IMGP2259The early fall of leaves from the larger poplars and silver birches, together with the recent rain, have all contributed to a change in the air that heralds the start of autumn. And to confirm it, a lovely harvest spider was sitting in the dew on my bicycle seat when I left home this morning. We exchanged pleasantries and then I put him on a leaf and came to school. It has been wonderful to see everyone and to feel the school come to life in the stories of the summer, weddings, joys and sorrows, expectations, newness and the pleasure that comes from preparing a loved school for tomorrow when the children arrive.

LJ CoverWe have been retelling the story of our learning journey this morning – the one we have travelled since 2011, with the work of Shirley Clarke, Carol Dweck, Alistair Smith, John Hattie (via Andy Griffith), and Robin Alexander placed into the overall framework that is informed by our vision and a distinctively Christian anthropology. We are welcoming 3 new teachers and a teaching student this term, and for them, seeing all the material we have learnt in one go has been a bit daunting. Nevertheless, it is right for us, and the challenge to craftsmanship (the Maltese glass-makers again!) is something we have to look in the eye and say “yes, I intend to do that; I will pay detailed attention to my practice and ensure my new children learn as well as they can”. Craftsmanship has the following aspects:

  1. We acknowledge that we have the tools with which to make long-lasting and deep improvements in our practice, no matter what stage of teaching we are at.
  2. Our challenge is to demonstrate the craftsmanship we have begun, whether as leaders or teachers. We are not adding to the tools we have. Those we have will suffice and our job is to learn to use them ever more skilfully.
  3. Who we are and what we teach will be the inheritance that our children leave Christ the Sower with.
  4. Craftsmanship honours the work of colleagues by building on what has been learnt and taught; in turn it expects to be honoured.

Theory of Learning Summary 2015There is a strong biblical angle to this work. Paul, writing to his “son” in Ephesus, Timothy, writes this:

Work hard at these things. Give yourself to them, so that everyone may see your progress. Pay attention to yourself and your teaching, and keep steadily on with them. If you do that, you will save/bless yourself, and those that hear you as well.

1 Timothy 4: 15-16

This is a good word from God for us all for this term, and will lead to excellence in all things if we are careful to obey. In particular, I like the expectation that “everyone will see your progress”. We teach in the public sphere, living examples to one another.

In the same letter, Paul talks about the household of faith (the church) being the “pillar and foundation of the truth” (3:15-16). If asked, most Christians might say that Jesus or the Bible were the pillar and foundation of truth, not the church (The church!?). But there it is, the living letters of the lives of people impacted by Jesus for his kingdom. As the old adage says, we may be the only bible some people read. Who we are and what we teach (both!) will be the inheritance our children learn from.

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About Huw Humphreys

I am a headteacher in the city of Milton Keynes, where I have been since April 2011, looking to make education effective for the whole child and keeping a distant relationship with the powers that be and their narrowing approach to education... but most of all I am looking to find out what it means to be both a follower of Jesus Christ and a passionate educator in the midst of an unsettled community. I am also a part time musician, part time linguist and lover of history and literature...committed both to freedom to learn and depth of learning for all our children. The views on this blog are all my own, and not in any way those of the school I lead!

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