I believe in using long standing lessons learnt by many great people over time to help inspire what I do inside the classroom, within school as a whole and also throughout life. The Great Mother Teresa once said
I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples.
Lately I’ve come to notice this quote and reference reflects upon so much within the education system and what we do as teachers. It’s often hard as educators to feel like we can easily make real positive changes within a complex, large and differing education system. It can seem a daunting prospect to many, for example tackling how to initially handle the new GCSE syllabus. Sometimes it’s hard to see that the smallest of things can have the greatest of impacts long term. We too often can feel powerless and believe change is beyond our control or job mandate.
Please don’t be dismayed. The beauty of the education system is such that we have an ability many people in jobs don’t have. We have the ability to impact on numerus students, parents and teachers lives every day. How many people can say that about their job?
Big things often have small beginnings
Start small by applying small changes you want to make within your classroom. It will be noted if these are having a positive effect. Share that good practice with your friends, colleagues or even on social media and soon your impact will be far from small.
Remember no matter what your role is as a teacher, whether you have leadership responsibilities or not, you are in charge of the classes you teach and you can make a positive difference. You have the capacity to drive change even if you don’t see it yet. Your power comes from empowering and enabling yourself and fellow teachers.
So how can we continue to spread ripples throughout our classrooms, schools and education community? Here are my five top ideas.
1) Positive Community of Support
Have in your working friendship circle those people who both inspire and challenge you! Try not to get dragged into a circle of negativity that can sometimes happen. Try to encircle yourself with those people you trust to be truthful and critical, however they are also positive, supportive and willing to try new ideas no matter how strange they might be.
2)Share Good Practice
When you spot a good resource on social media or you see a good idea when observing share it with colleagues. You don’t have to generate the ideas to be able to have an impact with them. Use social media as a sharing platform for your own ideas as well as how other people’s ideas have benefited your practice. The feedback will be invaluable for the person who is developing the idea and trying to create a ripple effect.
3)Practise what you preach
It is important if you want people to follow you and try your ideas that you are practising what you preach. People need to be able to see you walk the walk and the positive impact it is having. Teachers need to assimilate with your practice to be able to fully understand the idea and how that might work for them
4)Prepare for Resistance
When trying to share any idea, no matter how good it is, there is always a high chance of some resistance. Accept this and listen to their concerns and opinions of the idea, this is important dialogue needed to generate growth, even be willing to adjust; Often an idea can feel like your precious baby, however many people’s opinions, edits and regeneration's of it is generally what will help drive the change and make it successful.
Compliment and support your colleagues in their own explorations into new ideas and trying to generate positive change and growth. Compliment them on something you see in their lessons or something they are doing to support your practise that is having a positive impact. Be kind to your peers and help them when needed, I’m a great believer in paying it forward. You never know what a gesture or a few kind words can do to help turn a person’s day around.
So my question is what are you doing to have a positive impact? Do you even realise you are having a positive impact? Are you sharing someone’s idea to help create the momentum and frequency of the ripples?
I hope this has both inspires and motivates people to keep on sharing.