This time of the year lends itself to reflection, and to looking at what the job that we are doing should look like when it is being done at its most effective; particularly in relation to what we think great teachers are. I’d posit that everyone who works in schools would be able to name at least one teacher from their experience who is a ‘great’ teacher. The attributes of that person (or people) quite often shape what we see as the benchmark to hold ourselves against.
For me, I have always held an ability to listen to students and to let them have their say and opinion as vital skills of a great teacher. This single skill allows for the difference between having education ‘done’ to students, as opposed to students being lifelong learners and intrinsically involved in their own education. It also allows students to be valued and to feel that they have a say, rather than just being passive consumers or second class citizens who are to be seen and not heard. So much of the 21st Century educational paradigm is reliant on students being active participants in their own education, and being listened to – for me – underpins this active participation.
While it might be an American list, this infographic ‘The anatomy of a great teacher’ is a great starting point for what great teachers might look like. What would your great teacher look like?
Schools are nothing if not stable. Change comes slowly, with each new generation of teachers implementing classroom practices that are influenced far more by their own experiences of the classrooms of their youth, than by the lectures of their training. You see; the greatest problem with education is that everyone is automatically an educational expert having been to a school. As school leaders looking to innovate and lead innovation, our role is often as much about teaching teachers (or un-teaching teachers) as it is about the teaching of children.
So why then are standard-issue staff meetings still rows of chairs, endless barrages of administrivia and steady reinforcement of the status-quo in the classrooms of the teachers sitting in those rows? Wouldn’t it be great if we could ‘be the change you seek’ (to steal some Gandhi wisdom) as school leaders and treat our staff meetings more as our classrooms; the teachers as our students (or co-learners)?
There has been much written about the ‘flipped classroom’ debate of late, with this debate even spilling over to the concept of a ‘flipped staffroom‘ . If this kind of educational thinking – right or wrong – is to be the flavour of high performing classrooms, then surely we do our teachers an disservice by not exposing them to that kind of thinking – both in thought, and in deed. In many cases, this requires us to look deeply at the culture of our schools; at the artefacts, the espoused values and the basic underlying assumptions that make our schools tick. Through challenging and shaping these elements – particularly the espoused values and underlying assumptions – it becomes possible to shape the very core of the school, and to help put contemporary educational thinking at the front and centre of every classroom.
With this in mind, I came across this article from Langwitches Blog that got me thinking – ‘are we there yet?’. The last five years at my current school has been a process of digital discovery, and I’d like to think that we’ve come a long way in terms of the way that teachers view teaching in the 21st Century. However, compared to what’s happening in Silvia’s school; we may have come a long way, but we’ve got a long way to go.
So below is my roadmap for the next steps on the journey; I’d love to hear what you think about it, and how it might work in your school.
Take the first right
Currently, we have one x 1 hour meeting once per week. Every fortnight, this meeting is designated for our three faculties to get together with their Heads of Department and discuss curriculum delivery on a more individual scale; the off meeting is a full staff meeting that often ‘does what it says on the box’ and is a meeting of staff to discuss administrivia.
What I would like to do is to remove the administrivia back into our weekly update (a staff newsletter every Monday morning), with the personal elements of this being delivered through informal staffroom chats during the week. Staff meetings can then become opportunities for staff learning, structured as we would expect our highest performing classrooms to be structured and providing an opportunity to model the underlying assumptions that we would like to further embed. Given the way that faculty meetings are an artefact of our school culture, I’d like to keep them every fortnight – giving HODs an opportunity to model elements of the expectations at a more molecular level. Of the other two meetings; one becomes a full staff learning opportunity focusing on elements of our school’s pedagogical framework and explicit teaching agenda. The meeting should be structured like a class, with explicit outcomes and allowing for teaching strategies to be modelled – particularly from the Symphonies of Teaching and Learning agenda that we have subscribed to over recent times.
The other, would be given over to formalised reflection on a range of things – reactions to the full staff meeting, reflection on things that are happening in classes, sharing of fantastic teaching and learning. I’d like to think this was done via blogs or other social reflection platforms, allowing teachers to experience and be explicitly taught the kind of reflection that we expect students to demonstrate as lifelong learners. However, as with any cultural change, that might be a utopian goal that takes time to work towards. In the short term, any kind of tangible evidence of reflection – even recorded staffroom dialogue – would be sufficient return on the investment of an hour back to teachers.
