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How Do I Get The Support of Those In Charge?

This is such a common question, I’m surprised I have not thought to share this earlier:

“How can I enrol in others in the benefits of an experiential way of doing things?”

We all encounter various versions of this malady – working with others who do not see the world as we do, and yet, we are certain that if they gave it a chance, they would reap the benefits.

So, in this case, the question harks from a longtime playmeo member who is frustrated with the apparent inability of her colleagues to get excited about integrating playful, experiential and adventure-based programs into their curriculum.

Reaching out for help and/or advice, here’s my response…

In my experience, there are really only three effective ways of inspiring your peers to embrace a new way of doing things:

  • To engage them directly in a series of activities to showcase their benefits, eg staff PD workshop, and/or
  • Your peers are impressed by the difference they observe in the student behaviours or results you create in your own classes, to want to try it themselves, and/or
  • (Most powerfully) the school administration chooses to embrace a bunch of fun adventure & experiential-based learning activities as part of strengthening their team’s relationships and building a resilient & supportive school culture. Which, as I understand is the wall you keep banging into.

Sometimes, the simplest introduction is to encourage your peers to incorporate (at a minimum) a series of brain breaks throughout their existing curriculum to energise their students as much as invite opportunities to play, interact and share. Then, this success may morph into presenting bigger, more substantive activities that directly reinforce existing lessons.

 

Where’s The Proof?

 

On occasions, another trick is to present the research and science which supports a focus on building trusting and healthy relationships as the key to student success. Sometimes, showing the proof gets people over the line who just need to know that this works and it’s not a fad or some new-age thing.

Here’s a page full of research that you might find helpful. From a school perspective, the Olson study is a standout and absolutely proves that focusing on relationships is the key to student success in life.

That is to say, school is NOT about preparing students for a life of tests – rather, it should be about preparing them for the test of life. A powerful distinction, but in a culture that idolises academic results over social-emotional learning and health & wellness, it can be a hard lesson to hear.

No doubt, this is a tough nut to crack. I will say, that unless you have a top-down leadership embrace of this way of doing (ie focusing on building relationships) you really have to rely on your own sphere of influence.

Good luck!

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