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Remembering Our Why

Ask any teacher, and they will be able to tell you about the absolute delight and pride that we experience when a student has an ‘Aha!’ moment.

You know, that special point in time when a concept, skill or strategy just falls into place for our students. If we are fortunate enough to witness this epiphany, this flash of insight is quite literally visible on the young person’s face. In this case, we automatically feel a flush of joy and satisfaction. Moments like these remind us why we become teachers in the first place, and they can make the other stuff, the not-so-satisfying things, the hard bits and the tiring bits, all suddenly worth it.

These days, I don’t have a class of wonderful students or even a staff who teach young people to share these pivotal moments with me. Fortunately, I still get to experience the jubilation of the ‘Aha!’ moment; however, these days, they come from the incredible leaders and educators I have the privilege of partnering with on their journey to becoming a restorative school community. Honestly, people sharing these moments with me could be the job’s best part.

Take Mel, a Deputy Principal from Mudgee High School, who told me in one of our very interesting and enjoyable chats that she now has a much deeper appreciation for the power of words. She explained that as she is conscious of the words she chooses when engaging with staff and young people, she tends to talk less! Mel knows that for students to be truly engaged, they need to be thinking, speaking and doing, and they can’t really be doing that if she’s doing all the talking.

Jasmine, a Principal from St Mary’s in Echuca, shared recently that some of her teachers have a growing appreciation of the power of a restorative conversation, particularly with students who have additional needs or may sit on the Autism spectrum. Their real insight came with the realisation that even if these chats don’t go exactly as planned, the responses young people give or don’t give are key to understanding which skills or strategies may need to be proactively taught and practiced to support the young person to better work through conflict next time.

Darren and the team from Morisset High School regularly share wins and breakthroughs with the entire staff, and I am fortunate enough to be included in the celebrations. Hearing about staff determined not to be restricted by classroom size or space and taking their learning circles outside to make the most of winter sunshine absolutely made my day.

The enthusiasm from Amelia at Ocean Road Primary School as she shared how her Year 5 students value their morning check-in circle so much that they are disappointed if, for some reason, they have to miss it, was infectious.

Walking the grounds of Anzac Park Public School and hearing teachers and other staff talking with an ‘affective accent’, their use of affective language so embedded that it sounds completely natural, saw me getting around with a big goofy grin on my face.

Moments and conversations like this let me know I am where I am meant to be; they remind me of my why and motivate me to be the best facilitator and critical friend I can be for my partner schools. What ‘Aha!’ moments from your students or staff have you been fortunate enough to witness lately? Why don’t you take some time now to reflect and soak up that good stuff.

Check out other articles Kirsty has written here.