Slight left at the tree
Once we’ve got teachers blogging, sharing and reflecting for professional growth, how cool would it be to be able to get teachers and students both sharing in direct communication with parents? We started two blogs this year on our school website for the Year Level Coordinators to add news a bit more easily and to help add another communication strategy for parents; but if we have blogging starting to be used as a real medium by teachers, and hopefully within classes as well, it would stand to reason that we would be able to start sharing blog posts of what is happening in classrooms directly with parents.
Too often, something happens over the Christmas holidays between the end of Year 7 and start of Year 8 which mean that parents are suddenly not allowed to be involved in school life. Getting parents involved is something that High Schools traditionally struggle with, and while a digital revolution won’t reach every parent – in much the same way as there is a digital divide for some of our students – it allows us another communication medium that might reach some parents that other media do not. Most importantly though, it allows student work and student voice to be directly displayed/communicated to parents and provide a far better insight into what is happening in classrooms – further breaking down some of the generations-old stereotypes that classrooms must be like those that parents of parents once sat in.
While we’re at it, let’s push the paperless agenda yet further by suggesting that classes could have twitter accounts. What better way to teach digital literacy and responsibility than by being actively involved in the management of multiple twitter identities through each Secondary teacher having multiple classes. With the ongoing battle against irresponsible use of social media accounts, and a focus on modelling for teachers what we expect them to do, surely it makes sense that teachers can be modelling expectations for their students; and helping to instil responsible behaviour on social media while they’re at it.
Then straight on ’til morning
Driving change in schools is a process of osmosis; slowly making the extraordinary seem ordinary so that teachers don’t have as far to jump when they cross the classroom threshold. I believe that our job as school leaders is to facilitate this transition from the extraordinary to the ordinary and to demonstrate how the unattainable can become attainable; to turn Neverland into reality. The key really – it seems to me – comes down to remembering that we are teachers first and foremost, and that our role is to teach our teachers through modelling what we expect; through being the change we seek.
Hopefully, by turning our staff meetings into staff learning opportunities, and by providing the gentle nudge teachers need to formalise their reflections and sharing, we can build on the foundations of digital acceptance already in place and really move our school towards being a true learning organisation.
Perhaps one of the most interesting discussions at this afternoon’s Dell Vision session, centred around the ‘Bring Your Own Device/BYOD’ old chestnut. It was interesting both because I found schools who were going down that path, and also to see the response from people who are not. I know it’s a polarising topic, but it never ceases to amaze that the old issues of control are amongst the first to surface.
For those playing at home, BYOD is a debate that has been raging – particularly in the US – around whether or not schools should allow students to bring their own devices and to interact with school networks, rather than be confined to school owned devices. Up until recently (probably this afternoon, to be exact), I’ve been fairly much on the fence; but the conversation this afternoon has pushed me into the pro camp for a few reasons:
- It’s coming regardless – The Horizon report has been flagging BYOD for some time, but it is actually starting to happen with Universities and some schools starting to play in the space, as well as some employers. I know there are issues around security (both data and network), but when the door bell starts ringing we need to at least peek through the peep-hole
- It makes financial sense – In the wake of the eternal ‘bad economy’ rationale, schools are increasingly being asked to do more with less. We don’t necessarily provide pencils to every student (unless they are unable to provide their own, in which case there are options to ensure equity), so why – when technological devices are the 21st Century answer to pencils – should schools be continuing to provide devices that are often less technologically advanced than the devices that the kids have in their pockets or school bags?
- It’s about the pedagogy – This is the most important for me, and the bit of the conversation today that pushed me off the fence. When you don’t have a standardised platform in front of you, you can’t set a PowerPoint presentation as your assessment piece; you can only ask for a presentation and rely on students to express that in the way that best suits the unique combination of task, context and personality. Without the comfort of a standard piece of software, there is the potential that the teacher might not know how to do a particular task in the student’s chosen software package – this also provides the potential for teachers to become learners alongside their students and to teach how to learn. This is surely the utopia that we as edTech pioneers have been searching for – a learning environment where it doesn’t matter what colour your notebook is, so long as you can take the notes; it doesn’t matter what device you use, so long as you complete the task.
There is still a lot of water to go under the bridge before we can do whole-scale BYOD in all classes, and a lot of work to do before we can adequately address the issues around data and network security; but for me, those are the only two issues worth talking about. The majority of the rest of the arguments can be neatly bundled into a bucket labelled ‘fear of lack of control’, which as I’ve discussed previously, we really need to get over.
