For I am full of spirit and resolve to meet all perils very constantly.
We think we know our students, and in some ways, perhaps we do. But in other ways, we can never know them. We can never know the struggles they face, we can never know what their formative years have done to them, and we can never know their true potential. We just need to keep raising the bar.
All teachers want the best for their students, but that aspiration can look different to different people. There are still teachers out there who say: “that’s really good progress for a student like that.” There are still teachers out there who say: “we can’t control their home lives, and so they won’t ever achieve what they could.” There are still teachers out there who say: “you have to understand that this child has special educational needs.” I know there are, because I’ve met them. These statements are wrong.
If we were all able to live by these simple, but easily ignored observations, education would be better for all children. Of course, that’s not to say that raising the bar and having high expectations are the only things we should be doing, but they will certainly help.
The thing with resolutions is that we have more ability than will power. We imagine that things are impossible to excuse ourselves from trying. The trick is to resolve to do what we most value, forgive ourselves for falling short and try, try again.
So, if you’re struggling to come up with a meaningful resolution for the coming year, why not pick a couple from the list below:
- Before you add something new to teachers’ workload, consider what you will take away. Just adding more leads to stress, under-performance and burnout.
- Never do anything because you think it’s what Ofsted want. Try asking, What would happen if we didn’t do this? What difference would not doing something really make?
- Try assuming that teachers are doing the best they are able for the students they teach. If a teacher is struggling, consider what could you do to actually make their life easier instead of more onerous.
- Expecting teachers to sacrifice their home lives to manage their work load is not only unreasonable, it’ll have a negative impact on their productivity. What could you do to model a healthy home/work balance?
- Never send an email when a polite conversation might do the trick.
- Follow the school rules – they are there for everyone’s protection. Not following them actively undermines your colleagues.
- If something needs doing, just get on and do it. Don’t wait for permission and even more importantly, don’t ask for permission. Just do it to the best of your ability.
- Students learn what they think about – plan lessons which require students to think about what you actually want them to learn.
- Think carefully about what you choose to do; you can only do one thing at a time, and there is always an opportunity cost.
- Turning up everyday is a massive achievement. What can you do to ensure you’re healthy enough to make this a possibility?
None of these suggestions are panaceas, but they could each help to improve the system for all involved.
Happy New Year.