How’s the weather at your place lately? The best way to describe it in my neck of the woods is unpredictable, and that’s putting it mildly! I know an Aussie Spring can be irrational at the best of times, but this year the alternation between heat, cold, wind and rain seems more temperamental than ever. And from my conversations with school leaders and teachers in schools across the country in the last few weeks it seems the climate in our classrooms and school yards is a little unstable too.
Of course, classroom climate can fluctuate and change at any time, but it appears that a combination of a rise of illnesses (I’m looking at you COVID, gastro and Influenza A!), teacher shortages, exams, extracurricular activities, and the commencement of all those end of year celebrations have merged to create the perfect storm. So, what can we do about it? I figure we have two choices; let ourselves get carried away Dorothy and Toto style into the eye of the storm and hope for the best, or we can delve into our extensive Teacher Toolkit to see what equipment we have available to help us weather the deluge and come out hopefully in one piece.
A great first step to move from surviving to thriving in Term Four is to check our mindset. As the amazing Tash from Kalinda Primary School puts it, deciding to have Unconditional Positive Regard for our colleagues, students and others in our school community can tip the odds towards much more productive interactions. And she’s right, when we approach with curiosity, and a healthy dose of empathy for the strain others’ may be under right now, we can take that fabulous High Road, and model for those around us the power of seeking to understand first.
Chelsey, another incredible educator from Kalinda PS, summed up what I think is a great blueprint for getting the balance right to weather the storm of Term Four – and she calls it ‘Structured Fun’. There’s the structured part, which is all about the measures we put into place to prepare ourselves and our students for unpredictability of the term, and to support them to respond to changes in routine. This is often about going back to basics, that is priming students for the behaviours we want to see, identifying hotspots (and times) around the school and ensuring the consistency of adult language and expectations, preparing our students for the Christmas concert, celebration assembly, swimming excursion etc. It can mean making sure we are responding to conflict as swiftly and effectively as possible, to prevent small things from becoming big things. It’s also about ensuring our students are still highly engaged in their learning and have plenty to do – and this is where the fun part comes in!
There’s no escaping that the end of the year is a time for celebration, and it’s such a great opportunity to reflect on achievements and distance travelled. It’s a perfect time to inject more joy and light-heartedness into the learning process, to experiment and allow kids to demonstrate their skills and knowledge in lots of different ways, and to recognise and appreciate the good things that have happened along the way. Just keep it….structured!
I reckon if the all the adults in the learning community work to get this balance right, we have a better chance of clear skies ahead for the next few weeks. And what do you know, I just checked the weather forecast, and it’s promising a return to that beautiful Spring weather we have all been waiting for.
Check out other articles Kirsty has written here.