I stalked the lounge room on Thursday evening like a frustrated animal in a cage, pausing only to roar (either hopefully or angrily) at the players in the deserted MCG who was never going to hear me.
This was my primal response to being able to watch my team, Richmond, return to football. The match was a draw and the standard, despite the match being played between two of the AFL’s best teams, was deplorable.
You see, Richmond’s success in recent years is built on teamwork and connection. But the last three months have deprived these players of the opportunity to connect and train together. Each individual player was fit and strong, but their ability to work as a team had taken an enormous hit.
It was a bit ugly.
As we educators return to schools, our match fitness and our determination to succeed may be beyond question. But our fitness to collaborate and cooperate could be a bit rusty.
And while we ponder what we’ve learned from working apart that we could continue to do remotely, such as meetings and professional learning, we should never forget that every individual grows optimally within a sound, connected, supportive system.
Each classroom is such a system. An intentional focus on re-establishing that system’s cohesion, rather than on incessantly assessing the individuals in that system, will be the priority of our best teachers right now.
Each staff is also a system. School leaders who find ways for educators to collaborate effectively, rather than efficiently, will be those who are our most respected school leaders.
And try not to yell at each other. Like the Richmond players at the MCG on Thursday night while I prowled the lounge room, they’re not listening to the advice anyway.