A great deal of leadership is about ‘getting out of the road’ and ‘letting people get on with it’ – for me, that is one of the biggest differences between management and leadership. Management requires you to be intrinsically involved in the process; the smaller minutia of how ‘stuff’ happens. Leadership, conversely, is what is needed to make management possible; the strategic and forward thinking ‘stuff’ that allows the processes to happen. Clearly, organisations need a good dollop of both to operate effectively in the digital era, and the assembly of a team that encompasses both roles.
Don’t get me wrong – I’m not advocating that leadership is all about delegation by any stretch. Effective leaders need to be able to fill both roles. However this article provided some thinking stimulus as I reflect on my new formal leadership role as a Deputy Principal, rather than the specialist IT Department Head role that I have inhabited for the past four years.
Within this new role I am constantly seeking to not only ensure that I am staying out of my successor’s way and allowing him to redefine the role to suit himself, but also beginning to realise that I need to stay out of peoples way more globally to allow them to grow. It is quite easy to fall into the trap of working on the initiatives that are appealing to me and that I have the skillset to achieve quickly in achieving the outcome, rather than working with my team to ensure that others are learning as well as the outcome being achieved. This may mean that sometimes the project takes longer than I could do it myself, but it also means that it may also get done in a range of ways that I had not anticipated or thought of – that’s where the learning happens for both myself and others.
I have always prided myself on being the ‘go to guy’ who gets stuff done quickly and efficiently (for the most part), particularly where technology integration is the go – what I am starting to realise is that a key part of leadership (rather than just management) is the building of capacity in others to ensure that I am surrounded by ‘go to people’, rather than just getting the job done quickly myself in the way I think it should be done. This may seem inefficient in the short term as this capacity is built, but ultimately one person cannot do everything, and unless I have the team capacity around me to help, it’s doomed to medium/long term failure.
If we are to be serious about achieving ‘learning organisations’ rather than just working in schools that organise learning, we need to look at the way staff are developed. In order for staff to develop, they have to be given the opportunity to try and to fail, and then to try again and fail better – after all, is that not what we advocate for students in the classroom? Why are teachers any different? To do that, I need to learn to back away and to bite my tongue in letting others attempt things in their own way and style – even if it is in a field or area that I think I have all the answers.
One of my favourite podcasts is Chris Betcher’s ‘The Virtual Staffroom’, though the downside of living in a town that’s only 5km from side to side is that you don’t really have much of a commute to catch up on podcasts. I finally got a chance to listen to the first part of episode 38 – Student Voice – early in the year, and sketched out a blog based on my reactions to it. Unfortunately, much like the blog itself, my opportunity to finish the rest of the podcast never came. That is, until travelling home from Cunnamulla on Wednesday when conversations allowed me to plug both myself and @mrssamo into the episode in its entirety.
I’ve often reflected on my own classes, and their fear of publishing their thoughts on blogs. The conclusion that I’ve come to – and was clarified by Chris’ podcast – is that the publishing process (or lack thereof) is the hangup. This process has changed; the importance is now on proofreading and publishing thoughts quickly, rather than editing repeatedly and only publishing when the final product is perfect.
I’ve come to realise that we need to change the way that we look at blogging in classes; as highlighted in the podcast, we need to prioritise blogging in the classroom – explicitly teaching the digital literacies involved as you would any other genre. This gives the opportunity to explicitly teach collaboration, the art of commenting and the modern publishing process itself. The podcast gives some excellent ideas on ways to teach commenting – one of my favourites was the idea of ‘one star’ and ‘two star’ comments; one star comments being comments that don’t really add to the conversation (“Great idea!” “Thanks for that.” etc); two star comments being more in depth. By teaching the students how to recognise one star and two star comments, it is modelling what is needed for good comments and also teaching critical literacy skills.
The new publishing process is all about sharing imperfections, and recognising that knowledge is a moveable feast; an evolving discipline. By publishing first, and editing later, we are modelling this for our students and helping them to recognise that it’s ok to make mistakes – just so long as you learn from them and edit them later.
It was great to finally get to the end of the podcast – the discussions with @mrssamo were equally great, highlighting the way that we could use snippets of podcasts such as this as discussion starters with our collective staff. If you haven’t yet logged on to the Virtual Classroom, do yourself a favour this weekend and check it out! Now to find a way to catch up on the backlog that is still waiting for me…
Cross posted from my employer-provided blog; originally posted May 2011, under the same title.
