Last week, I joined over 500 administrators, teachers and support staff for an opening gathering in my new school district where we were treated to a wonderful day with David Wells, the Co-Director of the Department of Formation with the Plymouth Diocese in Southwest England.
Among other things, David reminded us of the importance of relationship, understanding, and hope as we begin another year with our students. “One day”, he said, “Each of us will realize that the little things in life were the big things.” His message challenged the notion that education is a linear process and that the children in front of us can be bulk processed through the system. Instead, he spent the day sharing inspiring stories about what we already know, that our work in schools is all about the people – not the stuff.
Three statements made by David really resonated with me and I encourage anyone involved in a child’s education to reflect on them before things get too busy this year. I’ve included some questions that might assist you with the process.
“If you want to teach children, make sure you listen to their music.”
- Do I make an effort to get to know my students and their families on a personal level?
- Is my classroom a welcoming place for children from all cultural and socio-economic backgrounds?
- How often do I give my students a voice in their learning?
- Am I trying to engage my students in a way that is relevant to them?
“The children in front of you are far more interested in you than they are in what you teach.”
- Have I shared my own story with my students?
- Do I apologize to my students when I should?
- Do I laugh with my students on a regular basis?
- Are my students comfortable coming to me for help, with school work and on a personal level?
“The most important things you do are not testable, measurable or recordable.“
- Do I encourage my students to explore their own passions?
- Have I built a classroom environment where students can take risks, fail, and then try again?
- Am I acutely aware of my students’ basic personal needs?
- Are my students given opportunities to collaborate, be creative, and think critically?
It’s too bad the current culture of education is fixed so heavily on results. I think we get lost in our work at times and forget that the process of learning is far more important than the product of learning. It is in the process where lasting learning really takes place. This year, as we come face to face with our students let’s remember these powerful words by David Wells.