Journeys Through Teaching

Journeys Through Teaching

What if then…?

Recently at school we’ve been talking a lot about culture building. The need to build strong relationships in our classrooms is always a major focus for educators at the beginning of a school year, and for good reason.  I’ve also been talking to others at our school about how we support a positive staff culture.  Those conversations are, as always, ongoing and complex, but recently I saw a heartwarming example of building a learning culture that I wanted to write about today.

Our son, Kiran, is 4.  He loves Lego, and has been thrilled that one of his friends loves Lego too and they’ll often take turns visiting each others houses to play after school.  One day last week I came home to find Kiran and his friend busy playing together (not too unusual), but they were so absorbed in what they were doing that I got chance to just listen to them play. And I heard something awesome.

The 2 little boys were busily building some kind of vehicle, a ‘lair’ for bad guys, a hide out and goodness knows what else.  But what amazed me was the way that they were taking turns and building on each others’ ideas. One of them would add something and describe what it was/its purpose “If we put a door here the bad guys can escape through it” – cute!  Then, the other would look, agree and reply with “What if then…” and add their own idea.

It was great to watch, they were quite happily building forward.  Each idea didn’t need to be scrutinised too much, nothing they did brought this little game to an end, there was no final product, they just kept moving forwards – together. It was so simple, and yet so effective.

Now, sadly, the world is a little more complex than Lego (although seeing some Lego kits recently makes me rethink that statement), and I myself am a strong advocate of working towards a clear aim… but watching their exchange made me consider how we could recognise and honour times when building forwards together was most valuable.  If that approach of seeing a constant stream of problems and solutions as progress was actually incredibly useful.  And if maybe their way of removing limitations and just seeing possibilities was one we all need more of.

We all know the power of positive talk but how many of us check the way we talk to each other? How much time do we really spend considering how the way we say something can impact what happens next (think about ‘the power of might’ and how much difference 1 small word can make)? And do we take time to consider our responses when someone else raises a problem they are facing – do we respond in a way which encourages finding solutions?

I don’t have any answers yet about how to build this into a school culture, to be truly honest I’ve been so busy in the past week with other projects at school I haven’t put much time into thinking about it yet… but I am hoping that writing about it gets my thoughts flowing a little and maybe prompts me to find some ideas. If nothing else, at least it made me smile thinking about it again 🙂

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Emma Wheatley
Emma Wheatley


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