At the risk of sounding a little Harmony Hairspray (for the senior members of the team)… Were you, or weren’t you?
What on earth am I talking about? Well, just in case you missed it, yesterday, Thursday 26th May was officially designated, by all leaders in the DFE, as ‘Thank a Teacher day’ – And I hope that our teachers were thanked.
I’m not sure our children and young people would go out of their way to thank you, to whomever their teachers, staff members are or to say thank you on a particular day. They don’t need the day to remind them that appreciation and politeness are at the core of what we do / teach.
Many of the children and young people that we work with have a real understanding, and appreciation, of the value of the work that we do and the care and support that we offer and, as a consequence, they go out of their way to say thank you on a regular basis. As you might expect me to say, that doesn’t happen by accident. It isn’t necessarily typical that a child or a young person will take the time to say thank you, be polite or appreciate the efforts made by those adults who work with them and care for them. But our children and young people do get it right.
They understand the value of the experiences they have when they are with us and, as a consequence, they are prone to offering an appreciative nod, a heartfelt thank you or even a present, on occasions. Not every school or college, not every educational establishment has that positive atmosphere. We do and we do because we work hard on building mutual respect and understanding between children, between children and adults and between adults themselves.
It really doesn’t happen that widely and so from me, for that, thank you!
Sometimes our children and young people don’t always get it right. That’s understandable. Even those hefty young people who are presently sitting their final exams at Thomas Rotherham College and will soon be going off to work or to university are still very much children. They may be chronologically defined as an adult but often emotionally, socially and even psychologically they are still very much a child at heart. We, as the adults, need to display behaviours which give them a nudge in the right direction and model those behaviours we want them to exhibit. When they don’t get it right it’s then down to how they subsequently respond.
The cockles of my heart were warmed this week when I noticed there was an open box of Milk Tray in the reception at Oakwood. It’s not that I necessarily wanted chocolate, it’s more that somebody had clearly done something to say thank you.
Upon investigation it turned out to be but one of our year 11 pupils hadn’t managed a situation particularly well the previous afternoon and had displayed some poor behaviours with our colleagues who work in the reception area. Unprompted and off his own back he arrived the next morning, very early, with a box of Milk Tray and a card apologising for his conduct. The staff in reception were moved. His actions illustrate that he understood that not only had he got it wrong, but also that we get it right with him and his peers. His attempts to apologise and retrieve the situation reflect very positively upon him and equally positively on us all.
In a week where the behaviours of some people at the heart of government has been questioned, especially behaviour towards security staff and cleaners, these messages have brought hope and cheer.
‘The first responsibility of a leader is to define reality. The last is to say thank you. In between, the leader is a servant.’ Max de Pree
At the end of a seven-week half term (that we’ve squeezed into four week and four days of work) it’s time to, if you can, put your feet up and take it easy. I really do hope that you’ve got some positive things planned and wonderfully we will all have a long weekend, next weekend, to mark Her Majesty’s Jubilee.
Our Year 11s and Year 13s will be hard at it, revising. Give them good cheer, space and offer them something that will prompt a thank you.