At the end of our pilot period at Chiron OEP, I knew that it was crucial that I quantify our approach. As inexperienced staff started to teach on the programme, I wanted to feel confident that they were carrying through an approach that was going to have the most impact on our unique cohort of students. I wanted us to have some governing principles that would underpin our culture and how we behave both as teachers and as learners.
The Quest for Guiding Principles
Experienced teachers know that you need to be flexible as a practitioner to ensure that you are the teacher for the students. Our cohort often has complex experiences of trauma and as such there were certain things that needed to be prioritised which would not be the same in a mainstream classroom. I started by making a list of what I could see was working. However, the list is not what I believe is the key to being a great teacher, but instead, what is key to effective teaching at Chiron OEP. The extensive list contained items like:
1. Prioritise Consistency
2. Keep the Quality High
3. Say Thank You
4. Show That We Care
5. Show Them They Are Safe
Moreover, It felt important, but it was not a set of items that staff would be able to actively use, partly because it was too long and partly because there were areas of overlap. We created the list to clarify our priorities when making decisions. Overlap can create a situation where the decision is not obvious, which defeats the purpose. Although, we grouped these things together and tried to create a list of actions that would govern how we behave. What do we do at Chiron OEP? I come back to Chiron OEP “mantras” below when we are solving a problem:
1. We Show Up
2. We Come Back
3. We Praise
4. We Listen and Strive to Understand
5. We Give and Receive Feedback
6. We Prioritise Clarity
7. We Build Relationships
Our Guiding Mantras
Although, these 7 actions are what I would expect to see in every lesson from both teachers and students. They sit above every policy and code of conduct. They are the golden rules displayed in every lesson and they are how I pulse check the progress that we are making as a school. Although might notice that I have not included things like “we make progress” because I only wanted to include things that people would feel they could control. I also know that many things that you can measure, like progress, will come because of these actions. Progress will be made if we show up, if we prioritise clarity, and if we give and receive feedback.
Reflecting on Our Progress at CHIRON OEP
Lastly, as we come to the end of our first full term, I am once again reflecting on how we are doing in terms of our mantras. I am so pleased to see the progress that we are making with our students, and I can see all 7 actions are living in every lesson. I hope that my staff and students continue to use them and that they feel back to hold me to account with them as we grow.