September 20

Be the Marigold

A few years ago, I read a great blog by Jennifer Gonzalez about Companion planting. Around this time of year, when people are starting to get to the end of their tether, I normally send it to someone to remind them to check in with their marigolds. At the moment, as we round down to our last week of the first full term of school this year, you can see the marigolds bringing up their peers.  You can see them working in their teams, supporting each other, and at, blogging time, thanking them in their blogs.

In the article, Jennifer Gonzalez speaks about the power of companion planting and how each teacher needs to find their marigold, which is the plant that lifts up everything around them, and avoid the walnuts, which let off toxic substances and bring everybody down.

What we sometimes forget though is that we need to be that marigold for others. Anthony Mohammed writes about staffroom culture and says that there are four types of teachers in a staff room: fundamentalists, believers, survivors and tweeners.   We need to ensure that the voices and presence of the believers are around our tweeners.

I know that I have had my marigolds. It’s hard to survive in a school without them. If I’m honest each school that I’ve left it’s because the walnut (or the fundamentalist) side of me had gotten too big, and probably hadn’t noted it at the time. If you can’t be positive where you are in life any more, it’s time to make some decisions.

It’s also important to recognise the need to BE the marigold for others. The most annoying statement that I hear is “I know you’re busy but can I….”

Yes, you can. Because if we’re not making time for people, why are we in schools? Paperwork can wait. People are the important, non delegable, non postponable part of your job. And we all have so much effect on each other. In a regular school, teaching is a team sport.  In a new school, even more so.

I know my marigolds in the past have contributed so much to myself as a teacher, and as a person. They are not only the encouraging but also challenging.  Challenging me to be a better person and a better teacher, and I’m grateful for it. All in all it comes down to time though. They made time for me….and have been a mix of experienced and beginner, primary and secondary, teachers and non-teachers.  An old AP used to say to students all the time…show me your friends and I’ll show you who you are. I prefer to think….you become the people that you hang around.

Make sure you pick people you admire and that lift you up. And make time to lift up others.