Updated: Aug 28, 2020
Quite some time ago, I launched a business. In the absence of a better idea, and in possession of a tattoo that reads 'be brave', I called the business Brave Teaching. Some other valorous folks had bagsied Brave Teaching domain names, but brave teacher's club was available and the name stuck. @braveteaching was free on Twitter too, which was lucky, and so that is who I am, on Twitter at least.
Time has moved on and the work I do is now much more about education in the round rather than just teaching, so the the business has changed names to match and is now Brave Education Ltd. But you already knew that because this blog lives on BraveEducation.uk. So why am I returning to a prequel business name? This blog has been forming over the last week and the notion of brave teachers clubbing together seems to be relevant.
The brave part of the business has not gone anywhere, and I'm feeling very happy that it hasn't. We've toyed with going nice and corporate, with a nice safe name as many of our clients are schools and organisations who might not be very adventurous in their purchasing decisions. We've gone even bolder and played with punk, mainly because the @BrewDogJames' Business for Punks seems to have inspired most of what we do, but brave sits nicely somewhere in between.
The brave teachers haven't gone anywhere though, and the last fortnight has thrown a spotlight on precisely why and how teachers are brave. Lockdown has been the biggest challenge in my professional life, and this is probably true for most teachers. COVID-19 deprived us of our place of work, and more than that, it took away most of the tools of our trade. Although teachers across the world have kept up a form of education online, and have been there in person for vulnerable children and the children of key workers, the biggest weapon in our arsenal; the relationships with the pupils, was mothballed. Despite this, the pupils receiving examination results in the last fortnight still see teachers as pivotal to their achievements.
One pupil, who got her A level results in a school that serves a disadvantaged community, summed up the bravery of teachers as making her feel like all the Disney princesses at once:
She felt like Rapunzel as her results release her from the loneliness of the expectations of home; like Moana as her achievements have enabled her to take on the world and create her own future and like Cinderella as the work that the teachers and senior leaders put in on results day meant she could go to the ball of university. Maybe that makes teachers more like fairy godmothers than superheroes, and maybe the situation around results this year should not have happened, but every good story needs a villain, and the fact that the villain in this story bears a striking resemblance to Ursula in the Little Mermaid has not escaped my notice.
So teachers are brave, and professional, and certainly achieve heroic things for young people, but how often do we feel like we belong to a club? The Chartered College for Teaching is going some way towards bringing a sense of collegiality to the profession, and there are many grass roots organisations who help bring us together, so Brave Education has no need to be a club. Instead we will be focussing on providing super hero tools to help teachers do what they do best. A bit like Q in James Bond. Stand by for a series of blogs about Bond characters.