I have, on occasions, referred to this blog as a “thinking-skip.” A space to transfer my thinking and thoughts for record or storage. A space to collect and curate thoughts/thinking, stories and extracts. Sometimes, I use it as a space to offload, to make thinking-space, with the intention of coming back to that thinking at some later point in time. This is one such occasion.
What matters most?
Three weeks ago, what mattered most was returning home together, as a family from Dubai. I was off-boarding an international teaching role and we were departing under the pressures of our children’s Visitor Visa expiry date. Departing our fully-dressed rental accommodation, settling accounts, completing immigration paperwork, signing documents, painting the villa, getting our dead lawn replaced (I kid you not), packing, whilst seeking UK school places for our children back home and making short term accommodation arrangements. I can not think of a time I was more motivated? Criss-crossing the city running errands, following up emails and phone calls. What mattered most – our family.
Thank you to all those colleagues that offered their encouragement, help and support at the time. From the maintenance team that loaned us a step ladder, drill and painting equipment, to senior colleagues who checked in on our safe return.
What matters most?
On any given day, in schools everywhere, staff are doing remarkable things students, for their students’ parents, for one another. Some of these remarkable actions get amplified and celebrated. The actuality is that the vast majority of what goes on in any organisation goes unheralded.
There is nothing more important than ensuring our students safety. During our staff INSET on Safeguarding, I wanted to share with staff an important and singular message.
I was trying to communicate that it is our every day actions that encourages a student to put their trust in us as an adult.
On sharing this message, the climate in the room palatably changed. It was fleeting, it mattered and I let the tables continue their informal discussions around that slide a little longer. The gut feeling that I had struck a cord was affirmed by more than a good handful of teachers who purposefully stopped me in corridor that day, to discuss that slide.
As a teacher and as a leader, (as a father and as a husband) it was a reminder to notice and recognise those important and small things that staff and students do ‘every day’ – that add incremental value. That collectively, it may well be these ‘every day’ actions are what matter most. A shout out to Amjad Ali @ASTsupportAAli for being better than I am at this very task (of notice and acknowledging).
What matters most?
What matters most in my classroom? I have come to the position that teaching is complex and learning is messy and difficult to pinpoint. Relationships are influential (bi-directionally) and lastly, that educating students is a collective endeavour.
When everyone in a school believes that together they can make a difference, the impact on student attainment can be almost quadrupled –(Eells, 2011).
“What matters most” is too broad a question. I believe the question deserves contextual refinement and evidence. Otherwise, what can be asserted without evidence, can equally be dismissed with evidence. It is why it is so important that teachers talk to teachers about teaching.
What matters most is that we, as teachers, seek to find out what matters most, within our context.
To close, I am going to borrow and reissue a challenge. What Matters Most In Education? Six-Word Stories.
Professional capability, collective capacity. Every day.
Also see Ikigai – (reason for being) for deeper inspiration.