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One woman, one team and a network.

I’ve been wanting to write this post for so long…

I can’t believe that my first year as a Deputy Head has come to an end! All you people that are reading this didn’t know me before I was appointed to this position and when I tell you that I’m a totally different person now to the person one year ago I know you won’t really understand. I won’t go into details – but professionally, I was at rock bottom.

What has happened to me over this year that has transformed me! Well, it comes down to one woman, a team and a network!

One woman:

You all know who I’m talking about: @DianneSpencer. Possible the most humble person I know. You’ll know her as a dedicated Head Teacher who seems to lack confidence when delving into the world of technology. You won’t know all the things I’m about to tell you about. Dianne is an expert in so many areas, some she is aware of and many she is not aware of I’m sure! Talk about righteous indignation…Dianne is in it for exactly the right reasons. Dianne is a careful, thorough, dedicated, humble, gracious, honest and loyal leader. She has the emotional intelligence of a counsellor/social worker/teacher/listener/friend all rolled into one! We are developing a strong professional relationship where the climate is just ‘right’ to be able to challenge, enquire and celebrate! Dianne has played an instrumental role in my development from Mr. Mitchell to @DeputyMitchell. As a young Headteacher, I can only imagine what brilliant things lay ahead for her!

Thank you Dianne!

One team:

Heathfield Primary School is a special place. People say that in every school you get your ‘blockers’! Not at Heathfield you don’t! A young dynamic staff who care for EVERY single child at ALL times of the day. Coming to work is a pleasure at Heathfield and meetings I have on a one to one level are always constructive and valuable due to the fact that everything is done for the good of the pupils at Heathfield. Meetings I have on a larger scale may sometimes be challenging but that is the way it should be. My school team challenge me on a daily basis from the time I see people investing in children  in their own time to coming seeing me and expressing worries or concerns about something. Each day brings a new challenge yet as a team we are linked by a common goal – the pupils!

The staff at Heathfield have made me feel so welcome, are so generous, so hard working and love their jobs just as much as I do!

Thank you!

One network:

This time last year, I had just joined Twitter and had about 6 followers! I could NEVER have imagined that just over a year later you guys would be playing such an important role in my professional and personal life. The level of conversation I have on a daily basis is just out of this world. There are no borders, no time differences, no hierarchy and no barriers. There are just too many people to thank individually but if I tweet with you or RT you or DM you or follow you, I really value the conversations on all levels! You are my search engine and I rely on you so much, possibly too much! You have been instrumental in the success of our school blogs and my pupils have got to know many of you over the year too!

Each and every one of you – Thank you!

July 22, 2010


Leave a comment
  1. Stephen
    July 23, 2010 at 12:04 am #

    What a lovely blogpost. As I will be starting a similar job in September, yours and Tom Barrett’s blogs are very useful guides for the future! Thanks @mrlockyer

  2. Chris Ratcliffe
    July 23, 2010 at 7:59 am #

    By far the best post I have read for a very long time. I’ve only met @diannespencer once in person, but from the regular tweeting I get a sense of exactly what you are saying!

    What you don’t get the sense at all of a person who was at “rock-bottom” – testament to great leadership, focus and what very clearly shines through as a positive, fun and inspirational deputy head!

    • Mr Mitchell
      July 23, 2010 at 9:08 am #

      Your impressions of Dianne hit the nail on the head! She doesn’t know how outstanding she is! She makes many sacrifices to be the Headteacher she is and I’m sure she will be quietly proud to know that we see that in her!

  3. Ed
    July 23, 2010 at 8:13 am #

    Ditto! I could have written this post, honestly! I have a wonderful head like yours. I work in an incredible school environment too (while the teachers aren’t all young, they are dynamic and thoughtful!). And last but not least, no-one can possibly put a value on the incredible online network of educators that Twitter has given me.(us)
    We’re lucky…

    • Mr Mitchell
      July 23, 2010 at 9:06 am #

      It’s great to have 100% confidence in your Headteacher isn’t it? I feel ‘led’ yet ‘led’ in a way that allows me run run off and fall off the swing and bump my head, knowing that my leader allowed me to find out that it hurt by myself!

  4. Kevin McLaughlin
    July 23, 2010 at 9:02 am #

    What a fantastically uplifting blog post. I really enjoyed reading it and I am sure Dianne and the staff and students at your school will too. Imagine what’s possible in the year ahead! Your blog is always a source of inspirational real life practical examples that any teacher can use in their own classrooms. Long may it continue.

    • Mr Mitchell
      July 23, 2010 at 9:04 am #

      Thank you Kevin – What’s in the post is all true! What is around the corner for Heathfield is going to be very exciting to be a part of! I’m very lucky!!

  5. jfb57
    July 23, 2010 at 9:03 am #

    You’ve brought tears to these eyes David! I’m so pleased to be able to say I’m in that network. You are an inspiration yourself & I know Heathfield & Dianne are very glad you found each other. Now you need to have a rest – from it all! Relax & look at the rest of the world. Then come back in September & give us all some more adventures to join!

    • Mr Mitchell
      July 23, 2010 at 9:14 am #

      Great advice Julie! I intend to use my 4 weeks away as (as @timrylands) would say) have some analogue time and enjoy being with my gorgeous family! Back with a BANG come September though!!

  6. Kerry Turner
    July 23, 2010 at 9:09 am #


    The environment which you describe has led to your personal growth this year, has also resulted in a visual, valuable and successful platform of learning and teaching. Its wonderful to see how easy real learning takes place in this warm and engaging environment. Keep up the marvellous work, all of you – and well done!


