Hey Learning Powered minds!

It’s just the end of the half term holidays here in Bangkok. It means I have been immersed in nature, which also means my brain has had time to rest, which means, in turn, new ideas have been bubbling to the forefront of my mind (If only my brain had an “off” button!)

Most of the blogposts on this site explore Learning Power practice – ideas on how to stretch children’s thinking, how to continuously deepen your own practice in learning power, how to adapt your practice to new contexts; as well as musings about what Learning Powered practice is – how it links to other “deeper thinking” approaches, philosophies of learning power, challenges in developing the LPA and how to overcome them.

A less-explored but very important area is the attitudes and mindsets of a Learning Powered practitioner – Do we approach teaching (and life) in a certain way? Have a way or ways of thinking? Are these traits learnable? Are there “ways of being” we can all strive towards? Is the journey of a Learning Powered practitioner (personal and professional) ever finished? (A few thoughts on this in this introduction to #learningpowerpioneers – soon to be launched as a co-creative, mutually inspiring online community – watch this space!)

I’ve always thought the traits of a great teacher and great learner are one and the same thing – great teachers are deeply reflective, they question their practice and strive to dig deeper, they learn effectively with others, persevere if learning doesn’t go to plan, take stock, learn from mistakes instead of throwing in the towel, they aren’t afraid of grappling with big questions and perhaps never quite finding out the answers.

If we want our children to understand themselves (as learners and also as human beings), then it follows, in my mind, that we, ourselves, should understand ourselves (as teachers, learners and human beings). My first blogpost exploring questions of modelling ourselves as masters of our own self-care and resilience is here.

This blogpost is an extension of these thoughts and is a result of another  conversation with Jaz Ampaw-Farr – a lady who always stimulates my thinking.

The “No Bus”.

Jaz and I were talking about boundaries and how hard they were to maintain – especially when exciting opportunities present themselves and, especially when you are an easily excitable person (which, according to many, is me!). “Yes, yes, yes!” I want to say. Yes, I’ll talk through that project with you; yes, I’ll get involved with that brilliant and purposeful group; yes, I’ll start a school book club to share and embed best practice; yes, I’d love to… I’ve also sometimes found myself saying “yes” out of kindness and thinking about what others want, then regretting it later. Jaz’s suggestion (from somewhere I can’t remember!) was to “get on the ‘no’ bus” – at least to begin with – say “no”, “no”, “no” – then, assess, take stock and consciously decide which projects you definitely want to, and have time to, say “yes” to. This is a sure-fire way to maintain your boundaries for self-care and mindfully choose what is best for you at that time.

The “Yes Bus”

But how about those projects you really do want to say “yes” to? How about the ones that if you say “no” to begin with you will actually miss out on – not because of FOMO – because they will actually make a huge impact on your life. Some opportunities you need to say “yes” to and fill in the details/the how later – Feel the fear and do it anyway. For example, when the opportunity to launch the first #BrewEdBangkok with Jaz and my old colleague, Klynton, the answer was a resounding “yes” – we’re still filling in the details, but this will definitely be a worthwhile venture – It scares me, but what’s the worst that could happen? Klynton, Jaz and I end up on a rooftop bar in Bangkok watching the sunset and discussing empowerment in education. I can think of worse ways to spend the evening! (I do hope you’ll join us though – Follow #BrewEdBangkok for updates)

Feel the fear and do it anyway

So, what are we to do? Should we get on The Yes Bus or The No Bus? Maybe there’s a Maybe Bus and we can all get on that?!

No! The Maybe Bus isn’t the answer.

But maybe one of the keys to life is knowing when to get on The Yes Bus and when to get on The No Bus.

This requires knowing yourself deeply; knowing when something is good for your growth; knowing when you can stretch yourself just a bit further; knowing when something sounds great but isn’t right for you at that time; knowing why you are saying “yes” or “no” – Is it because you are scared? – Maybe you should take the risk and push yourself outside your comfort zone. Is it because you’re tired or because someone is taking advantage of your better nature? Maybe it’s okay to say “no” and take some time for yourself.

So, there we go, my pearl of half term wisdom, inspired by coffee-fueled chats with Jaz Ampaw-Farr.

When will you get on The Yes Bus and the No Bus this term?!

How will you empower your learners to understand themselves well enough to know when to say “yes” and “no”?

P.S. Here’s a golden opportunity to join me on a “Yes Bus” – Jaz is putting together a new coaching programme for teachers. This is going to be awesome. I know by saying “Yes” I will grow in so many ways – personally, socially, professionally – This will be an expansive and far-reaching experience. I’ll work out the details (making it a priority, what I’m going to say “No” to to make room for this growth, the fears I will be forced to face) later. You, too, can register your interest by joining to Jaz’s page here.

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