Ripples, by whologwhy, licenced under Creative Commons
Leadership – it seems – is all about ripples; knowing when to cause them for effect and cognitive dissonance, and how to ride the waves that some ripples caused by others (and ourselves) sometimes become. In a culture of change, I have often reflected in my mind about the benefit of these ripples, for without ripples to challenge the way we’ve always done things, or to move us outside of our comfort zones, the ability to change becomes obscured. But the question for me is how to work within these ripples when they become waves?
Relationships. Leaders must be consummate relationship builders with diverse people and groups. The single factor common to every successful change initiative is that relationships improve. If relationships improve, things get better. If they remain the same or get worse, ground is lost. Effective leaders constantly foster purposeful interaction and problem solving. They are wary of easy consensus. Emotional intelligence is at the core of leaders who are continuously successful in a culture of change.
Sourced from http://www.michaelfullan.ca/resource_assets/ms_annotations/fullan1.htm
This is fantastic thinking, and definitely something to keep in mind when pushing that rock into the water. Another way of looking at the same concept was explained to me by a mentor and friend late last year when he spoke of ‘emotional capital’. This involved the need to ensure that you build sufficient emotional capital within relationships before needing to make a withdrawal of that capital as you introduced a change or initiative that may not be popular with everybody. Without the emotional capital in the bank first, there is a real possibility – almost certainty – that relationships can be damaged and, as Fullan says above, ‘ground is lost’.
But how do we deal with this when we are on the other side of the wave? When you are the one in control of the Emotional Capital Bank – the one pushing the rock – it is often easy to forsee and control the way that relationships may be tested and ensure that you have sufficient capital in place to offset your costs. This is not always the case, and sometimes relationships can suffer, but in the majority of instances you are able to work with and through people to ensure that the capital is in place through involving people in decisions and working for ownership, rather than buy in.
When you are the investor though, subject to the ripples caused by others, this is much harder to control.
Cognitive dissonance – that uncomfortable feeling when your thoughts/beliefs are challenged – is necessary for us to take an objective look at what we believe and the way we do things, in order for us to rationalise new information and incorporate new ways of thinking/doing/being. If ripples slowly wear away at us and cause this dissonance slowly, it is possible to create change without great withdrawals of emotional capital; assuming that people either don’t realise what is happening, or are willing to change.
What I am struggling to understand at the moment, is how do we deal with the cognitive dissonance caused by ripple s we know through experience or deep-rooted belief to be counter productive and superseded. When other leaders hold views that are very different to our own, we have the opportunity to learn from each other and to rationalise the two ways of approaching the world into a shared understanding of how the world works. When this rationalisation process is only one way though, the ripples can turn into dumpers. How we rebuild our thought processes and reinvest in the emotional capital after such emotional economic downturns would seem to be the key; an exercise in rebuilding consumer confidence.
So how do we go about this? Through rebranding? Through apologies to the press? That may be easier for corporate entities, however perhaps the metaphor is going too far. What would seem to be needed is for both parties to take stock and to recognise their part in the process, rather than blindly assuming that the cognitive dissonance process proved that the others views were invalid. This becomes difficult though, when communication channels become strained and it would seem one party is willing to do this, while the other does not appear so. While soever one of the two parties maintains the belief that they are trying to change their approach, while not being willing to listen or share with the other, the ripples will turn into tsunamis and tear the working relationship apart.
The leadership message in all of this would seem to be that effective leaders need to always be aware of not only their footprint on others, but also the footprint made by others; lest the footprint become a bootprint and the weather makes surfing the ripples unsafe.
Over the years, I have taken a fair bit of time to put together a range of tools that ultimately save me time. A classic example is the electronic markbook and roll setup that has grown from a simple Excel spreadsheet into an all-in-one solution that has ebbed and flowed over the years. Every time I’ve spent an hour or so working on a problem to turn a two minute job into a one minute job, I’ve endured withering criticism from friends and family alike – and I probably can’t argue too much…
However – at the end of the day – that one minute that I shaved off a task I undertook four times a day, saved me much more than the hour or so I took to design the fix in the first place. That’s where the real revelation is – playing with productivity can actually be productive!
