Sometimes it feels like some work is more important than others, but at the end of the day it is all real work.
An old colleague and I were recently discussing work and he shared the joy of doing what he termed ‘real work’ with schools. I stopped him in his tracks and explained that I understood where he was coming from. Working with teachers has always felt more meaningful, that it has more of an impact. However, I pointed out to him that the work that I do is no less real than his work.
Supporting student systems and those in administration, I have come to realise how much we often take for granted in regards to how schools run today. I was speaking to a coordinator at a school the other day about the various services and subscriptions they use. He explained that when there is a new student they need to be loaded into six different services. Technology is more than just a tool it is a complex set of connections that builds up over time.
One of the arguments for ‘real’ work is the ability to impact student outcomes. As Vivianne Robinson argues in her book, Student Centred Leadership,
The more leaders focus their relationships, their work, and their learning on the core business of teaching and learning, the greater will be their influence on student outcomes.
Although it may sometimes seem like a challenge to link some of my work back to the core business of learning and teaching students, I still think it is possible.
For example, one of the elements of the project I am working on is to provide schools a data analytics tool that supports teachers and leaders in making informed decisions. The challenge with this is that there are a lot of dependencies associated with it. For example, there is a dependency on schools having a recorded timetable. Although this is common for secondary schools, it is not so common for primary schools. I have therefore done a significant amount of work to limit how long this exercise takes. In regards to learning and teaching, this has the indirect impact of then allowing schools to spend more time focusing on learning and teaching.
The work that I do has many focuses. Sometimes it is about supporting simple transactions, other times it is about everyday efficiencies. Sometimes it is about helping schools reflect upon particular workflows to ease their workload, other times it is about improving a process, such as the creation of timetables. All of this though is real work that ends up having some sort of impact on student learning in the end.
What do you think? Is there some work that is more real than others? As always, thoughts and comments welcome.
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