Let’s consider the complex layers of a school:
- A school’s individual demographic and make-up
- A school’s staff (consisting of actual human beings – not robot educators!)
- A national curriculum, setting out what needs to be achieved by certain points
- Leaders who lead the school, all with individual leadership competencies, beliefs, ideals (even if aligned by a common purpose!)
- A parent body of individuals who quite rightly want the best for their children
- National guidance
- Local guidance e.g. from the local authority
- Potential school groups guidance
…and this list is just the beginning. These individual layers make up the very complex nature of schools. And as educators, we navigate these various tenets and try to devise a plan that brings all of these elements seamlessly together- an all-encompassing master plan, akin to the blueprint for the Pyramids of Giza (or what I imagine they would look like!)
Recently we have been faced with an additional challenge- the COVID pandemic. It’s unsurprising therefore, that leaders and educators at all levels, are feeling under pressure around delivering the best possible teaching and learning.
And although these challenges may be multi-faceted and complicated, our core purpose as educators at all levels remains the same- making sure our pupils are getting the best possible deal in terms of teaching and learning in the classroom and more recently outside of the classroom.
I think it’s key to recognise that there is no magic solution, no quick fix and no sure-fire solutions. Schools’ approaches and strategies around delivering on this core purpose will vary depending on what the school and pupils’ need and the varying versions of those ‘layers.’
A colleague of mine once shared this with me: generating high quality outcomes is geology; it comes about slowly over time and with incisive force on the little details that make tangible differences in classroom practice.
So, as we embark on a new half-term and as the nation embarks on a month-long lockdown, let’s maintain our core purpose but also go easy on ourselves as individuals. Let’s park any misguided negativity that comes our way as a profession, turn down the volume on the distractions and focus on a) our core purpose as educators- the pupils’ learning b) what we do best- teaching and c) what is essential to the first two- taking care of ourselves as individuals so we can provide the best for those whom we take care of.