A smooth sea never made a skilled sailor


accessed from etsy.com

In my role this year at my school, I’ve seen staff navigating through some pretty big initiatives and changes to their mindset on teaching and learning. The year thus far, has been…intense…to say the least.

Our PYP verification visit has just concluded, and we’ve been provided with extremely beneficial feedback on where we need to go next in terms of inquiry based, conceptual, transdisciplinary learning – but I can understand the perspective of staff who say, “But, I feel like I’m JUST starting to get how to do this Inquiry thing, and now we need to do more?” The beauty of this programme is that it will continue to push us to improve. To make us think more critically about our practice. We’ve been used to the status-quo for so long that this is a difficult paradigm shift for many.

We are implementing a new division-based report card that will take some time for staff to learn. The focus is more on student’s development as a 21st Century learner, using the general outcomes of the curriculum as our guide to developing skills and processes to explore concepts (as opposed to content) more deeply. Again, something that is quite different for many educators who are used to just “covering” the curriculum.

We rolled out 2 more ways that we will communicate to parents on their child’s learning; a school-wide teacher blog and student digital portfolio initiative. For staff that are new or unfamiliar with digital documentation tools, this is a huge learning curve that they are working through.

Did we bite off more than we could chew for one year?

This leads me to the title of this blog – a quote that really resonates with me. A smooth sea never made a skilled sailor. I find it quite fitting for the shift that education (and our school) is going through. Sometimes, the boat needs to rock in order to learn how to sail it better. Sure, it’s simple enough to coast along over a smooth sea, but when times of challenge or unfamiliar situations present themselves, you sure aren’t going to have the knowledge or the skills to get through it, if you’ve never experienced a rough patch or a time of transition. This is a time of opportunity to hone our skills as educators. To support each other on our journey. The waves and bumps and motion will enable us to become more skilled in our roles. Yes, it’s daunting. Yes, it’s different. Yes, it’s fast paced, but think of the difference we will be making for our students!  We are well into the 21st Century – it’s no longer 21st Century education – it’s just education. That’s it. And we’re learning how to sail through it, together. The rocky seas will ultimately make us more skilled sailors. We may not get there this year, but at least we’ll be well on our way. The level of support that I’ve seen the staff at our school provide one another has been phenomenal. We are all in this together.

The desire to feel successful as a teacher is intense and innate. We want to be the best that we can be for our students – so they can be the best that they can be. Our success as teachers is in direct correlation with our students success in our classroom. Right? I’m not so sure! Maybe it’s not so cut and dried. We now know that learning should be challenging, should take time, should be reflective, should be collaborative, should require students to think deeper about how they will find the solutions to their questions or problems – the rough sea. We know that this will ultimately make our students more skilled learners who will be able to apply what we’ve provided them with to new situations when they arise. Why is it any different for teachers? What matters is that we know that we are there for each other, that our relationships matter, and that we will all work together to make sure we navigate the rough seas and enter into smooth sailing – and be all the more skilled because of it.

So did we bite off more than we could chew for one year? Nah – we just rocked our boat. Let the adventure begin!