People first… then everything else

I love change. And I have fallen for Africa, hard. Let me tell you why. Change offers something different and as international educators we are very fortunate to be in an occupation where the door is a revolving one, for those who don’t get stuck and you know who you are.

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Moving from Thailand to Kenya was always going to be different – one of the main reasons I came here. The warmth of Africa is immediate. Being the ‘new teacher’ you always wonder who it is you are going to be working with. Who are the ones that I will mostly connect with or will form an alliance with? I have finally arrived at a school that values people. People first. The first two days were very different to what I have experienced. The whole teaching staff (Secondary and Junior School) went on an overnight trip together. Why? It’s simple to bond and connect. I know this sounds very obvious and a lot of schools do it in their own way, but this felt very different for reasons I am still trying to make sense of.

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The school offered the space for us to be together. The staff made the effort and time to speak, really listen and connect. We played games, sat around the fire and sang songs, danced, told stories. We went hiking and put tents up together in the pouring rain, even more fun. Everything we did was another opportunity to meet someone different and learn about them and their story. This place got it right. We weren’t herded into a lecture theater and then broke away into our isolated teams for planning meetings. We prioritized what is more important – people.

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I know that my interactions and relationships will be very different when the students officially arrive at school because I am comfortable with the people I now work with. This will only deepen and build a stronger, more personalized relationship, because I know more about who they are as people.

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Already, I have supported teachers (with outside events i.e farewell, social drinks) because these people are my new family and home away from home. I am excited because now I know what it feels like when staff members are much more than that.

“People are people through other people.”

Ubuntu Philosophy

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8 comments

  1. Edna Sackson

    Hi Chad
    Sounds like a wonderful start. Love the way some schools build the relationships first. At my daughter in law’s school, they do retreats for the whole staff and I know one summer the whole school (teachers, students and everyone else!) read the same book for discussion! Looking forward to reading about your new life…
    Edna

  2. Hailey Joubert

    Hi Chad,
    Was wondering how you were settling in. You sound energised and positive about what lies ahead. Sounds like your new school really knows what is important. It’s so true that when you value all people and prioritise building positive relationships in the workplace, the rest will follow.

    Am so happy for you.

    Cheers,
    Hailey

  3. jelena100janovic

    You’re so right! I think that all educators have great ideas, just not all know how to share them. And collective trips and/or parties and/or coffee breaks are great place for sharing, much better that official meetings 😉

  4. sherrattsam

    This is a beautiful posting, Chad. Reading your words and looking at the photos really gives me a sense that you are in the right place at the right time. I bet you had an absolute ball on that overnight trip – I am both envious and happy for you. Soak it all up my friend… this is once in a lifetime stuff.

  5. Paul Dunbar

    Right on, Chad. Love the headline – education is about people, not about systems, or technology, or data, or standardization, or ‘consistency’. Sounds to me like your new school is going to give you the space to be yourself – and what a smart move that is!

  6. stevemouldey

    Great post and it seems like you have found a school with the right priorities. The Ubuntu philosophy sounds like the Maori whakatauki (proverb) He aha te mea nui o te ao?
    He tangata! He tangata! He tangata!
    What is the most important thing in the world?
    It is people! It is people! It is people!

  7. Rukiya

    We are so fortunate to have you at our school this year Chad. I truly look forward to getting to know you more and your intriguing ways with teaching as well as socialising. Karibu sana!

  8. Greg Hannon

    Hi Chad,
    What an amazing way to get to know your peers. They are lucky to have you! Got me thinking on how we could replicate your experience at Scopus!
    Greg

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