It is going to sound crazy, perhaps ignorant or even arrogant, however, with all the research and advice that floats around about transforming education the answers lay in two questions which teachers have been asking intuitively for decades, maybe even centuries.
While the questions are simple, there are many variations to these questions and these subtle differences make a very big difference in the result they produce. No matter how often leadership has espoused the need for transformation and the educational reformers have pushed models and new tools, with these questions transformation is inevitable. Transformation without spending a cent on Professional Development.
All teachers reflect on two question with their planning and delivery; What do my students need to know and how should I teach them? Very simple questions, but with a few tweaks the questions will become the most powerful catalyst for change in your classroom and school.
The two powerful questions that bring change are:
What do my students need to learn, NOW?
What is the BEST way to get them there?
It is not a continuum, it is very much one or the other but there are two types of teachers. There are the teachers who consider him/herself the most important person in the classroom (teacher-first) and their teachers who consider the learner as the most important person in the classroom (learner-first).
It all has to do with how decisions are made. Are they made on the basis of what is easiest for the teacher, or best for the learner?
In a funny way I guess the very fact that we are called 'teachers' is the first issue here. Hear me out before you judge me! There is a very natural sense that being called a 'teacher' makes us believe that the most import thing we are involved in is teaching. If the most important thing we do is to teach, then it makes sense that we measure our success and effectiveness as a teacher by how well we teach.'
It was a simple concept based on a timeless principle, blessed to be a blessing. The idea for the conference came about last year. In 2015 I became an Apple Distinguished Educator. This was exciting for me, not because of the title or recognition, rather because of the community of exemplary educators and innovative ideas which I would now be immersed in. I could not wait for the opportunity to sit in
the same room with as many like-minded educators as I could and harvest from them what they were doing in their classrooms and schools. The power of conversation. The joy of inspiration.
My Christian upbringing and fundamental belief that we are not here on Earth to live a selfish existence continually leads me to question how we can help others. So, while I could not wait to get everyone together I really hoped we could use this gathering to bless and inspire others.
When did 'So Busy', supersede 'fine' as the stock standard answer to Joey's question, 'How you doing?'
It is as if being 'busy' has become a medal of honour. As if being 'busy' makes us important. As if being 'not busy' is a bad thing. How long has it been since you have heard someone tell you that they are 'so busy'? Worse still when was the last time you told someone about how your life is, 'so busy'?
I have determined that I will try extra hard to never answer anyone with the answer, 'so busy'. Let me share why.
As leaders we make decisions all day every day, and how we spend our time is one of these decisions. Take a few minutes (if you have the time) to consider how this 'so busy' answer is interpreted by those following you. Does it mean; too busy to have this conversation with you? Does it mean I'm out of my depth? Maybe it means I'm not good at managing my time. The reality is that it is never interpreted as a good thing by those who rely on you, those who expect to be lead by you.
If we find ourselves in a place where time management has taken a back seat, and the calendar has imploded with a life of its own, then it is time to recalibrate and decide what are the priorities. If the answer to prioritising is that everything is a priority then it is time to learn about delegation, boundaries and what it means to be human.
“For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven. A time to be born and a time to die. A time to plant and a time to harvest. A time to kill and a time to heal. A time to tear down and a time to build up.” Ecclesiastes 3:1-3 NLT
I have enjoyed and have been challenged by a sermon series that our Church has delivered over the past month. The series, U-Turn, written by our own Ps Mike Griffiths, follows the journey of Ruth and Naomi. It details their ups-and-downs as different seasons come and go through their lives.
The principle of seasons is one that is very relevant in not only our lives but the ‘lives’ of the organisations which we lead. Winter, Spring, Summer and Autumn (Fall) all play a specific part in God’s design for growth and development.
The story of Naomi and Ruth begins in a Winter season. Naomi and her husband Elimelech move to Moab but soon after Elimelech dies. Not only did Naomi lose her husband, but both of her sons also died. This is the beginning of Winter. A season for pruning, cutting off and dying off. Not only did things happen that were out of Naomi’s control, she had to begin a process of cutting and pruning. She gave up on her dream of living in Moab and returned home. (Ruth 1:1-5)
In moving home Naomi did not realise it but she prepared a place that God could begin the transformation. Where God could bring a harvest.