Joan Sallis Answers your questions

Q I've come to the end of term with a lot of "if onlys" and "wish I hadn'ts" and memories of moments when I could have resigned explosively. I don't suppose I'm that unusual.Have you any Christmas cheeror new year resolutions for us?

A I used to end most talks by saying "When it gets bad, shut your eyes and think about the children", which never failed to work for me.

Here are a few more thoughts:

1 Try to set aside time for reading and thinking about papers before meeting day. Half-digesting difficult issues in a hurry is the enemy of rational discussion and causes indigestion as well.

2 Always sit next to someone different.

3 Don't repeat points already made just to show you are awake - just signify assent or warm approval - but if you are really burning to say something, make sure you do even if it's unpopular. You'll sleep better.

4 If there's something to praise in a paper, do that first. Do not draw attention to trivial errors of grammar or punctuation (facts are different). A note is better.

5 Strong feeling in the community about something important needs reporting. If you don't agree, say so - it's still important the school knows.

6 Be considerate about tired staff and late nights. You may be a star turn that evening and it may even be a refreshing change from what you usually do, but remember they will be with children all next day. Being a governor is not a hobby.

7 If you know you have to say something contentious, don't duck it. But practise saying it softly.

8 If possible, always volunteer for something. And of course do it. Too many governors are good at thinking of what someone else should be doing.

9 Laugh.

10 Shut your eyes and think about the children.

Joan Sallis's column now appears every three weeks: see more of her answers on the TES website. The TES welcomes your queries. Joan strives to answer all letters, but please keep requests for private replies to a minimum. We aim to provide helpful information for ALL readers and always protect the identity of schools and individuals. Send questions to The TES, Admiral House, 66-68 East Smithfield, London E1W 1BX,fax 020 7782 3202, or see

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