Last week my school had a ‘celebration INSET day’ to reflect on our rapid rise from Special Measures to Outstanding and the key part of the whole day, (even counting the bounteous barbecue and fruity punch!) was the inspirational talk by Sir John Jones. A three times head teacher and genuine educational enthusiast, Sir John reduced many of our teachers to an embarrassing state of happy tears. I’ve titled this post, ‘They will forget most of what we made them think but they will always remember what we made them feel,” and quote from the talk. I will remember the pride and awe that I felt to be a part of this wonderful profession, but I also hope to remember some of the nuggets of wisdom Sir John Jones left us. Here are some of the lessons I interpreted from the talk:
APPRECIATE THIS AMAZING POSITION WE ARE IN TO CREATE CHANGE
So many of the Educational blogs I read and discussions I have had with teachers over the years dwell on the downfalls of being a teacher today. He commented on the stress and work we wade through and the manic ‘teacher walk’ we develop just to be able to fit in a hasty toilet break at lunchtime. Teaching IS difficult. But it is also very rewarding and worthwhile. Sir John told the story of a man who had attended one of his talks where the audience were encouraged to track down a teacher that had changed their lives and thank them. The man searched for this teacher for 6 months before getting his contact details and reluctantly emailing him, saying that he knew the teacher wouldn’t remember him, but he wanted to thank him for inspiring him as a young person. He received an email back saying that of course he remembered him. A few days passed, and the man received a second email, this time from the teacher’s wife showing her appreciation for making the last few days of her husband’s life filled with happy memories of his time teaching and changing lives. We are in an amazing position as teachers.
YOU ARE THE BEST IN THE WORLD AT YOUR JOB: SO YOU KNOW YOU CAN’T KEEP DOING WHAT YOU’RE DOING
This was a quote from a conference at a cutting edge organisation where the staff were at the top of their game. The audience’s reaction to this statement showed that they were the best: they nodded in agreement. I hope that I never feel that I have ‘cracked it’. There is always a better way to do what I am doing.
BE A DOUBLE-LOOP LEARNER
The idea is that we complete an action and get results. When the results aren’t what we were hoping for, we often are tempted to go back to the action (in this diagram this is labelled as goals, values and strategies), then repeat the action again. This is when we try a but harder with what we were already doing and hope that we’ll get a different result. Sir John described this as ‘the definition of insanity’! He said the really courageous way to make changes is the go back to our underlying assumptions and rethink the problem from the beginning.
I’m hoping that I will remember both what Sir John Jones made me realise again about my role as an educator, as well as how he made me feel about this privileged professional.