I came home this afternoon aiming to get a lot of work done; instead, I came across ‘Remember the Milk’ in a post from Stepcase Lifehack. This cloud-based task management system looks to have the potential to solve a lot of problems for me. It will integrate and sync with Outlook, allow me access to my to-do list across devices, and ultimately help me to remember those jobs that I think of at midnight and try to scrawl on the back of my hand for action the next morning. While all of this sounds great, it took a little bit of research before I decided to give it a burl, and then a minimal amount of setting up. All in all, maybe 30 minutes out of my working time this afternoon.
While I was playing with productivity tools, I figured it was also a good time to play with a couple of other things I’ve been meaning to get to. So I decided to take the plunge with Buffer; a tool that allows me to schedule articles/links to be tweeted out at regular intervals, rather than me flooding the tweetstream when I get to checking out my Read-it-later backlog. That meant I then had to play with getting the system right – using Ifttt to automagically add my Read-it-later read items to the Buffer; adding a button to my iPad Safari to allow me to add links to the buffer that way too. Another hour or so ‘wasted’.
But is it really ‘wasted time’? Or is it an investment in the future? When I first became a Head of Department, the first question I asked anyone who had been in the position for a while was “how do you manage to get so much done?!”. Generally, people couldn’t answer me in a few words – I now understand that the reason they couldn’t answer me was because their secret had been honed through the half-hour here/half-hour there investments in getting their productivity workflow working well. I am incredibly lucky to be a young leader at a point in time where productivity management is being enhanced every day by technology – my challenge though, is to filter the seemingly endless sea of productivity tools for the ones that are truly worth the investment of time in order to gain in the long run.
I have to admit – even I find this blog title cryptic. That said though, the idea that underpins it would seem to provide an awesome way to encourage self-directed learning both within the classroom, and as part of a wider school change movement. We’ve all read the research from gurus such as Fullan, Robinson and Hattie that suggests people learn and perform better when they are able to work within their Element and exercise their passions. The concept of “FedEx Days” seems to capture this notion and allow people to release their creative juices from behind the dam walls that often contain them in traditional classrooms and schools.
I first learnt about FedEx Days from a Stepcase Lifehack article about Supercharging Team Productivity. In the article, it holds up Sydney IT company Atlassian’s concept of FedEx days – 24hrs each month for team members to work on any project they like, before pitching their project and being recognised for their creativity – as productivity best practice. Happening to have a great mate who works for Atlassian, I grilled him about the idea and we both came to the conclusion that the concept could easily be transferred to the classroom.
How amazing the potential for FedEx lessons could be? In my high school setting, we typically teach each of our five classes for three x 70 minute lessons each week. So imagine the potential outcomes that could arise from turning an English class loose for one of those lessons every few weeks to work on whatever English-related passion they held? A unit on Shakespeare could spark a FedEx lesson that yielded a Txt:Shakespeare dictionary, or spawned an examination of bear fight statistics from the Summer of 1583. A HPE anatomy unit could see an interpretive dance explaining the digestive system, or an examination of the way that music can stimulate certain areas of hair growth. The opportunities are endless! And yes; I know it sounds a lot like negotiated assessment – but is that such a bad thing? Same outcome, different name and slightly different approach that allows for both a more structured learning environment, and the opportunity to let your hair down and just explore your own learning passion!
So the FedEx lesson might go something like: brainstorming your project; creating/designing/’speccing’ it out (read: exploring the topic in an authentic way that is individually meaningful); pitching your project to the class; evaluating projects for innovation and learning through peer and individual reflection. How does that score, for those playing buzzword bingo? But seriously; how many of the things that we are striving to achieve in classrooms does that process tick off?
But wait! There’s more!
At a whole school level; imagine the power of allowing teachers to work on that unit plan idea they’ve been dreaming of but never had the opportunity to teach? Or even just allowing them to explore an area of another subject area that interests them, looking for opportunities to embed cross-curricular ideas? Again; the brainstorm/create/pitch/evaluate cycle could work wonders for sparking reflection and reigniting the passion for lifelong learning that resides somewhere (sometimes a little more hidden, or visible) within every teacher.
How could you FedEx your classroom? Your faculty? Your school? Your cluster!? The opportunities seem endless…
There has been a lot written about the whole Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) debate over recent months (or longer), and I have to admit that a lot of what has been written on both sides has been convincing in its own way. Interestingly, it was actually a comment on an article (read opinion blog) written by Lisa Nielsen – “7 Myths About BYOD Debunked” – that helped to solidify some thinking on my part.
