For the Christmas break, I created a sort of reflective challenge to anyone who wished to take on an idea, to look back over their career and to distil what they had learned over that time, in three main categories; on you as a person, on children and on management, which I broadened to simply working with others.
The original blog had a number of very thoughtful contributions, so they can be explored at the base of the blog;
However, even with a large number of very kind donations, the total came to approximately 700 years, so didn’t quite get to the 1000 years that I had hoped. So, as a last call approach, I hope that lockdown has given time for reflection on what is important in education, maybe lessons about yourself. Perhaps time away from front line teaching has offered food for thought about children as learners, maybe about working with others. There are some creative ideas for interpretation, but any reflections can be shared in the comment box at the bottom of this blog.
Some of the original collection were developed a little further into a downloadable "non-book", which can be accessed through https://chrischiversthinks.weebly.com/pdfs.html
Thank you to anyone who reads my blog. It’s been two months as of today and the visitor count has been high, which has been a source of much pleasure.
The site is a series of reflective posts, which occasionally seek to put current issues into a historical perspective, at least a career perspective. It has long worried me that large numbers of people leave education, after a long and successful career and that’s that. The wealth of expertise and their insights are lost to the system.
Schools are organic and go through phases of development. A settled staff, working together, develops an internal (historical) narrative that is enhanced and becomes more nuanced each year. When significant members, or large numbers, change, there can be a loss of history, with new members who may fail to understand the story to date and their own interpretations may be a shadow of what went before. Of course, it can be the case that the “group think” created by a settled staff can embed practices that a new pair of eyes sees more objectively. Either way, the organic nature of the organisation is to “heal” within the new body, to assume, hopefully, a new equilibrium.
Whether good, bad or indifferent, a school career offers insights into oneself, as a person and a practitioner, into children, as people and learners, parenting habits and management, either as a promoted post or having to deal with management decisions.
Having contributed to Rachel Jones “Don’t Change the Light Bulbs” book, it struck me that crowdsourcing could be a means of collating a wealth of information.
So I extend an invitation, to any reader of my blog, to share their distilled thoughts as succinctly as possible. If we can get to 1000 years, with a corporate effort, I’ll do my best to distil the thoughts further to come up with a collegiate précis.
Below is a contribution from @GazNeedle, who is normally sketching, doodling and cartooning ideas. As it wouldn't copy into the comment thread, I thought it would fit here.
Please Read Gaz's written comment plus those of many other kind contributors below. (Ed; via the original blog)
40 year career, Secondary science, Primary, Junior, Primary, Junior, Infant (DH), Primary (HT) ITT tutor, assessor for a range of national schemes, Consultant (isn’t everyone, these days?)
On you, as a person.
- Keep things simple; they are then easy to understand and communicate.
- Be yourself, be strong and continue to be a learner and thinker. Have a hobby/life!
- Be a team player and a leader when necessary. Schools are stronger together.
- Organise a class space that supports learning, as well as your teaching.
- Resource effectively, for easy retrieval and return.
- Be ordered and organised, be strategic in your thinking and communicate effectively with everyone.
- Know your children well.
- Plan for their learning, over different timescales, make sure the “story” is good and makes them think. There’s a big world out there; open eyes, ears, hearts and minds.
- Think with them, talk with them and make adjustments when you see they are not “getting it”.
- As you get to know them better, fine tune challenges to their needs.
- Parents are essential partners. Harness their energy appropriately. Make home activity count.
On management (working with people)
- Humanity should be a byword for everyone. Create a climate of respect. Model it.
- You work with and through your team. You are responsible for their welfare. Value them.
- Make sure the work environment supports their efforts, with appropriate space, resources and time.
- Goodwill works two ways; a “give and take” approach buys extra effort.
- Communicate, communicate, communicate; don’t assume.
- Strategy is only as good as the explanation and the understanding. You can have all the plans in the world, but, if no-one understands them, they will fail.
- Take time to say thank you.
Thanks to Craig Parkinson @cparkie, for the Wordle below, highlighting the key words from eight early contributors. Interesting what are the highlights; could be a useful discussion piece. Would your staff room agree the priorities?