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Are you looking at the problem from the right angle?

You may have noticed that this is my first Real Schools newsletter in a wee while.  It’s been some time since my family and I took a ‘real’ holiday and the last couple of weeks that we spent exploring London have been filled with bucket list moments that will entwine our conversations for years.

As is always the case when you holiday, photos are a big deal.  Here’s my favourite one from the trip.

It’s not my favourite holiday snap because my son, Ronan, and I are cricket nuts and that our tour of Lords was a rather overwhelming experience for us both.  It’s not because it’s from the Australian players’ change rooms – because it’s not.  This pic was taken in the English players’ change rooms.

It’s my favourite picture because of the conversation Ronan and I had after this pic was taken.  Ronan isn’t keen on having his photo taken or by having any attention drawn to him – there’s a 14 year old for you.  But as the tour guide spoke to us he pointed out that Ronan was sitting in the very chair occupied in every Test match by the English captain, Joe Root.  Everyone looked at Ronan and, when the tour guide’s spiel was complete I asked if I could get a pic of Ronan in Joe Root’s spot.  “Umm, no Dad” came the firm reply.

Ronan then jumped up and took his own pic out the window from the very place that Root sees the game.  As we left the changerooms, I asked him why he did that.  “Because I just thought it was cool to see the game how he sees it.  No wonder he makes different decisions to the commentators when their view of the game is the complete opposite, eh.”  Note – you can see the media centre in the distance of Ronan’s pic … on the opposite side of the ground.

It got me to thinking about the lack of variation we have in our points of view in schools.  We see things as Principals, APs, Senior Teachers, Classroom Teachers or Learning Support Assistants every single day.  But that’s just our view.

Are there other views that would allow us to make a different decision?  For a School Leader, would teaching a class for two hours allow your advice to a Teacher to be different rather by merely observing the class from your usual vantage point?  As a Teacher, would asking to sit in on just one Leadership Meeting allow you to understand the reasoning behind decision making processes in your school?

Narrow points of view, particularly of problems and challenges, are counter-productive when it comes to mission success.  Understanding the context of a challenge is critical to any achievement – and our own narrow view may just be limiting your ability to see what’s truly possible.