Lighting Bonfires

Do you have a chit-chat over a kit-kat when it’s breaktime or do you squirrel yourself away in your classroom?

There isn’t a right or wrong answer, unless of course you do the latter more than the former.

It isn’t a good thing for your wellbeing to spend so much time in your own classroom, especially at lunchtime. It isn’t good for your professional development or for sharing school intelligence either.

So much of what we learn as teachers happens incidentally in those moments when we are en route to another part of the school, standing together in the playground when on duty, sharing a tea or coffee in the staffroom or just popping your head around the door to say hello.

This might not seem like you are networking but that’s precisely what you are doing and every teacher has to be a nimble networker to stay ahead of the game – interactivity is essential and contributes to our own education.

Conversations naturally follow in a range of situations and these are often learning conversations whereby we share tips, discuss issues and ask for help and advice.

They might seem minor or even insignificant at the time but we could later come to ‘cash in’ these conversations and be grateful that we’d stopped to talk. These moments are when we can learn the most even if it is just a few snatched minutes, if that.

It is in these situations that we can light the bonfire of interest in each other and become better teachers, bit by bit.

These are also the times when we get to know school ‘intel’, and I don’t just mean gossip. I mean important information about pupils and the wider school community that can have an impact in our lessons and elsewhere. These could be game-changing bits of information that could directly influence how your next lesson or duty goes.

As Jason Fox says in his brilliant book Life Under Fire,

…minor intelligence sometimes proved valuable later on, where the smallest snippets of information had the potential to lead us into tactically valuable conclusions or a breakthrough.

All it takes is a conversation and a willingness to listen and to share school intelligence. Education requires continued analysis of what we are doing and having the mindset that ‘everyday is a school day’ for all of us.

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