not complacent. We’re not complacent. We’re not there yet. If any school does in fact ever get ‘there’.

Much like the selfies in your phone the 'morning after the night before', I may cringe at my garish tweets from results day, but in a year's time I'll enjoy seeing them in TimeHop as a record of when much-loved school succeeded when it feels like success is so often in short supply. 

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