Teaching is one of the most relentless jobs you can do; planning, delivering, marking, duties, meetings, counselling, mediating, data entry, first aiding… have I missed anything?
It's is a job that you can never finish, there is always something else to do. You could make more resources, you could amend that scheme of work, you could do that bit of extra reading to expand your subject knowledge or develop your pedagogy, yet because of the relentlessness of the job how often do we get to take a step back and truly consider why we are doing things?
Despite teachers being some of the most reflective practitioners I have ever met, quite often we simply do not have the time, or allow ourselves the time, for meaningful reflection on how we run our schools and classrooms, until recently that is.
One of my life mantras is to always try to look for the positives in every situation. The Covid-19 pandemic has challenged that mantra more than most things I have experienced in my life and yet, since September and the schools in the UK beginning to fully re-open, I have seen some positives coming from the lockdown period.
There is an opportunity for schools to reset and question things such as how they can be improved along with the rules and routines which have been in place for years, there because “it’s how we've always done things".
Being challenged by Covid-19 has allowed us to reflect on the important question of why we are doing something.
Many schools I have visited and spoken to have spoken very positively about how young people have responded to the changes and new routines that have been put in place. These have ranged from Key Stage 3 classes being taught in a primary model with teachers moving to them, rather than the pupils moving, staggered breaks, lunches, starts and finishes to days, one-way systems, increased virtual teaching and shorter school days. I even witnessed one school where teachers had entrance music for when they entered a classroom.
I’m sure you are all aware of Sinek’s Golden Circle and maybe read his book Start with Why. It explores how organisations are most effective when they focus on why they are doing something, not how or what they are doing.
I genuinely believe that Covid-19 has created a situation in which schools have had to focus on the 'why' and then passed this onto the staff and pupils. Everyone has had a renewed sense of purpose, clearly set out for a obvious set of reasons, and because of that purpose they have been relentless in the enforcement of these new routines and expectations.
People have had a real clarity of vision and expectation and have therefore been able to enforce expectations and routines more effectively because of it.
So as we hopefully move out of Covid times, with a vaccine within sight and a potential return to a more recognisable way of life, I hope that we as educators do not forget the positives we can bring to education under Covid parameters.
Let's reflect on expectations and routines which have been brought in. Are they better than what we had before? Have we enforced them better by considering the why rather than the how or what and how can we improve them further?
Let's not slip back into doing what we did before, just because it is what we have always done, and let's take some positives from the most difficult calendar year of teaching schools have experienced in a generation.