What do teachers want? The answer it seems is to make a difference in the lives of young people and assist them to become well educated, well rounded adults. A big ask, but also one that would seem eminently achievable given the resources available within our Education system. So what, if anything, prevents teachers from achieving this? Assuming that the vast majority of teachers I meet, and that is more than a few, can be taken at their word, it seems that it is the system itself that is working against them. Let me explain…
I have just finished another of our famous two-day workshops for teachers, and sent another bunch of educational professionals away with a new set of skills. It was great meeting these teachers and principals, as it almost always is, as I have specialist skills when it comes to understanding people and their needs, and I love to share my knowledge. The learning always goes both ways though, and whenever I am working with this demographic I make sure to take the opportunity to ask questions about the health of the educational system, you know, the one that is supposed to have the needs of our young people as paramount.
A common theme I encounter is that these days teachers spend so much time meeting special criteria, such as dealing with NAPLAN and the like, that the job of a teacher is more oriented to keeping some anonymous group of public servants or politicians happy rather than the kids. There are tests, and pre-tests, then reports and forms, and all requests for additional resources need to be in triplicate of course. Our teachers are in danger of becoming administrators for whom the job of teaching is seemingly destined to become second place.
Then of course there is the behaviour of the students themselves, which can sometimes leave a lot to be desired, but is often made more difficult to deal with because of the attitude of the parents that show up from time to time, usually when some perceived injustice has been perpetrated against their son or daughter. These days it is necessary for teachers to have some serious negotiation skills in their bag of tricks, for dealing with both the kids and the parents. Couple that with the counselling, conflict resolution, communication and other skills demanded of them and teachers have rather more to do than a first glance might reveal.
That’s why I teach what I do. You see, everyone always brings their personality with them, wherever they go, and whatever they do, so why not teach people to understand some of the differences between people, especially the people most likely to work with other people! The catch-cry around education these days is Differentiation – How everyone is different and needs to treated as such. Unfortunately, along with that impressive sounding phrase comes little in the way of guidance or a model to follow, which is exactly where I am finding my niche. When I give teachers my model they are almost universal in their cry of thanks for what is a relatively simple, yet fully functioning system that assists them do what they are being asked to do, namely differentiate between the students and their varying approaches to learning.
They can now know, with a certain amount of conviction, that parents who are Dolphins will be at least as interested in their child’s self-esteem as they are with their academic performance, and that Eagles will want grades, good one’s too. Wombats will want reassurance that their child is a conscientious student that is doing what is expected of them, while Kangaroos just want their kids to have fun and enjoy life. They can also know that when these personalities show up in the classroom that their individual needs will differ greatly from one and other. They will have different ways of learning, and of behaving when learning is not occurring, that can all be predicted with a fairly high degree of accuracy, and that success in classroom is as much down to the personality type of the teacher as it is ability. Negotiation takes place in a very different way too for each of the types, so a little bit of knowledge here goes a long way.
If school is supposed to be a preparation for life (a place we are going to meet lots of other people for sure), then why not have life skills such as Aus Identities included in the curriculum of every school across Australia.
It makes the appreciation of others so much easier, and it makes working together so much more understandable, and by knowing how a person likes to learn before you even meet them, it can save a lot of unwanted and unnecessary behavioural issues.
Aus Identities is based in part upon other similar systems around the world that have proven track records for increasing academic performance and minimising unwanted behaviour. With 40% of newly graduated teachers quitting their jobs within the first 4 years, there has never been a greater need for programs like Aus Identities. Somebody once said: “Nothing can stand in the way of an idea whose time has come”, and I believe our time is now!