Tagged: ethics

True Colours


The ebbs and flows of exciting new job prospects and recruitment is slowing down to rest dormant for another cycle in international schools. More on this later in the post. Let’s pause for a moment and wind back to August before going any further.

You’re in August, just returned after a relaxing break, time to ponder and consider if you are staying on or moving on, as your contract is a perishable item, just like long-life milk in aisle 4. Before you know it, you find yourself in October (some schools drop the ‘letter of intent’ much earlier than this). You have to resign before squaring away that next job.

What to do? Am I fulfilled? Have I outgrown this place? Am I happy? Do I offer something unique? The questions, the introspection, the game of  romanticizing and flirting with the dozens of possibilities of potential schools begins to become real. Then the practicalities and gravity of moving sets in…. shipping, housing, Visas, notarization, friends, the comfortable life you’ve created, police checks….. here we go again.

So you’re now leaving and have a good 6 months left at the school which saw something special in you when they first took you on. They hired you on all the skills, knowledge and passion for learning that you were bringing with you. Life was good. The cycle turns and rolls effortlessly.

And this is where ‘the game’ becomes interesting….

Who are you once you have a foot out the door? You’ve signed and secured a new contract somewhere else. Good for you!

How are you going to spend your remaining 6 months? What is your legacy? How do you want to be remembered? I believe that the true colors of who one really is, shine through in the last 6 months of their contract. This is when you see someone in their full light. Their morals, their values, their ethics, their desire, their essence, their personality, their qualities, their core…..

Are you someone who begins to:

  • arrive late to work?
  • use all your sick days?
  • say less? do less?
  • leave at 4 on the dot?
  • withdraws?
  • gossip and be more negative
  • and on and on…..

Or are you someone who:

  • gives their best and remains consistent?
  • contributes at meetings?
  • turns up to organized events and supports them?
  • is positive and works hard?
  • still cares about learning and growing?
  • has the desire to ‘finish’ well, right up to the middle of June?
  • and on and on…..

I believe that school leadership and administration needs to connect with the schools that teachers are going to and share some ‘home truths’ with how things have turned sour (or not) in the remaining 6 weeks of the year. More like a follow-up conversation, a hand over. Sharing an appraisal or goals. We do that with our students, why not educators….. Maybe this would work…. maybe not. There has to be a way to circle things back.

Sure, leaders can have conversations with those who flag and meander. I think there is a missing link from the beginning of August. The ‘sun setting stage’ of one’s time in a school says a lot about someone. The approach we need to take should go beyond the signing of a new contract and hoping they stay true and consistent to what they have shown and been like.

Let’s finish well, let’s finish how we started!

Why do we have to manage grown adults ‘out of’ and ‘in to’ schools?

In perspective, not much of it really matters

Every year, pressure builds up in schools as people become more and more busy.

This is quite inevitable. What is not inevitable, however, is the stress that grows around it. Teachers tend to start getting frantic and “overwhelmed”. This is often due to the belief that every single little thing is critical. This is not true, in fact the vast majority of things that happen in school are not critical at all. We just allow them to seem more important than they are because, really, we lack perspective in schools.

We all need a few reminders, from time-to-time, that there are many more things in the world that are more important than getting a report out on a particular day, that there are more serious issues out there than a printer not working, that other people out there are exhausted and won’t get six weeks holiday, that there are people out there teaching with no resources at all, etc…

If you find yourself becoming caught up in a downward spiral and starting to believe that everything that happens is critical and worthy of your emotional investment… remind yourself that not much of it really matters. Not really. Not if you really think about it.

Learner Profile – is it working for you?

In my experience, I have found that the PYP Learner Profile is a much maligned, ridiculed and – even worse – ignored element of the PYP. Yet, it encapsulates the very essence of what it means to be a PYP school bringing up future “global citizens”. It gets laminated and stuck on walls. Kids learn the words parrot-fashion and teachers whack them on planners in schools everywhere.

Yet, it is not often that we can put our hands on our hearts and say that the Learner Profile is alive, well and thriving in our schools. Why is this?

Well… part of it is confusion. The fact that there is a Learner Profile and some Attitudes makes it difficult to simplify things. Many of us wonder why both exist and so end up applying neither. I have found this fantastic tree diagram to be really helpful in establishing the relationship between the two:

With the Attitudes in the roots, they represent the hidden, internal behaviours that students need to develop. The more visible attributes of the Learner Profile are represented by the leaves and branches. Through development of the Attitudes, students will start to demonstrate the attributes of the Learner Profile. It is, therefore, much more powerful to work with the Attitudes regularly than it is to work with the Learner Profile.

A second reason that we struggle with the Learner Profile is the paucity of our own ethical educations! I have come to this realization in the last few weeks while being profoundly affected by Shane Koyczan’s powerful work. Let’s face it, the world he smacks us in the face with is the world we grew up in. It is also the world many of us still live in as we form cliques, gossip about each other, make judgments about people, criticize people who are different and generally act appallingly in the hallways, classrooms and staffrooms of the schools we work in. Of course, I am generalizing… but am I wrong?

The Learner Profile is the one thing that really sets the IB apart from other education systems. If we can start to take it more seriously and make it a priority in our schools, perhaps we could have a better chance of bringing up ethical citizens. If we can start using the Attitudes with more conviction, perhaps we will start seeing the Learner Profile come to fruition on a greater scale. If we can start being nicer to each other, perhaps some of that will rub off.

I will start a job as PYP Coordinator next academic year and this will be a major priority for me. I will share the strategies we use on this blog… in the meantime… what do you do in your school to make the Learner Profile work?