I believe the most important quality that should exist within schools, and indeed all organisation’s, is respect. Included are:
*Respectful relations bertween school leaders and members of staff.
*Respectful relations between all staff and students.
*Respectful relations between all students.
*Respectful relations between staff, students and parents.
*Respectful relationships that are the warp, weft and harmonious accord embracing school and community.
Respect … So necessary and so often poorly recognised and considered.
It often seems that educationists are always looking to the future. It’s all about pushing, changing, re-aligning, re-defining, re-prioritising, planning, implementing, evaluating and so on. It is always about looking forward, usually impatiently.
No-one it seems, wants to pause and reflect. Few consider school or system development in terms of where we have come from to be where we are at the present moment.
This futurist bent means that that the far, far away tomorrow’s are the days that count. There is today, there was yesterday. Before that, to all intents and purposes, there was nothing. Historically, we peer into the rear vision mirror of schools and systems at what is essentially a blank page.
We need to reflect upon aned appreciate our history. Our present and future needs to be informed and shaped by past priorities and lessons learned.
Our schools and systems educators and support staff need to record educational history. They wrong the present and possibly distort the future by failing in this task.
Consider the following. As teachers and leaders, our voices are our most significant asset. Don’t mute that talent.
* Vocal qualities. VOICE IS YOUR MAJOR WORKING TOOL
* Speech flow, including pitch, rhythm and speed.
* ‘Ah’s’, ‘um’s’, ‘er’s’, ‘aw’s’, and other speech fillers.
* Recognising and using punctuation.
* PRONUNCIATION and word usage
* A CONVERSATIONAL VOICE is engaging. A listening audience is reassured to hear program presenters speaking in a relaxed manner. Many listeners are working through the hassles of the day. A calm and relaxed manner coming at them over the airwaves is relaxing and reassuring.
* USING PAUSE, allowing your audience time to digest and reflect on what you have said.
* PROJECTION and outreach, avoiding ear burst and fade-out, which imposes ear strain.
My observations over the years confirms the importance of space for children. Those blessed with the chance to attend schools where there is space to play do not know how lucky they are.
Green grass, trees and ovals make a difference. Those who are crammed into classrooms and buildings with little adjoining space miss out desperately.
Environments cannot always be controlled. Space is available only where there is space. Educators and school administrators would be well advised to make cribbing on space for the sake of building and amenity expansion, their last priority.
Once lost, a space is gone forever.
The last weeks of Semester offer students, teachers and school communities the chance to enjoy activities that can be overlooked. For many schools these weeks allow celebrations that go beyond academics. This is a period that allows for some quiet reflection on the year to date. It provides a chance for students and staff to participate in some of the more non-academic but vital pursuits associated with school experiences. Activities that help build school spirit and camaraderie can include the following.
Major assemblies featuring class performances.
Dry season concerts, often held outside at night.
End of semester school discos.
Overseas exchanges with sister schools.
Intra school athletics carnivals .
Shared sporting and cultural activities between schools.
School community breakfasts.
Open days and school fetes.
The focus on academics and assessment programs, poses a danger that these respite times and activities can be put on the back-burner or overlooked altogether. Including these activities provides balance for students. They should be included in school calendars.
The social and emotional aspects of student development are supported by these and similar activities. They offer children a chance to relax and recognise non classroom abilities in each other.
Is a graduate teacher ready to teach? I always determined this by asking (of myself) two people questions.
My two questions were always these:
1. Would I as a school principal appreciate and value you as a member of my staff?
2. Would I as a parent of school aged children feel confident in having you as their classroom teacher?
If the answer to both these questions is a quite resounding ‘yes’, the teacher is ready to teach. Welcome to your classroom.
It is both sad and worrisome that at times we Balkanise ourselves. That may be unintentional, being an outcome or product of unintentional attitude. Distance grows from being remote or aloof when associating with colleagues and students.
One’s identity is important, but any siloing of oneself, is distancing from fellow staff and students. That does nothing for effectiveness as a teacher because it is essential that close collegiate links are in place. It is the professional personality in relations that validates efforts, for this builds respect.
I am not for one minute suggesting fraternisation. This of itself can lead to a diminishment of professional character. However, effectiveness as a teacher means that knowing and working with students (and colleagues) in respectful professional (and teaching/learning) togetherness, is a winning strategy.
Know and respect colleagues and students.