I can run. I love to run. I am improving all of the time. I can get better. I need to run more to improve. I need to challenge myself to improve.
At the start of the year, I was a non runner. One of my goals this year was to get back into running. 13 years ago, I was a runner. I was a good runner. I had great 5 and 10k PB’s, regularly ran half marathons and my biggest challenge, completing the London Marathon, remains one of my greatest achievements.
Fast forward to 2014 and I was a non runner. Living at the top of a very steep hill on all sides, being “too busy” to run, having a baby and the challenges on your time that brings all meant I had reasons not to run.
After gaining a ballot place for this year’s Great North Run, I had a reason to run. My first run was horrific. 2 miles felt like 20. I had to stop and walk more than once. I felt devastated, frustrated and ashamed. It would have been easy to give up, to think, “I’ll never do it” but I didn’t.
In the last 6 months, I have found solace in my running. It gives me time to clear my head, to reflect on the day that has passed, or the day approaching. Time to consolidate, challenge or change my thoughts and decisions. It has also made me more certain than ever, that instilling a growth mindset in my students will break down so many barriers to their learning.
I am a slow runner. I will never break any speed records. I joined a lovely running club to help me improve. I’ve met some amazing people who encourage and most importantly motivate and inspire me, mirroring my colleagues at work. I’ve entered races to push me out of my comfort zone and the most challenging, difficult races are the ones I’ve enjoyed the most. I can keep going, I can improve, I can do it.
I have goals at work to motivate me to improve, to push me out of my comfort zone, to help me move towards where I want to be. Just like running, not all the skills are there yet, the confidence is growing and the desire to improve is there so I know what I need to do and where I need to go. I know who to ask, to speak to, to look towards, but also more importantly I know when other people may also need me to encourage, consolidate, help and instil the confidence they seek too.
Making sure my students develop a growth mindset is one of my priorities this year. How can they improve if they fear failure, when this is the feeling that will give them the desire, knowledge and skills to improve? Failure is a good thing as there is always room to improve.
This year has been fantastic for me as I’m running times I know I will beat next year IF I do the work, IF I put the effort in, IF I challenge myself. This is the way I want my students to think and I know if I can give them the confidence to fail, then they will soar back up. I am on that journey with them and will continue to challenge them with our amazing new curriculum in our Performing Arts lessons, to raise the bar in my GCSE class, who have impressed me SO much with their grit and determination to tackle some very difficult work already.
The harder the challenge, the greater the improvement, the better the mindset, the more satisfying the achievement.