I’m a keen observer of people and their foibles. Even the word “foible” is kind of hard not to spend a little time observing. But what I notice even more than individual foibles is when these habits and rituals become the traits of whole staffs, and even of industries.
One such foible that educators have collectively cultivated would have to be the rejection of the calendar that most people run their lives from. Let’s be totally honest, you are probably far more acutely aware that it’s Week 3 Term 3 (roughly, depending on state) than you are to know that it’s August 8th 2017!
What’s that all about? Well, I’d contend that it’s simply because the calendar doesn’t accurately describe the distance covered in a term/semester/year nor the distance left to cover. And as Teachers, we’ve developed a healthy, yet terminal, addiction to progress!
Think about the blue line that creeps its way across your screen when downloading a file. It’s mesmerizing isn’t it? You just can’t look away! This is how deeply connected we are to seeing progress in action.
This concept of visual progress has me wondering if your staff is seeing the distance they are covering, not in terms of time, but in terms of their own achievement. Are they adequately reminded of the improvements their students are making and of the quantum leaps in their own practice? Are they focused on advancement or merely the next problem or challenge?
Here’s the truth. Australian Teachers have a pretty good bullshit radar. They know that motivation comes not from a special morning tea, a free Friday drink or a rushed platitude in the staff room … as nice as these things are. We’re motivated by achievement. If we want a motivated, or even inspired, staff the correct question to ask ourselves is if they can tangibly see the difference they are making.
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In life, it’s like spending thousands on a 60-inch television when the real viewing difference from the previous 55-inch screen might not be much at all. Yet, for some reason, we just keep on sustaining.
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