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Phoenix seen rising out of local school

Eyewitness reports

“I was walking past my local school. My son was tugging at my shirt pointing to the sky, I followed his finger and to my astonishment I saw this enormous, staggeringly beautiful phoenix soaring up out of the school grounds into the sky above it was incredible.” Paul Gleeson (Homemaker and dad).

“I reckon it’s the teachers, reborn from all the adversity they have faced. They have endured so much yet they still rise to the needs of the students, this is just the beginning, I bet we will see more phoenixes rising in the coming weeks.” Barbara Hunt (Retired teacher).

Now of course there was no mythical majestic phoenix rising out of the school grounds. But it is an analogy suited to what I have witnessed in schools over the last month or so. There has been incredible renewal and a determination to reinvigorate after years of adversity and disaster. The leaders and teachers are like mythical creatures, who are not only surviving but instead we are seeing a resurgence of adaptation and creativity.

There are so many examples of growth through adversity, in nature, in mythology and from human endeavor. Pyrophytic plants such as the grass trees of Xanthorrhoea and red beak orchards will only flower after a fire. The mythical phoenix is reborn after arising from the ashes of its predecessor. And there are many stories of human suffering leading to great strength leadership and role modelling, like Turia Pit who comes to mind.

Schools have experienced trauma and severe disruption due to covid, floods and bushfires. And if that was not enough to endure, there are teacher shortages, well-being concerns and demands that are coming from all directions. Despite all these complexities, just like the bush regenerating after a fire, schools are on the verge of resprouting and renewal. Schools are getting on with the business of teaching and learning. They are overcoming all adversity and putting the needs of their students first.

Teachers and school leaders are not mythical creatures, but they do have other superpowers. Teachers and school leaders have soft skill superpowers, including compassion, professionalism, genuine care, creativity, tenacity, and hope, hope that things will improve and get better for the benefit of the students in their care.

Some events are out of our control, schools cannot manage weather or natural disasters, they cannot change the pandemic or magically soothe the woes of their students and staff, yet they do many things to adapt.

  • Teachers and leaders put students’ needs first.
  • Teachers use their intuition to deliver lessons that are going to set students up for success, that could be yoga, a restorative circle, or a game to bring calm, connection, and joy into the classroom.
  • Leaders, innovate whole school programs and structures to adapt to new challenges.

While teachers and school leaders are demonstrating resilience, courage, and renewal after a period of intense adversity, they are not superhuman. They are, however, super dedicated, super professional, and super focused on student outcomes.

They, like the phoenix, deserve our admiration and awe.

Check out other articles Sheila has written here.