This past August and September, I experienced a different start to the school year: after 4 years of being on detachment to the Ministry of Education, I have resumed my duties as a school principal. And what a wonderful school it is!
The annual return to the classroom for a school team can be similar, and may even seem repetitive: a few visits to school in August to prepare, followed by a professional development day, and then welcoming students back on the first day of the school year.
Data analysis is a common activity that schools undertake at the beginning of the year. And rightly so: this analysis allows us to identify strengths and challenges, both in terms of student learning and pedagogy. This allow us to set goals and implement strategies to measure and celebrate progress in order to improve student achievement as well as our teaching craft. The beginning of the school year is also a time of reunions, and often introductions to new staff and students.
We have also been talking about well-being in our schools. We are asking questions such as: “Are the students well?”, or “Are all members of staff in a good place?” Not being well either physically or in terms of growth mindset has a major impact on our performance, how we function as a team, and our level of influence within the role we play in school.
Having said this, school leaders, this question is for you:
During the first days that our colleagues enter the school:
- Are we talking about well-being?
- Do we organize activities that can support the well-being of our colleagues?
- Are we putting in place a process, a way of doing things all year long to give us opportunities to talk to each other, to support each other?
- What will we do during the school year to ensure that people are growing personally and professionally?
During our first professional development day, we really put the emphasis on well-being. We did some great activities together and had a lot of fun: opportunities to learn from each other, share our best moments of the summer, laugh, and reflect together on our individual growth, and how our team would grow during the course of the year. We really dug into our WHY and came back to our roots to identify what are the most important elements for us in relation to our school.
I was very proud of the fact that through conversations, we were able to remind ourselves that although our WHY is very important, our WHO is what we really need to continuously foster.
Lets remember that at the heart of all in-depth learning is a healthy relationship that has been developed – both the teacher / student relationship and the colleague / colleague relationship.
At the heart of WHY, we find WHO.