There’s a funny feeling of limbo, being in School at the moment. On one hand, it feels like the term has only just begun to get started, yet at the same time, it feels like this term has been going on forever! One thing is for certain; the children are all very tired, having thrown themselves wholeheartedly back into School life.
Our Learning Powers for this half term are Flexibility and Collaboration. The latter is something that can often prove problematic for children who are, simply by being children, relatively egocentric. Whilst at home, only having virtual access to classmates, collaboration is not something that has needed a lot of practice. However, being back in School, at close quarters with a large group of peers after so long in relative isolation, this is a skill that needs to be re-acquired and the children are finding it necessary to make adjustments in their mindset to accommodate this.
Of course, none of our Learning Powers exists in isolation. In order to get along and collaborate effectively, one must adopt Empathy and Reflection, as well as Flexibility of thought. The children (and adults) who demonstrate the most success in their ability to work with others demonstrate all of these skills as a starting point, on which they can build successful relationships.
We began this week with the story of The Giant Jam Sandwich. It’s a fabulous old picture book story, first published in 1972, that I remember reading as a child. I’ve re-discovered it since becoming a parent and have used it on many occasions during my teaching career to date, in a whole range of contexts. The story follows the events in a village that is plagued by an enormous swarm of wasps one summer, where the only viable solution to get rid of this menace is to trap them all in a giant jam sandwich. Whilst it is Bap the Baker who first comes up with the idea, we were able to consider how, without everyone playing their part, nothing would have been done. Different people helped at different stages along the way, with each one being as important as the last to ensure that the day was saved. I drew parallels to School, where each and every member of our community has to do their bit, from cleaners and maintenance staff to the office and kitchen teams, as well as many others that the children are unlikely to ever see.
The lesson for the children, then, is that they don’t have to be number one. More important is to be prepared to roll up their sleeves and have a go, being the best that they can be and looking to support those around them where they can. This applies in lessons, but also on the playground, where kind words and consideration can make a whole world of difference. The practise of gratitude is also key to this and it is always so wonderful to see the children practising their manners both in the morning as they arrive at School, but also in the corridors and in their interactions with peers and adults alike.
At the end of The Giant Jam Sandwich – apologies for the spoiler – the villagers are victorious and have a big party to celebrate together. This is only possible because of their willingness to get stuck in and work as one, showing consideration and working hard, side by side. As we begin to see light at the end of the tunnel we have all been in over the last year, we look forward to a time where we, too, can look back at what we have achieved together as one disparate but collaborative unit and enjoy a celebration, perhaps with the odd jam sandwich thrown in for good measure!
Mr Watkins, Deputy Head