‘I think if you do something and it turns out pretty good, then you should go do something else wonderful, not dwell on it for too long. Just figure out what’s next.’ Steve Jobs, 2006

I recall sitting with the most fabulous careers advisor at Gateshead College in 2009, working through my application form for the PGCE and worrying whether I was taking the right next step. He said: ‘It is just that. The next step. Ok, it might feel like a leap but it doesn’t have to be a step into forever, it’s just a step into the next part of your journey.’ This, for someone who is a professional worrier was the most reassuring thing I could have heard at that moment in time. I’ve figured out what’s next and this week saw me take my next step. It feels like a leap but one that’s dwarfed by the leap I took when I moved to Reading on my own.

I ended up at Reading College as a result of my incredibly bad sense of direction and knowledge of geography. After 18 months of paying extortionate rent on my own and then 2 years commuting approximately 150 miles a day (not including when there was the flooding…and then the landslide), I felt that my time there was well and truly done.

All my thank yous have now been given and received…This video from some really awesome people was emotional to say the very least:

…and so the business of reflecting on what I learned took place. I’ve learnt great lessons about leadership that I’ll never forget:

  • I’ve learnt what it looks like to lead with emotional intelligence.
  • I’ve appreciated the importance of leading with empathy and humility in equal doses.
  • I’ve seen how vital it is to know every member of staff as an individual so that you know exactly when to challenge, when to support and when to give space.
  • I’ve experienced how staff can be empowered, inspired, encouraged to take risks and how to use Paul Hollywood-esque feedback in just the right ways.
  • I’ve learned that creativity is contagious!
  • From my coach, I learned a great many lessons that will remain with me for life, the overriding one being that weekends exist!

I feel so immensely privileged to have lead Pass It On’s journey from the start until this point and my time at Reading could not have ended on a better note with the college winning the AoC Beacon Award for professional development. And therein lies my final lesson: hard-work does eventually pay off.

My next step has begun this week and in usual Hannah style I have thrown myself into all opportunities possible, including an evening mentor training session with Sheffield Hallam on day 2 (I’m never one to turn down CPD- especially when it’s free!)

I have been impressed by: how they managed to set-up access to my systems, Google account and WiFi well short of the timescale I had learnt to expect from technology in FE.

I have been surprised by: the fact that my office is surrounded by animals- mainly dogs- which is good and bad in almost equal measure. I want one and therefore they could perhaps give me my fix…or they might make me want one even more…only time will tell!

I have been excited by: meeting fabulous Sheffield College staff where the foundations have been laid for exciting future projects.

I have been disappointed by: My endless capacity for getting lost.

  • Day 1: Taking a tour of the whole of Sheffield City Centre in my search for a coat (I’d managed to leave mine in the old flat)
  • Day 2: Getting off the bus on the way home too early (although the bus driver is to blame for this as he nodded that I had the correct location)
  • Day 3: Taking the tram too far, having to get off and come back again
  • Day 4: Getting disoriented on my way to a meeting, which meant arriving late to a meeting one should really not be late too (especially in their first week)- a whole host of managers were there along with the deputy principal and principal- oops!
  • Day 5: Getting lost on the way into work having walked from a friend’s house- minor detours only though!

My targets for next week are to get to know even more staff and to get lost just 3 out of the 5 days!

There are many challenges ahead and my next step is to decide what our top priority is and what our first subsequent actions will be. Whatever this ends up looking like, I will aim to have the following things in mind:

  • We won’t do it unless it has measurable impact
  • We won’t try to do it all at once but focus on key, achievable goals
  • We won’t lose sight of why: influencing learners’ success
  • We will use staff’s starting points, skills and experiences to inform whatever CPD we facilitate; making it meaningful and worthwhile

‘The secret of getting ahead is getting started. The secret to getting started is breaking your complex overwhelming tasks into small manageable tasks and then starting on the first one.’ Mark Twain, Date Unknown

This will be my focus in the coming days but for now, I am comforted by how I felt upon return to my old flat this weekend: it doesn’t feel like home anymore. I am ready for my next steps and leaps with The Sheffield College and all that the north has to offer again.

I guess that walking past this every morning has certainly helped:

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‘Av a reyt good day!
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