I love the start of the school year and 2024 has been no exception!
The warmth of the summer sun and the laughter of everyone on holidays; the post-Christmas buzz as the lights get packed away and people decide upon resolutions to celebrate the new year; the organisation of calendars and work flows; the groan as hot cross buns appear on the shelves in January and everyone starts the countdown to the return to school.
Teachers are planning learning sequences and classroom set up, parents/carers cramming uniform shopping and stationary orders, school leaders recruiting to fill staffing gaps, begging assets/maintenance teams to ensure the capital works are finished before school starts back, designing high quality professional learning opportunities that inspire and motivate, and kids thinking of creative ways to make the most of the time left! To quote a classic…… ‘Ah, the serenity’!
And, in the blink of an eye, schools across our great country have headed back and January has come to a close! I don’t know about everyone else, but the usual conversations dominated my connections with friends in education – and they all revolved around how to start the year ‘strong’ and keep up the momentum. Across many schools, in many states, people thinking about how to get the right learning environments for the young people they serve; people who are willing to push boundaries to meet the needs of students from diverse backgrounds; people who want to put students at the centre and people who are deeply committed to making a difference every single day.
So, let’s share some of what I heard as we jumped into 2024; you might even recognise yourself in the pearls of wisdom!
- Don’t listen to the media rubbish, don’t read it. Every holidays the media roll out the same stories about school fees, school supplies, public vs private, teaching methodology, research papers, blah, blah, blah. I encourage school staff to stand firm in their expertise, in their working knowledge of life in their school.
- Every generation has it’s strengths and challenges and teachers have always had to adapt to meet the needs in that moment. We may not understand some of the things that are relevant to the current school aged students, but we need to find ways to harness their interests and leverage them for learning.
- Compliance is NOT learning. Just ask anyone who has smashed out the 17 hours of mandatory training about what they have learned and I’m certain, they will have remembered almost none of it!
- Learning happens when the purpose is clear/intentional, when mistakes are seen as part of the journey and when we know what is expected. Let’s get explicit about what we are doing and why; assessment should never be a surprise; expectations should be clear and explicitly spoken to.
- Vents are designed to let air seep through…..trust me when I say that your ‘vent’ about a colleague, student or parent is definitely seeping through to unknown spaces!
- Respond to behaviour as explicitly as you would respond to a learning need. When someone is struggling to understand a concept, we work twice as hard to understand the learning block and to make appropriate adjustments; behaviour is the same – stay on the High Road to recognise, understand and respond.
- Celebrate the little wins. They happen all day, every day! We are hard wired to go negative – it’s time to hack our own psychology and look for the glass half full!
- Everything we do has a ripple effect. What ripples do you want to push out to the world?
- Tilt the earth! No one wants to run uphill.
- Assume good intent. Always!
- Ubuntu – a person is a person through other people. Relationships matter!
So, I’m curious about what your pearls of wisdom might be…… let’s keep capturing and sharing them. Let’s beat back the monsters under the bed and agree to go forward together!