This is a quote that has always spoken to me because I find it to be such a tension in our work as educators. Finding this meaning is important because it gives us purpose. And this is of course what ultimately motivates us as we know from Daniel Pink (The Puzzle of Motivation, TEDGlobal 2009).
But how exactly do we find this meaning?
For me, it develops through collaboration and reflection....both of which we never seem to have enough time to do thoroughly as teachers. Hence, the tension.
Last year, my Early Years team attended a workshop in Bangkok. Even though we meet bi-monthly (and weekly as individual grade levels), we still haven't had enough time to process, reflect and act in the ways we originally intended. The Singapore PYP Early Years Focus Group that I co-chair has found it incredibly difficult to meet regularly with consistent attendance. This has nothing to do with the enthusiasm of the teachers involved (believe me there is a lot of it!) but rather with the extent and variety of responsibilities and events they have at their respective schools. I haven't had time to complete and publish a post on this blog since December 2014! Just a few examples of time struggles that probably sound familiar to a lot of people.
In schools we are always talking about the learning conditions and environment we set for our students. But what about the learning environment and opportunities that are in place for our teachers? How much time to we really have to collaborate, reflect, and therefore, make meaning?
Lella Gandini cautions that "if we do not interpret events, we cannot share the meanings and significance of that which takes place. Interpreting is fundamental for advancing the work and growth processes of children and teachers." (In Dialogue with Reggio Emilia, 2006, p.134-135)
Loris Malaguzzi said that children "become even more curious, interested and confident as they contemplate the meaning of what they have achieved" (The Hundred Languages of Children, Second Edition, 1998, p. 70). Is the same not also true for teachers? While children will always be at the centre of what we do as educators, I wish we could think nearly on equal terms about the rights of and learning conditions for our teachers.