It has just been Christmas for many people. Even if you don’t subscribe to particular religious groups, you can’t help avoiding it. Supermarkets and shopping centres have been advertising its arrival pretty much since Easter.
Regardless of what the end of the calendar year means to you, the vast majority of us would probably take some time to look back on what we have done, what we have experienced and, I’d like to argue, we should also look at what we have given.
The giving of gifts is something common to almost every cultural, social and ethnic group in the world. Whether you expect something back or not, the act of giving something is critically important in education. We forget how much of what we do is based on good will: the conversation in the hallway on the way to a lesson, the support for the school musical, the shoulder to cry on… things that certainly aren’t in a job description and cannot and should not seek to be measured against standards or tests.
So what gifts have you given that benefit teaching and learning at your school this year? Have they been merely “solutions” that help cross the Ts and dot the Is or get someone off your back? Or have you managed – from time to time – to give people a gift that keeps on giving.
For example, have you trained someone in a new process or technology or practice and asked them to pass that learning on to others? Has an innovation or a change you have shepherded in been of benefit to more than a few champions who would follow you anywhere? Have you managed to build in a more open mindset that has led to interesting and different opportunities?
If not, why do you think our gifts sometimes have a limited life? Is something stopping it? Is something preventing the spread of new ideas and processes? Is it a matter of showing evidence or persuading people? Is it the case that one person’s gift is another’s curse?
In my case, despite shepherding in several big changes at my school (new administration system, Learning Management System [LMS], BYOD, iPads, digital textbooks to name the major ones) it has often come down to support. Teachers need it. Students need it. They do undersell their own ability to learn but in the heat of a busy week, term, or year, it is clear that most people do need constant and ongoing support and affirmation from their peers and from eLearning people such as us that they are, in fact, using their own gifts as well as any that might land in their lap(top) from us.
So now is the time to celebrate: what gifts have you given this year? What gifts have you received? What have colleagues, students, parents, management and others done with those gifts and of which are you the most proud? Affirm others, and don’t forget to affirm yourself.
Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and a Happy New Year.
image courtesy of https://www.flickr.com/photos/kalexanderson/6314293495