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Have we lost our sense of fun?

I don’t know about you, but I didn’t get into teaching to complete 30-page risk assessments. I didn’t get into it to spend 4 hours a day staring at a computer screen responding to emails. It certainly wasn’t to look at strategic plans, vision and mission statements or professional standards. All noble pursuits (keeping folks safe, communicating, planning) but not high on my motivation list! 

I never wanted a corporate career. Actually, my younger, more idealistic self’s career goal was never to work in an office. To never sit at a desk. Never wear a tie. I wanted a job that was real. That meant something. That made a difference. Most importantly. I wanted a fun job. Active. Engaging. Movement-based. I wanted to do something for the next generation.

Once I’d looked around options in the years post-school, I responded to the call of becoming a teacher. I entered the profession wanting ‘my’ kids to have the best possible experience of school possible. I wanted them to be excited about coming to school each day. I wanted them to learn, but I wanted them to be good people. I wanted them to feel like they belonged to something. That they were valued. But most importantly, I wanted them to love coming to school. A big part of that was making school as fun as possible.  

Whether it was a game of ‘World Championship’ Simon Says, organising a World Cup of handball/soccer/touch/cricket, or a game of Bin Ball (this sport should be in the Olympics – actually my argument for Bin Ball to become an Olympic sport might have to be my next Blog Post!) through to a simple game of heads down-thumbs up or Hangman were all regular occurrences in my classrooms. I remember doing a Space theme in a Year 3 class where the kids entered the door through a rocket made of an old fridge cardboard box  – they loved it! This wasn’t to the detriment of the learning of the class. In my mind, it always enhanced the learning opportunities and levels of engagement in the classroom. This was reinforced to me recently by a former student named Jack, who spotted me across a dog park early last Thursday morning. I hadn’t seen Jack since the early 2000s when I taught him in Year 6. Jack, who is now in his early 30s (put your hand up if you’re now feeling old!!!), shared freely with me and anyone within earshot that his year in that class remains the best year of his life. Intrigued… I asked him why? His eager response didn’t mention the high-quality lessons, my excellent relationships with parents, my assessment techniques, or how aligned my lessons were to the curriculum. His response was, “You made it fun!”. Jack, who I recall as being a fairly quiet student, said, “It was the only time I loved coming to school.”   

So… not to be too dramatic, but where did it all go wrong? Why are we all so tired? Why doesn’t anybody want to be a teacher anymore? Why are so many amazing, wonderful humans who have dedicated their professional lives to this noble profession retiring early or leaving? Why are our students angry? Sad? Neglected? Disengaged? Have little resilience? Why? Why? Why?

In this amazing role as an Expert Facilitator with Real Schools, I have had the absolute privilege of engaging with schools across multiple states, cities and systems. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realise that schools are a little down. A lot tired, exhausted and even overwhelmed. The same can be said for our kids. Parents too! The language I hear has a strong negative bias to it.

What I feel we’re doing at Real Schools is flipping the narrative around that. And schools that are engaging in partnerships want the same thing. We’re working alongside amazing school leaders, teachers and staff to flip the narrative. By using language to recognise the amazing things happening in our schools. To focus on the positives. That we reconnect with our young people in schools, and you know what, bugger it, let’s bring parents along for the journey. Let’s have an explicit focus on developing super close relationships with all stakeholders in our community and focus on having the most amazing school cultures ever!

It doesn’t matter if your school is in the city or country, government or independent, primary or secondary, let’s bring back the sense of fun in our schools – without having to complete a survey, mandatory test or some other ridiculous act of compliance that completely wastes our time as professionals. It’s not the reason I got into this gig – and I reckon you’re feeling a bit the same!

Does anyone fancy a game of Bin Ball??