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Context is king

I use this picture for a note-taking postcard about “Committed Teachers” when we run Real Schools Professional Learning.  Commitment is a difficult thing for us educators to talk about and we often get a bit touchy or defensive when questioned about how committed or dedicated we are.  Fair enough too!

The problem is not our commitment, but the way we measure it.  We’re using the wrong ruler!  No more should we measure commitment by time and effort.  I’ve not met one school where the problem is that its Teachers aren’t trying hard enough or working long enough.

Let’s start measuring commitment by our willingness to honestly reflect on practice, to improve, to discard ways that aren’t serving us and to model lifelong learning.  That’s what the Italian Teachers in this pic are doing.

On closer inspection, what you can see in the pic are the small subtle changes in context that have allowed these Teachers to be so deeply and comfortably in professional dialogue,  Note the:

  • Absence of a table, sending a subtle message that the conversation is more important than the product sometimes.
  • Cushy chairs to ensure easy access to the neo cortex of our brains as opposed to the cerebelum’s distactible fight to make us comfortable.
  • The circular seating arrangement renedering it almost impossible to determine who the leader in the group is.  They’re on an even footing due to the absence of powerful positions.

We sometimes look to improve our meetings in schools by changing or controlling what we say.  But the truth is – I can’t control what you say.  Not one bit actually.

However, I do have a big say over the context in which we speak, meet, collaborate, problem solve and create.  It’s time to get a little more Italian in the design of these contexts.  It makes the world of difference.


Free WEBINAR – The Truth About Bullying




We can all be misled by the media and even by the general vibe of industry conversation. This is what’s happened to us when it comes to bullying.While we’ve been arguing over which anti-bullying ‘program’ is best – all encompassing, LGBTI, racism, sexism, physical, bystander or cyberbullying – we’ve failed to see the common point of failure within all of them. That they are programs! So obsessed with program have we become that we’ve now hit around 9000 global attempts to program our way out of bullying. One of them should have worked!Programs are useful for compartmentalising. You can, for instance, teach robotics on a Wednesday afternoon to decent effect. But bullying is not a compartment of our students’ educative experience. It’s everywhere – it’s cultural!So it stands to reason that no compartmentalised program will ever achieve more than a ‘sugar hit’ when it comes to feeling better and safer at school. So what do we do?In this webinar, we’ll unpack for you:
  • the imperative for whole-school approach over program when it comes to bullying.
  • the whole-school approaches that have worked globally.
  • the behaviours and artefacts evident in schools where bullying is low.
  • the immediate changes that Teachers and Leaders can make for drastically improved “return on investment”.
  • the proven benefits of shifting model, language and practice to something more effective and less stressful.
This Real Schools Webinar is aimed at Teachers, School Leaders, Administrators and Teachers of all phases of learning – you’d be crazy to miss it!