Yesterday I had a moan about the lack of support that the SBL community has, and how there didn't seem to be any one organisation that was truly looking out for us. I still think that, and I'm still thinking about what the solutions and options for the national SBL community might be.
But then a very wise friend challenged me on my armchair warrior status by asking me why I didn't do something about it then. She was, of course, absolutely right, and knows me well enough to know that a gauntlet thrown will always be taken up. And I tweeted a thread, suggesting that the SBL community come together to support each other, through a programme of self-help. You can read about it here:
It's not groundbreaking, it's incredibly simple, it just asks SBLs to pick up the phone, or send and email, to make contact with one other SBL and arrange to meet up for a professional visit. But that one connection might be one that makes a huge difference to one person, and a series of huge differences become an difference, and that's when real change can occur.
I also signposted the SBLtwittermap so that new members of the community could add their locations and people could locate their SBL neighbours.
Within minutes, my notifications started pinging with likes, new twittermap signups, DMs and replies. And that's not because of me, it's because of the active SBL community. We rise to challenges, we answers calls to arms, and we jump in and offer support when it is needed.
Shortly after, an SBM Mentors account appeared and the wonderful @JustChezBubbles had set up a mentor/mentee matching service, just like that. It's already up and running and matching experienced practitioners with aspiring and newly-appointed SBLs. And that's truly astonishing. Not just that Cheryl had the idea and the will to do it, but also that so many others signed up and offered support.
So whilst I still hold true to the need for a national body to support the SBL community, on many levels and for many reasons, and especially for those colleagues who aren't on social media, I'm delighted that the #SBLtwitter community is such a fantastically proactive and responsive family of professionals.
And that response typifies the personality and aptitudes of the profession - that 'give it here' mentality, those problem solvers and do-ers and leaders and supporters that make things happen where no one else can or will. We are a remarkable bunch of people without whom our education system would be in a far worse place. Years of funding cuts have torn the fabric of our support structure to pieces, but we have been there, holding it together, with string and glue and willpower, and by clasping hands with each other to stop the whole thing from falling apart.
I've heard the news about the government funding promise and I truly hope it will be without-strings real cash direct to real schools, and that the SBL profession will once again be able to resource our schools effectively and efficiently. Right now I don't and can't fully believe it until I see the detail and the small print, but let's hope this is one promise we can rely on.
And if it's not quite as good as it seems, well, we'll carry on doing the very best we can, will stoicism, collaboration and a huge amount of skill.
So thank you SBLs of twitter, for being fantastic, and for caring enough about your fellow professionals to offer to support them. Perhaps professional wellbeing really can be achieved through a collective decision to collaborate and address the pressures we face? I hope so. I believe so. I think I already know so.