We often don’t take the time to stop, pause and appreciate the positive moments we experience. Last Friday afternoon, I was covering a Prep class at the end of the day. We were all packed up and ready for home with just a few minutes to spare. Instead of rushing out the door to the parents, we sat back down on the carpet together and answered one simple question…
What was one thing that made you happy this week?
What was remarkable was that every boy identified something different from literacy groups to outdoor play, read alouds, excursions, learning new mathematical concepts. Every time a boy was called upon to speak, his eyes lit up with excitement about being able to share their happy moments.
As educators, we often are rushing to the next meeting or marking an assignment or planning for the next lesson or making a phone call to parents. It’s a busy job. But perhaps we need to take those few moments at the end of the week or day or lesson and think about opportunities to share our gratitude and positive moments.
Today, it was seeing the Year 3s belt out their musical song and dance at their last rehearsal before we move into the theatre with smiles on their faces. Another moment was the 8am start on duty with a Prep student and his Year 2 brother running across the oval so they could say hello while waving frantically.
So take a moment...
What made you happy today?
Different situations provide us the opportunity to stop and reflect on who we are as educators, what we believe in and what we want for our students.
This is what I believe in...
Positive Approaches to Leading
Cultivating a Community of Caring
Little moments make a difference. Simply put, it doesn't have to be the grand gestures that make people feel valued but rather the ongoing small positive actions that cultivate a culture of care.
Say Thank You
Educators put themselves fully into their roles. Whether it's spending long hours making lesson plans or preparing meetings, events and interviews, it is important to stop and acknowledge their great work. A quick thank you shows others you care and appreciate their efforts and the things they do to make your life easier or better. Hearing a thank you from someone helps you feel valued within the school community and you are more likely to offer your assitance again. Say thank you to those who hold the door for you or take on an extra yard duty when someone is sick or share a great idea or book with you. Expressing gratitude shows appreciation towards others and returns their kindness back to them.
Send a Card
One of the things I have done this year is ensure I send a birthday card to each staff member. I add all birthdays into my calendar at the start of each year to ensure I don't miss anyone and then each week spend a few minutes hand-writing a note wishing my colleagues a wonderful year ahead on their birthday. It is something I picked up from a previous principal who used to message staff on their birthdays. It always meant a lot to me that he had taken the time to send a greeting.
We've also distributed cards (and a little treat) to wish our teaching staff good luck at the start of the year. By starting the year on with a positive note (literally and figuratively), it can help to shape the direction of the culture of care.
Get Personal, Ask & Listen
Communities are built on relationships. The stronger the rapport, the strong the relationships. In our professional lives, we need to make time for the 'personal' and remember the human element within our roles. Spend time asking colleagues about their weekends, their children and their interests. Remember to stop and truly engage in the converations by listening rather than feeling obliged to return with an answer. Rather, just listen and appreciate your colleague sharing with you.
Acknowledge a Job Well Done
Whether it's telling someone they've presented an amazing assembly to congratulating someone on completing a c,ourse, telling someone their accomplishments are visible and recognised provides them with the acknowledgement and reassurance of their work. An authentic and honest compliment can go a long way to build rapport and community.
"Use your smile to change the world. Don't let the world change your smile"
A smile is contagious. When others see you smile, it is hard to resist smiling back. The more you smile, the more others around you smile. A smile and a positive attitude can leave a lasting impact on others. It also positively impacts your own life by boosting your mood and reducing stress levels.
Make Things Fun
Just because it's called 'work' doesn't mean you can't enjoy yourself while doing it. Find little moments in the day to excite youself amongst the marking and paperwork. Stop and chat to children on the playground and hear about the world through their eyes, visit the early year classes and get down to their levels or find a way to express yourself creatively through an artistic medium.
Explore ways to make certain parts of your job more enjoyable. One way we've done this with our staff meetings is by beginning with five minutes of fun - some kind of simple, yet fun activity to bring laughter and smiles across the room before getting ibto the operational components of the meeting.
Find the Good
Above all, find the positive in every situation. Explore ways to learn and grow. Laugh at your mistakes. Challenge your thinking and celebrate the small wins along the way. Being positive can have a profound impact on those around you. Not every day is going to be perfect, but it positivity can be present.
It is with great delight that I am able to share the relaunch of my website. While living in Singapore, my blog and website afforded me a platform to reflect and document my current practice, values and beliefs about education as a classroom teacher and education technology coach in an international school. While engaging in continuous education for my Masters of Education (Information Technology) & Masters of Education (Educational Leadership), it allowed me to reflect from more of a theoretical perspective on current best practices in education locally and globally.
Over the past year, I have experienced a multitude of situations where 'Courageous Change' was necessary from moving countries (then cities) to changing schools and changing professional roles. These opportunities have continued to shape who I am as an individual personally and professionally. It is my hope that this website can once again be a source of comtemplation and sharing with a focus on teaching, learning, leading and caring.