Mean what we say


It has taken me a long time to work out what schools really want, what they really stand for, and who the people really are that work in them. I have always believed in school mission statements and platitudes (why I choose certain schools over others) of heavy bold print that have flowery language, such as inspire and empower or whatever seems to be the rage at the time of writing.

No matter which way you look at it, schools are all the same. They talk BIG! They promise the best education on offer to enrich and prepare for tomorrow’s world. Really?! Are we really that ignorant or stupid to pretend to be something we are not?

I am not trying to sound whiny in any way, what I do want to do is stir up a conversation. I intend on making some some waves, invite a bit of chaos to the mix. This is the only way there is ever going to be any positive change.

So where is all this frustration coming from?

When I talk with teachers, I feel as if they want to learn new things and they are open for new ideas and ways of teaching and learning. All this conversation really excites me as it should for anyone that enjoys teaching like I do. But, when it comes down to actually doing something with all the talk, I am realizing more and more that it is rather hollow. No one wants to get better. No one wants to change. Teaching is transactional and the currency is convenience. People are teaching just the way they were taught at school. It is what they know, it is what they are comfortable with, it is safe. Hence, the blog title. My confusion and frustration has set in because I thought the PYP was going to challenge those traditional ideologies and open the profession up to be creative, provoke new thinking, promote natural and authentic learning, you get what I mean.

How are we ever going to move with the times if people refuse to change themselves and move beyond their comfort zone? I have observed classes seated in rows, heads down and teacher up-front talking at 7 year olds for an hour with no interaction…. No, this is not ok.

Which person are you? Be honest….

Well, my hope is and always has been that mission statements are written as guiding lights to aspire to. Would I like to be a child in my own class? Am I really living up to what the school is selling to parents? The answer is yes. Why, because everyday I am changing and offering students a different learning experience that requires time, effort and energy. If your gut reaction to the above question is no, then please do the kids and us a favor and try another profession.

Let’s say what we mean and mean what we say.

I promise the next post will be a more positive one….



  1. whatedsaid

    Chad, change happens slowly, don’t get despondent. Keep at it, one teaspoon at a time…
    From a song by Pete Seeger-
    “I honestly believe that the future is going to be millions of little things saving us. I imagine a big seesaw, and at one end of this seesaw is on the ground with a basket half-full of big rocks in it. The other end of the seesaw is up in the air. It’s got a basket one-quarter full of sand. And some of us got teaspoons, and we’re trying to fill up sand. A lot of people are laughing at us, and they say, “Ah, people like you have been trying to do that for thousands of years, and it’s leaking out as fast as you’re putting it in.” But we’re saying, “We’re getting more people with teaspoons all the time.” And we think, “One of these years, you’ll see that whole seesaw go zooop in the other direction.” And people will say, “Gee, how did it happen so suddenly?” Us and all our little teaspoons…”

  2. kathmurdoch

    No program can bring about change – only people can. And change happens when people like you are courageous enough to take risks and have brave conversations from the heart. What a great inquiry experience for you 🙂 and those working with you.

    • sherrattsam

      Agreed… a lot of people don’t know what needs to be done or what could be done until they see someone doing it. Some people only need to see it once. Some people need to see it 10 times. Some people need to see it 100 times. Some people will take what they see, run with it and then we’ll be watching them instead!!!

  3. Mr. Chad

    Yes, thank for your response….. A lot of adjusting and stepping back from it all to see the small cracks of opportunity. Talking about timeliness, a Year 3 teacher came to me today and asked for some ideas on their UOI. There is light….. For those who know me, being patient is not one of my characteristics. Again, I have to remind myself – African Timeline. Wooohsa.

  4. Stephanie

    You changed the way I teach from just a one day drop-in in Bangkok. Sometimes our colleagues aren’t those who are physically present.


  5. aldoanzures

    Dear Mr Sam and Chad,

    I have been following your blog for a long time and it always refreshes my mind and connects me with the educational practice. As I read this posting, I was happy, in a way, to see how one former teacher of children, was now struggling with being an adult teacher (now a PYP coordinator…if I recall well). I say this with a positive vibe, trying to pass the idea that many teachers do not see, sometimes, how administrators also try to make changes but is not as easy or pleasant as teachers think.

    Frustrations as administrators are, as we say in Mexico, the “day’s order”, but also as an IB Educator I have seen how this is not a sole country problem, but a teaching/administration/education one. Sometimes is not just teachers, but administrators or the education system that does not want to change. As a former teacher and PYP coordinator I found out that changes need to be done in all the levels, not just at the teaching level, but also in the administration one, and policy one. However, I celebrate that you share these ideas in order for other teachers to notice them (I hope not only overachieving teachers are following the blog!).

    In regards to Mr Chad comment on African timeline, I do not understand if is a cultural comment or something I do not know about Africa, but it might sound not so cultural sensible, but maybe is just my idea and I do understand English in that phrase.

    Saludos and congrats for your blog!


  6. naini singh

    I agree with the cultural comment. Africa is slow and easy and anyone coming into a new environment needs to respect that. I remember a Canadian colleague crying in a meeting when she recounted how in spite of her being abrupt and dismissive, her Kenyan colleague responded by smiling and greeting her politely and then addressing the issue. She learnt some manners that day! The 4Cs of the 21st Century learner (which also involves teachers!) includes Communication and Collaboration. It doesn’t matter how many strategies we have under our belt, how PYP savvy we are, or whether we participate in twitter or RSCON and have a vast PLN!

    Also, adding to Sam’s comment above, its not only the number of times a teacher needs to buy into a idea that works, but how we address different individuals. Those who are extremely resistant to change need to be dealt in a different way( nonsense :). Some are dying to learn and yet not ready( so banging your head on the wall wont help either) …while others just come to work for the pay cheque and couldn’t care less!. The admin and any teacher leader (not necessarily with a rank or position) need to address these issues.

    Enjoy reading your posts!

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