Says what I think exactly

Katie Martin

I read this article recently, Workplace Culture is Everything: 20 Ideas For Building a Thriving Team. In the article the author describes two scenarios of workplace culture–one where workers are stressed and burned out and another where workers are empowered and inspired to create and grow. I love this description of a powerful culture:

There is nothing more invigorating to the human spirit than working towards a common goal with like-minded friends who are equally dogged and passionate. It doesn’t just give us meaning and fulfillment; it inspires us to create those same feelings for others.

This made me think about the impact that the culture had on my husband’s teaching and learning practices in two different schools and systems. Four years ago Matt was finishing his 10th year of teaching and was so frustrated by the mandates and bureaucratic systems, which were compounded by the lack of resources and support.  He was unhappy and not as effective…

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Innovation always sounds like a hard job – this clears things up considerably!

An Ethical Island

Rethinking Innovation. Does it just come or can we inspire it?

How do you inspire innovation in your students?

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Sometimes parents ask us why we don’t ‘do’ Student of the Week on Assembly every Friday to recognise those students in each class who are performing and achieving well. Our decision not to do this was influenced by our philosophy about providing an environment where all children will choose to work towards their potential in academic and social endeavours without extrinsic reward.

Strategies such as Student of the Week rarely motivate children to learn, achieve more or behave appropriately – in fact they can often have the opposite effect of creating resentment amongst students who have not been awarded a Student of the Week award, despite achieving well and behaving well all the time. Student of the Week often turns into a turn-taking event in which students are picked based on some nebulous criteria because ‘they haven’t had one all year’. Children are very quick to see through these sorts of strategies.

At our school we want to recognise all students for doing well at the times they are doing it. All students can aspire to this. Each class has their own way of recognising the great work kids are doing and we use assembly to congratulate those students (all those students) who are achieving above and beyond expectations in their academic, sporting and social endeavours.

I love to see our kids proudly standing for the whole group with smiles on their faces – and equally I love to see the rest of the school rejoicing in each individual’s achievement. Student of the Week becomes a routine activity that looses meaning in this context.

Every day something at work amazes me. I use the term ‘work’ lightly as it’s not WORK work – it’s more ‘play work’. I love my job and the work I do – I work with kids!

Working with kids is rewarding, challenging, funny, heartbreaking at times – there is never a dull moment. There is no such thing as a plan – except to go to school every day ready to influence a life.

I love working with their teachers and teacher aides even more. I’m blessed with the best team on the planet and together we make a difference in the lives of kids every day. It’s what gets us up in the morning, it’s what provides the energy to keep going against all odds and it’s what keeps us together as a great team.

Herding cats?? It’s exactly like trying to herd cats – 600 kids and their teachers all learning and laughing together. So I don’t try – my job is to nurture all the conditions required to help them all experiment, innovate and be happy. Herding consists of tweaking the culture, doing up a shoe lace in the Pick Up Zone, organising some training, drying a 6 year olds tears when he can’t find his Mum, finding the money for the latest in learning technology, teaching the PE teacher how to use his MacBook, recruiting staff for next year, and planning for a future that’s 20-50 years from now – a future my own daughter will live in.