  7. blowtheblues
    July 23, 2010 at 9:10 am #

    I am so happy for you. I don’t know about rock bottom but we do sense the growth in you and the school. You are right to credit @DianneSpencer for her inspirational leadership but perhaps, you are like her in that I feel you have been too humble. What has happened in the last year is the result also of your dedication and hard work. I am envious of your wonderful relationship with an exceptional head and wish your team many great successes to come. We will all be looking forward to hearing of them. Thank you to both you and Dianne for sharing them and allowing us to feel uplifted by them. What is happening at Heathfield is what education should be about. All the best, Ren.

  8. IaninSheffield
    July 23, 2010 at 9:14 am #

    I’m sure the pupils at HPS realise how blessed they are; hope the parents do too.

    Looking forward to being inspired and amazed by what you guys do over th forthcoming 12 months and long into the future.


  9. ianaddison
    July 23, 2010 at 9:16 am #

    I am massively jealous of the work you guys have been doing at your school but from September I’ll be coming to you for tips!

    The crazy thing is that you’ve only been doing it a year, it all seems so embedded and so forward thinking yet realy, it’s just the beginning. Both you and Dianne are fantastic people to be in contact with and I am honoured to be part of your network!

  10. Doug Woods
    July 23, 2010 at 9:26 am #

    Mr Mitchell, I am writing this as part of the Twitter network you mention. I know you talk about the support you’ve had via twitter but it hasn’t always been one way. I have been struck, as I’m sure many have, by your openness, your willingness to share and the contributions you have made to others. Not only that but also your innovativeness (is that a word?), your creativity and your enthusiasm for your work, for technology and for combining the two.
    For all of this I say, thanks. Now have a good ‘holiday’, you deserve it.

  11. Jo
    July 23, 2010 at 9:47 am #

    What a fantastic post – I felt quite choked!
    It is fantastic when you work for such an inspirational leader who truly allows you to sprout wings, fly (and fall).
    As a relative newbie to all of this ‘techie’ stuff I can only agree – I now wonder what I did before I joined the Twitterverse.
    Amazing CPD, conversation and I’m sure in time – friends!
    Keep up the good work and remember it ia also down to your hard work that you and the school have got where they are!

  12. Dughall
    July 23, 2010 at 12:08 pm #

    Networks are mutually beneficial.

    Has been a pleasure being part of yours & Dianne’s. Thanks to you two/too 🙂

    • Mr Mitchell
      July 23, 2010 at 3:56 pm #

      Can say exactly the same about you Dughall! You’re a great person to know and seek advice from. I bet you don’t feel ‘wise’ but I’d put a lot of money on the fact that I’m not the only one who thinks that you are!!

  13. Sarah Pinkerton
    July 23, 2010 at 12:27 pm #

    What a fantastic blog post! I continue to read tweets and #edchats between yourself and others and continually feel a strong sense of community, support and well being. I thoroughly enjoy the practical examples provided to teachers, and the general inspiration to support one another. Lets hope there is more like you guys out there creating fantastic support communities, I look forward to reading your blogs in the future. Thank you!

    • Mr Mitchell
      July 23, 2010 at 3:54 pm #

      Thanks for your comment! Leadership can be a VERY lonely place, indeed there are 99% of school leaders not accessing this type of network which is such a shame. Look at how much they are missing out on!

  14. andreacarr1
    July 23, 2010 at 2:00 pm #

    It has been a privilege to get to know you and Dianne and your school this year both on line and in person! There is a really fantastic atmosphere at Heathfield and I’m looking forward to my next visit and to working with you all next year!

    • Mr Mitchell
      July 23, 2010 at 3:52 pm #

      You’re in my network so thanks also to you Andrea! Looking forward to whatever the future holds for us next year! 😉

  15. Ant Heald
    July 23, 2010 at 3:59 pm #

    Only one year?

    I’ve been tweeting away longer than that and although I’ve learned a huge amount, I feel I’ve done so little compared to the likes of you.

    I’m continually amazed & humbled by the energy and creativity of many of the people I’ve ‘met’in the online educational community. I remember the superb ‘cover-it-live’ writing session you and your students delivered at Teachmeet South Yorkshire, and it seems that whenever I open up Tweetdeck there is some conversation you’re involved in, either pumping out your own expertise or gleaning new ideas to push yourself, your class and your school forward.

    Thank you, David.

  16. Mrs Spencer
    July 23, 2010 at 4:45 pm #

    I think that every now and then you come across a fellow professional who has completely the same values and principles as yourself and who understands what you are going to say even before you finish the sentence! The combination of being as different as chalk and cheese, with very different learning styles but of having identical moral purpose has been electric!
    Our staff are amazing and every time they are given a new challenge they step up to the mark – I am so proud of them all!
    The wider network has been fab this year, so much support from so many fellow professionals. Thanks
    David and I are so different in so many ways, we learn from each other every single day, this year has been a huge adventure and I am sure that next year will truly see Heathfield blossom. Watch this space….

  17. Alee11
    July 23, 2010 at 5:06 pm #

    A fabulous post, I believe that many of us strive to have what you have in your school, which is why we follow yourself and @DianneSpencer. Thank you for all your great and humorous posts and tweets.

  18. Pam Thompson
    July 28, 2010 at 1:18 pm #

    Great post. I find it hard to believe that you could have been anywhere near rock bottom jsut having followed you on twitter this past year. Echoing others I thank you and Dianne for the ways in which you both share and collaborate with others so willingly. You sound like a great team, both personally and professionally. You are very lucky to work in such a positive and dynamic environment.Thanks for sharing your thoughts and your journey.


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