One month of school has passed and I am now getting a little better at the flow of my school; understanding the bell schedule, the tutorial time and the needs of both the teachers and the students. One of the most important routines I have created is reading different educational resources over my weekends (making sure that I have time for reflection and rest). I began with Todd Whittaker’s Shifting the Monkey on creating safe and better environments for good people to thrive (and good teachers to excel). I moved to Mind, Brain & Eduction, a compilation of the best and newest research on the brain and how it connects to what we know about education and the development of learner’s acquisition of understanding.
Then I found Why School (by Will Richardson) and a turning point occurred: I began to tweet passages that I highlighted to the world, and the world responded. Well, actually, only the educational twitter world, but it was quite exhilarating. I engaged in a twitter book chat, which lead me to Whitaker’s What Great Principals Do Differently, Merchant’s 11 Rules for Creating Value in the #SocialEra, Tough’s How Children Succeed and Gabriel and Farmer’s Dealing with the Tough Stuff.
What I understood from this professional development was not the books or the content, it was the conversations with a wider group. I was never one for book clubs, but to be able to tweet about something and get responses back allowed me to understand the concepts much more broadly and deeper. The key to all of this was: Relationships Matter. It didn’t seem to be mentioned just once in one book. It was everywhere. The building, maintaining and sustaining positive relationships is the key to creating a stong learning environment. for all learners.
This past week, relationships building has been at the forefront of my workday. I have had some success and some unsuccessful attempts at this. It takes time, but at the end of the day, the relationships we build help create the foundation and glue to create a strong learning environment.
So, despite all my reading and understanding around relationships, it really came down to situations and time. I have set up meeting with the entire mathematics department to talk individually about what they are doing in their classes in a supportive way. Listening to what the great things happening and supporting them is one way that I hope to continue to build on those relationships.
My next reading is Nikhil Goyal’s One Size Does Not Fit All. Nikhil is a seventeen year old student that was brought to my attention through twitter. People were talking about him in such a way, that I felt I needed to read what he had to say…..I will probably tweet about it.