I set myself the challenge of motivating colleagues to embrace change just when things look pretty good, it is a theory that I understand a number of sporting teams use. I read somewhere the “The paradox of success, that what got you where you are, won’t keep you where you are, is a hard lesson to learn.”
I have been trying to express the case for all of us to improve our teaching. Jonah Lehrer says in his book Imagine, the answer to any problem is incredibly obvious…we curse ourselves for not seeing it sooner. It’s for my colleagues, but it could be for any school, anywhere.
John Wooden of the UCLA Bruins who says: Perform at your best when your best is required. Your best is required every day.
This also makes me think of Pete Carroll’s philosophy “Always Compete.” To Carroll, competition doesn’t really mean beating an opponent or a teammate. Instead, competition, to Carroll, involves the constant (the “always” part of the expression) pursuit, characterized by scrapping and clawing, to get better and eventually to reach one’s highest potential. As teachers or even people this philosophy is brilliant.
If we are honest, we have always known that only at least good teaching is good enough for our students.
I take it as a given that every single one of us wants to become a better teacher; indeed, to become a truly great school we will all need to become better teachers, every single one of us. I am not asking us to work harder in terms of volume of work, but to work harder at becoming better at what we do in the classroom. I am asking every single one of us to be at least a good teacher and the majority of us to be great teachers.
The other barrier to colleagues opening themselves up to improving their practice is accountability, but as professionals accountability is something we have to accept – as long as we know what is expected then we can eradicate the fear inherent in any accountability system. I want to work in a no-surprises culture. I want to catch colleagues doing good things and praise them, not catch them out.
All SLT should have the same thing in mind as we start the new academic year. Do you?