Well, that was fun! And the view above is one of a few I stopped to take on my drive north yesterday, looking down from the first high point on the road just south of the entrance to Glencoe. Not the kind of view seen on my journey to work when I was teaching, and quite a distraction. Strangely enough, this was the longest journey (and I was right - 21/2 hours to cover 100 miles) I've ever driven alone in the car, and I loved it - even if I had to stop in order to look at the mountains.
The Ministries Reflection Course of which this was the first meeting for a small group involves aspiring Lay Readers, ordinands and others with a call to some kind of ministry in the church in assessing several competencies which TISEC has deemed essential to any minister. Normally a group would cover one such competency per meeting, but because of the difficulties of meeting often we covered two last night: Communicator and Collaborative Worker. I found myself thinking as we followed the suggested guidelines that as well as the basics of sympathetic listening and appropriate register and tone when communicating we ought to be raising awareness of other forms of communication - like this, now. Perhaps I shall suggest an additional session at the end of the course.
I was interested to note how my own past experiences fed into this new role. As an English teacher I seemed to spend years encouraging pupils to take an active and sensitive role in group discussion - and marking them according to Standard Grade GRC: don't think I'd have been too popular had I done this. And Table Leaders in Cursillo weekends are facilitators of a pretty high order, bringing together as they do groups of complete strangers who end up sharing their lives with ease and trust. We tend to compartmentalise skills these days; I have more than once been asked what training I've done for a job like this and know that this meant undertaking a specific course of study.
Maybe people simply don't realise what skills teachers develop as they work. Perhaps if they've never had an adult perspective on what goes on in a school they're stuck with what they knew as pupils - half a century ago. And that brings us round to one of the essentials for Collaborative Workers that we covered last night: appreciating people's gifts. Now, how does that translate back into the classroom?