And yet.......

Tuesday 14 March 2017

A simple way to encourage progress....

There’s a joke that does the circuit from time to time that if you want to keep a secret then ask me to put it in my weekly mailing as nobody ever reads it. Harsh, but sometimes it does resonate.

I have a similar feeling over my morning talks. I am lucky enough to take morning talk (our version of ‘assembly’) each Monday and the whole senior school and staff are present.

The format for morning talk is simple enough, but the effect of a community coming together is significant. Everyone gathers in the Theatre, the atmosphere is alive and bubbly. Then a simple, single bell rings and everyone settles to silence and stillness, and I mean everyone. It’s the first really moving moment of the day. Then some live music (and on Monday the acapella choir was simply stunning) and then a talk. It can be on anything and the range is inspiring and thought provoking. After the talk there’s a silence, which is the second really moving moment of the morning talk. After the silence, which includes stillness there’s an opportunity for notices and for anyone to say anything they wish to.

The reason for this explanation and ramble is that this Monday I took a morning talk that has caused pupils to respond directly to me in a way that hasn’t happened before.

This week is National ‘Brain’ week and it was kicked off on Monday by a group of lerading neurologists writing to the press about ‘Learning Styles’ being a neuro myth. Fascinating, and we often talk about cognitive development, learning styles, etc.. In morning talk on Monday I spoke of something far more simple and something that I really believe in, and that is the power of 'yet'.

Yet. A funny, seemingly inconsequential word and one which I feel can have a huge impact on learning, self esteem and self-belief. Here’s how it goes. When a pupil in one of my lessons cries ‘I can’t do this’ when they are trying to use a particular tool I respond with the simple 3-letter word ‘yet’. When a child in the early years centre becomes frustrated at not being able to tie their shoelaces and cries ‘I can’t do this’ the response should be ‘You can’t do it yet’.

A statement by anyone that simply says they can’t do something cuts off all possibility of improvement. It signals a finality. A failure. Just by adding the simple word ‘yet’, one opens up the possibility of mastering a skill, of understanding a concept, of gaining information or of developing an attitude. A possibility for future improvement which moves the immediacy of failure aside.

So, to teachers, parents, siblings et al please embrace the concept of yet – and open up the future for those for whom your words hold meaning.

In am blessed that I lead a school where children can email me and tell me that my words have inspired them. I can tell you that against of all my performance reviews, objectives I may have met, etc. the emails I’ve received from pupils this week about that one small word have meant more to me than the authors will ever know.


New comment

  1. March 15, 2017 10:28

    by Sean O'Halloran

    Nice piece Richard.