AFTER years of assemblies at Longfield Academy of Sport in Darlington, pupils were used to a surprise or two from me. But the last thing 360 silent children and staff expected to see was their 33-year-old assistant headteacher entering the hall on a longboard.
For those of you who have not yet lived, this is a larger version of a skateboard. I was inspired by seeing longboarders skating the beach sidewalks of California in their droves, keeping fit, socialising with friends and admiring the sunlit vista of the Pacific as they carved their way along the coast.
The question that entered my mind was: how could I replicate that feeling at home?
As for longboarding in droves, that wasn't going to happen. But skating along the coast, with the North Sea as a backdrop, was equally fulfilling - despite the intrigued looks I attracted. What followed was an attempt to inspire pupils to push beyond the barriers of their comfort zones and live life to the full, inside and outside school. I explained the importance of trying new things, highlighting opportunities in the school and local community, and I demonstrated how this could enhance their well-being.
"I can't" was too often being used by pupils as a default response to challenges and opportunities. I am happy to say that this phrase is now banned in school. "I can't yet" is still accepted because it has totally different connotations.
We encouraged pupils to think about their daily routines, the hours they spent on computers, social media and gaming, as well as the last time they tried something new.
I'm not on commission for selling longboards, but a number of pupils have taken up this method of transport to and from school.
Pupils have also sought me out to share their adventures and tell me about the impact such activities have had on their lives. It appears we do make a difference.
Kieran Thompson is assistant headteacher of Longfield Academy of Sport in Darlington
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