Teaching a group of Masters students in this past week, I reflected on the numerous connections that surrounded us during the week. Before class had started, 3 of the class were known to me – two from Beijing and one from Bali. Teachers whom I had either worked with, or knew through other connections, such as coaching basketball on opposing teams, or coming from the same hometown in Australia. It was just the nicest way to start the week, knowing that we already had a bond, and the bonds were strengthened, along with the remainder of our class during the week.
Towards the end of the week, I flashed up on the whiteboard all of the topics and skills that we had discussed and learned about and asked the class to come up with a visual to describe the connections and relationships. I had no idea how it was going to work, and whether it was going to work. It was however, amazing to see Charlotte’s Web, a pair of Doc Marten shoes and a bunch of flowers to describe our learning so far during the week. Not only were the visuals amazing, but so was the dialogue and explanation that went along with it. I was also rapt that the idea worked!
This past week in Bangkok has also meant catching up with a former colleague from 2002. We both arrived in Beijing at the same time, and as part of the same batch going to work at Beijing BISS International School. This batch not only has 3 people who share exactly the same birth day (as in the date, but not the year of birth) but a feature of the 2002 batch was that we developed strong relationships amongst each other and also within the school. Such was the recruitment skill of Iain Stirling, our Head of School, that he was able to create a team of teachers and staff which was the envy of the other international schools in Beijing at that time.
The relationships formed during that time at BISS are sustained to this day and even when teachers have gone onto work at other schools in Beijing and around the world, we take time out to reconnect with our friends when they come to town, or we are in the same city in the world. During this week, I was teaching “Introduction to School Leadership” and one of the major components we discuss, is about the importance of relationships to establishing and nurturing trust in school leaders. This is how we, as school leaders, support student achievement – it is about forming relationships with those we work with, so that we can work together in a cohesive approach to support the learning happening in schools.