The #PrimaryRocks family

If you were expecting a blog on the phenomenal speakers (of which there were many) then I am afraid this is not the blog for you. There will be a number of those in the days to come, and one already on here from the wonderful Colin. This one is a little more personal. This is about the #PrimaryRocks family.

On the morning of Primary Rocks, 3 hours before kick off, I received a phone call from my mum to tell me my grandad had died. It wasn’t unexpected – he was a very poorly man, who had lived to 94 (the day before, in fact). But still. It was the phone call you don’t want to get before attending and presenting at a conference.

My mum and I had discussed this eventuality and even in that phone call she told me to ‘go do your workshop, and be brilliant’. There isn’t a blueprint for grief – if there was, someone would have built a safe house. I sat, 160 miles from home, and decided to do as I was told.

As I said, this blog is about the #PrimaryRocks family. As keynote Graham Andre said, we often keep things bottled up. I chose to tell a number of people the news I received. Not for sympathy, but because I wanted them to know that however I was that day wasn’t personal, I just had some news. Because we don’t know how we will act, do we? Grief isn’t a linear thing. Grief may have made me act differently, cry more (definitely that) and I wanted people to know that, genuinely, ‘it’s not you, it’s me’.

Anyway, I genuinely believe that had it been any other conference I would have walked away. But the positive, caring atmosphere of #PrimaryRocks saw me through. All day I was hugged, had my arm patted, bought chocolate and offered tea. People I barely knew stopped to check on me. Others went out of their way to check in, message and offer support.

The previous night I had organised #PrimaryRocksCurry, bringing together 20+ teachers, some who had come solo and never met anyone else. It was a lovely thing – to see people connect and bond, knowing they wouldn’t feel quite so overwhelmed the next day. These guys, along with the @GroundEd team and countless others, were my lifeline, my support.

Teachers have complex lives and complex relationships with their jobs. Some will have come wondering if it was the career for them, others dealing with the fallout of a safeguarding issue. But on PR day, this has been put aside to celebrate the positive side. The vibe is electric – in workshops, the lunch queue and the inevitable rain while you wait for ice cream. That vibe, that positivity, made it possible for me to (mostly) get through without crying.

So thank you. Thank you to the #PrimaryRocks team, to the speakers and the attendees. Thank you for organising a space and a conference which can allow a person to ride through grief on a wave of love, support and positivity. To everyone who interacted with me – whether you knew my news or not – you carried me through.

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