This cartoon was drawn by Cathy Wilcox for The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald this week.

We in the education game spend hours discussing, thinking and attending meetings and conferences to address how schools can improve their work; how we can enhance learning outcomes, increase student engagement, promote student wellbeing, and reduce staff stress and balance their workload. School improvement is important work. And yet, education  commentators around our nation and internationally have noted that for all the effort, schools are very slow to change, and the changes that do happen are often not to do with the core business of learning.

The cartoon above, while specifically in response to our current situation, also cuts directly to one of the key things that can inhibit school improvement and change - that so often, we try to jam new ideas and practices into an existing paradigm. 

As the students return to our grounds, it is vital that we resist the urge to simply ‘go back to business as usual’. As teachers and parents, we must pay attention to the lessons we have learned during this crisis about what is, and might be possible. We must be courageous to challenge our existing beliefs and practices, and where we need to, to change them.

Over the last four weeks of this term, I will be encouraging our teaching staff to engage in a period of four key activities:

  • Exploration - of how what we have learned can be adapted and applied ‘
  • Reflection - on what has been effective, and what hasn’t, and why
  • Recovery - of relationships and core practices that define us
  • Vision - of the future for our school

At the end of the term, staff will gather together to analyse our learning and co-create our ‘new normal’