While the article is largely personal opinion – as most blogs are – there is obviously a lot of thought and personal experience underpinning the opinion. For me, the biggest issues with BYOD are around the digital divide that may or may not be reinforced by relying on students to bring devices when they are often flat bringing a pencil. That said though, it is the students who often lack pencils that have devices in trumps; and it is these digital devices that live in the student’s pockets/hands/minds that they are clearly most comfortable with.
The comment that got me thinking was a fairly scathing attack on the article, highlighting that BYOD is clearly pie in the sky and fundamentally unworkable. Citing lines that could easily have come from an argument with teachers as to “why this new fangled data projector was a waste of space when I’ve got my good old chalk board”, the comment focused on the fear behind BYOD – a fear that I have to confess to harbouring at times when I think of the letting go of another layer of control in my classroom.
However, while this fear is understandable, as I have blogged before – it is more about the possibilities for students than the control for teachers. The flip side of the comment’s argument is that good pedagogical practice should be possible regardless of the device/system/program – if we are aiming for ‘anywhere, anytime’ learning, then using student devices (that they are comfortable with and use every day) means that we are able to engage more in the pedagogy and higher order thinking, than the ‘this is how you use THIS particular device/system/program’.
I’m sure that BYOD has a lot of cons, and a long way to go in debate yet – but right now, I am caught as to which side of the debate that I support, but can feel the tides of optimism dragging me away from the perceived safe harbour of school controlled devices; even in a student controlled classroom.
Over the course of this year, I’ve had the opportunity to help out at the local Primary school in an Acting Principal capacity for a few days here and there. I’ve always enjoyed my time down here – I’m currently on the second of a two day stint – and just love the atmosphere of the Primary classroom. To walk into any given room and have “Good Morn-ing Mis-ter Mc-Cor-mack” (or a variation on the pronunciation, depending on year level) belted out, and to sit in the back of the room and watch the active involvement of the kids in their own learning, their creativity and their quest for development; it leaves a smile on my face the whole time.
But then I go back to the High School (where I’m not so afraid that I’ll accidentally stand on a little person – don’t get me wrong; I love to visit the primaries, but I’m much happier back in the real world…) and just have to wonder; what happens to those kids at the end of year 7?
Yesterday, I sat in on a 6/7 class and spoke to some excited students about what next year holds for them at our place – the opportunities and the great things that are going to happen in classrooms. This discussion is not unlike discussions I’ve had with previous groups of year 7s during transition programs, and yet I find myself cynically thinking that the magical process that seemingly takes place every year, will happen again over this Christmas break. First day of year 8, those wonderful year 7s that I sat with yesterday will have turned into year 8s, and that passion and intrinsic quest for knowledge will be quashed in many of them; even before they sit in a year 8 classroom.
So how can I expect my teachers to fight a battle for the hearts and minds of year 8 students, if the battle is seemingly lost over the Christmas holidays? How can this switch be suddenly flicked; transforming the involved, creative and passionate young learners I have worked with in classrooms from Prep to Year 7, into year 8 students (and beyond) with (for the most part) little interest or passion in their own learning? The general attitude each year seems to be that the engaging learning opportunities teachers are enabling for them to be self-directed learners in charge of their own destiny, is “<<insert derogatory, generation specific word here>>”. This attitude surely can’t materialise overnight. Yet despite the mountainous effort my teachers put into their learning environments and curriculum endeavours, the attitude of many students persists.
I just wish I could capture the passion of the young people in Prep or grade 1, and administer regular doses of it back to them in the secondary school to help inspire that same quest for knowledge in grade 8 and beyond.
Just this morning, watching year 1/2 students striving to come up with words that started with the ‘sn’ sound – the creativity and competition and genuine want to learn that was evident in the sea of raised hands straining for attention was awe inspiring. Even the kids who were way off were keen to have a go regardless, and took the “not quite, but good try though” of their teacher in the spirit it was intended; and not as a condemnation of failure. The colourful and engaging classroom environment was not unlike many of our secondary classrooms – seemingly the only thing different was the height of the chairs (I still can’t get used to the mini furniture… so far to get up!) and that undeniable passion.
Perhaps there is a direct correlation between the height of the furniture and the passion displayed by students? Is THIS the reason Peter Pan grew up; he started sitting on big chairs?