First blogged for MidKent College in December 2011
In which Steven talks about the importance of the women in his life, quotes teaching theory, touches upon Anglo-Saxon concepts of personal destiny and fails to get to the end of the story he started last week.
I’d like to apologise if any teaching theory does get quoted – I did advise against it. Editor
I was a governor at a primary school. How did that happen? Editor
I have a contact routine. Is that the answer to a completely different question? Editor
What I mean is that I set aside a particular time when I will go send emails, tweets, Facebook messeges and texts (never actual calls? Editor) to friends, colleagues, people I vaguly know but have their contact details of, and I’ll say hi, ask them how they are doing and (re)initiate conversation(s). Sometimes they are casual chats, sometimes deep and meaningful, occasionally they are even informative.
Outside of anybody called Step(v)hen, the conversations that have made the most impact on me at MidKent College have been with women. A variety of intelligent, funny, experienced women. Ladies who I can talk to, discuss thoughts and ideas with, who will be supportive, who will pretend to be interested and aren’t afraid to call ‘rubbish’ ‘rubbish’. Sorry Steven, I can’t let you use the word you wanted to here. Editor
And I’m lucky and enriched for it.
The College has, I’m told, a common meeting slot. How much time to you spend talking with your colleagues? What about those not in your department?
What percentage of the time talking do you spend on:
> The College
> The course
> The students
How much of that chat is productive? And never underestimate, the importance of a good vent, rant, tirade, from time to time. You’ve just used three words that mean the same thing. Editor
But where does that lead you? Do you come to any solutions? Do you follow the ideas up? Do you share them?
Or do you vent and return to the Wall?
‘If you always do, what you’ve always done,
You’ll always get what you’ve always got.’
How much time do you spend talking about you?
> Your weekend
> Holiday plans
> Television viewing habits
How much time do you spend talking about you?
> Your goals
> Your aspirations
> Your desires
Through Personal self-reflection, we become aware of the paradigmatic assumptions and instinctive reasonings that frame how we work.
When we know what these are, we can start to test their accuracy and validity through conversations
We don’t reflect on ourselves, on our teaching. And we aren’t encouraged enough to either. Sure there is lip service provided to it after teacher training, but at best it becomes a solitary experience.
Breaking this vicious circle of innocence and blame is one reason why the habit of critical reflection is crucial for teachers’ survival. Without a critically reflective stance towards what we do we tend to accept the blame for problems that are not of our own making.
We read poor evaluations of our teaching immediately conclude that we are hopeless failures.
A critically reflective stance towards our teaching helps us avoid these traps of demoralization and self-laceration. It might not win us easy promotion or bring us lots of friends. But it does increase enormously the chances that we will survive in the classroom with enough energy and sense of purpose to have some real effect on those we teach.
If you agree/disagree then leave a comment. Editor
I am very fortunate to be surrounded by smart women, who havent (yet) worked out how to get rid of me. And we talk. And to ensure this I have set aside time in my calender every week for this. Because it’s important. They are important, their knowledge, opinion, perspective. My aspirations, plans and targets are better for their insight.
Until at least they grow tired of me. (Such low self esteem. Editor)
Two years ago flush with relative success. (Runner-up best new teacher? Editor) I started having these conversations, because I had ideas. Ideas above my station, experience, pay grade. And last year I did very little about them, I was busy. But that’s another story.
This year I was keen to pick up these projects.
Are you going to explain what they are? Editor
Keen because I believed that these ideas and projects could improve… stuff. Keen because I am a naïve fool. Keen because I didn’t want to become known as somebody that talks a good game, but never actually achieves anything.
So for me it’s important to have a contact routine. Set times. And to keep track of how long it’s been and how it’s going. It’s important, so very important, to be surrounded by like minded people.
And in this regard, I’ve been very fortunate.
There is an Anglo-Saxon term; ‘Wyrd’. Considered by some to be the personification of fate. This is something I’ll come back to in a later blog, but it was best described to me as:
‘The more you try to achieve, the more people will arrive to help you.’
I was chatting to Vanessa in the Inspiration Station, as I do every other Monday, from 9.15 til 10.15(ish). I took with me a job ad. If I was to apply for this job (which I wasn’t), what skills and experience would I need? Vanessa was great, the job played into her experience, into her MA (who knew she had an MA?). She said I should speak to Lesley Mayo, in School Partnerships, as I need more experience with community work.
And so I did…
To be continued.
Dedicated to Carol, Emma, Jo, Louise, Lesley, Lucy, Lydia, Rosie, Sue, Vanessa