My teaching modus operandi is haste.
Take yesterday, for example: leave home early to finish marking a huge pile of notebooks before my first class, race to the photocopier in the five minutes between lessons to print off class sets of handouts, administer tests while frantically drawing up a PowerPoint presentation for my next lesson, don’t end up using said PowerPoint because a bunsen burner in the science lab sets off a fire alarm and the class is evacuated, compress a 50-minute lesson into the remaining quarter-hour, scoff down lunch while printing off worksheets for a student’s tutor, hurriedly prepare a classroom display for an information session for parents, rush off to meet and greet those parents before the meeting. Drive home and try to breathe deeply to relieve the tension knot in my stomach. Think about the question I’ve been thinking about almost daily for the last year: how can I slow down in my profession, while still getting done all the things I need to do?
Are all of these actions motivated by a single purpose – a vision? What would be the impact upon the pace of my day if everything I chose to do was?
I have a feeling the answer lies in simplifying my vision.
The school in which I teach regularly reinforces its vision in staff meetings. Our leaders believe a clear vision allows all staff to work towards a common goal, which is indeed true.
The problem is, each time a principal teacher asks staff members to recite the school’s vision, he is inevitably met with a raft of blank stares. This is because the vision is a rather lengthy sentence with several adjectives. Could the students recall this mouthful, even with posters displaying the vision in each classroom? I doubt it.
And then there are the values. We have four ‘values’ as an entire school, six more ‘values’ as a teaching staff, and five student ‘values’ which differ again. Gun to head, I would fail at listing all fifteen in one go.
Like I desire my life to be, I have come to believe that a vision should be simple. Concise and meaningful. Easily remembered by all who encounter it.
Vision should be the driver of all my microactions throughout the day. Conversely, I should eliminate any movement that doesn’t contribute to my vision. In my mind, this honing of activity according to relevance should lead to less haste.
I believe this vision sums up the Christian’s purpose, whether we be teacher, student or parent:
Glorify God in living good lives. (1 Peter 2:12)
Which values should a simple Christian school endorse? I posit that these three are sufficient:
Love (Mark 12:30-31)
Truth (John 14:6)
Integrity (1 Peter 2:12)
I believe that in a simple school, everything fits into the big picture of ‘God’s will being done here on earth as it is in heaven.’
Comments invited. 🙂