What is success? by @joeo79

“Success is not final, failure is not fatal.

It is the courage to continue that counts.”

               –  Winston Churchill

Success in education is simple to measure. Do tests, get an age-expected grade and you can relax. Blog over…

Except…..some children struggle. They struggle with behaviour, academic, social and emotional skills. Some children may not get classed as “age expected”. Is this failure? Is this fatal? Can they have success?

The thing I love about my work is the power to lay foundations for success. I am not scared to say teachers have this power. We should embrace it, acknowledge it and apply it.

This is a re-blog post originally posted by Joe O’Reilly and published with kind permission.

The original post can be found here.

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I was once asked by a commissioner what made a young persons drug service successful. My response was simple. No data or stats needed: “If a child feels secure and trusting in the system that they can engage when they are ready to.” I still believe this. I still build relationships with my pupils that will encourage some self-reflection and contemplation of change or adaption. (I must stress the adoption aspect as I include this in change.)  A sports psychologist I was fortunate to share an office with told me there are some things we cannot change. One player, he worked with had severe anxiety. His view was that he wouldn’t “cure” his anxiety but the player could accept and adapt.

Success should be seen as a continuum, relative to the context. The photo below is a pupil I work with. I have obviously added some images to hide his identity, but you can see his smile!

Since Easter, he has refused to enter his class. He gets angry entering school and has punched staff including myself and the head. Our head is superb. He does not exclude him; he talks to him, involves family and supports me to support him – trusting my methods.

He can sit for hours in an upright fetal position silently with no verbal or non-verbal engagement. Completely shut down. When he is really distressed he will completely cover himself with his hoodie. CAMHS said there were no issues. No support, we could exclude him…or we could support him.

I spent time building up a relationship. He responds to me now. He removes his hoodie. He can still become distressed but he responds now. HUGE SUCCESS! Engagement means I can interrupt his emotional distress and stop him getting stuck (EFA).. . Not only this but the Skills Centre gives him a base where he feels safe. He is a clever lad.

Not only does he respond to me, he will complete work. He gets to watch documentaries in return but I don’t mind that. He respects my clear boundaries.

But that is not all…I was asked to cover his year. I asked hum if he wanted to “help” me. I expected a “no” or a shrug (I hate shrugs but have learnt to deal with it!). He shrugged, so I gave him the choice and an escape plan. He spent 20 minutes in class – mainly drawing me in a ballet tutu but others laughed and he had a glimmer of interaction. I was able to tell him that the picture was not appropriate and he put it away. No big deal. No drama. A glance between us of respect. He may have only stayed 20 minutes but that was HUGE for him.

The next day, I was asked to cover again. I jumped at the chance to keep the momentum going. I can’t say he had a perfect week in class. He was out more than in but he was in…without me.

As part of history, they were covering Vikings. Nothing interested him less! But he tried so we praised and encouraged him. He tried harder. I left him to it, checking in when I said I would. I showed genuine interest. The result…well.see the work and the smile below for your self….Success here is trust. Success here is pride. Success here is far from final

On the last day of term, I was speaking to my head and I said I was proud of myself for how he had progressed. I never say I am proud of myself but…LOOK AT THE SMILE!

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