Knowing your Why?

Cast your mind back to July and August 2019, where were you, how did you fill your days, where did you take your vacation? I remember them fondly, we travelled freely, undertaking our favourite hobbies, socialised and played our favourite sports.  I was lucky enough to participate in triathlon events in Bintan, Desaru, Singapore on this side of the world, whilst an evening in the Cotswolds and the London Olympic Distance provided the backdrop to my “Summer” triathlons. Racing in London was a particular highlight, added to by the excitement of visiting one of my Uni housemates, who had moved to Jersey. Seeing friends and family all over the UK enjoying excellent weather to boot, as well having the absolute privilege of watching La Perle in Dubai, were all memories that I packed into my vacation prior to starting another action packed year at MCM. Now park your thoughts of “Summer” 2019, as we will return to these later.


The 2019-20 academic year started as it had in the previous 4 years that I had been at MCM, with a series of staff professional development days.  I was excited, and a little nervous, to be able to focus one of those days around digital learning. I had been in the role of Director of Digital learning for a year at that point and I felt that it was a great opportunity for all staff to hear other voices from the world of EdTech. The start of the day focussed on the importance of a vision and understanding why we were doing what we were.  Myself, some of the digital learning team and senior management had already spent a day, in late June, with the Apple training division, helping us to consolidate our thoughts and start to devise a digital vision piece, so the inset day was designed to helping the wider common room reflect on the progress we had made to date, and start to make plans for the next stage our their digital journey. Little did we know at that stage the rollercoaster journey that we were all going to embark on, halfway into the academic year, with the global pandemic and the shift in pedagogy approaches that online learning demands. 


The host for the inset day was a gentleman called Craig Kemp, who is an incredibly experienced EdTech consultancy called Ignite! At the time, Craig was completing his last year at a well known Singapore school, in the same role as myself.  I had met Craig a year before at the BSA conference, hosted here at MCM, and we subsequently connected and spoke regularly through Twitter.  Craig has a “small” Twitter following of 45.7k and is what could be regarded as a global edTech influencer. Whatever your thoughts on Social Media, I have met few people in the world of EdTech that has such a diverse and rich Personal Learning Network (PLN).  I genuinely believe that Craig uses “Tech for good” in such a way that people hop on board the “Kemp Express”, and he can deliver/connect you with many people and places globally.  


One of the most powerful elements of the day was Craig’s introduction and his reference to Simon Sinek’s book “Start with why”.  I am sure that we have all asked ourselves many times over the past 18 months “Why am I doing this?”, yet despite their age the theories that underpin the book are timeless.  I have to admit that the book has sat next to my desk or bedside and has been a source of inspiration in recent years.  The chapter on clarity, discipline and consistency is one of my favourites,  “It all starts with clarity, you have to know WHY you do WHAT you do”.  This has been a constant for me in the last three years, being able to clearly articulate a vision and signpost where we are going, whether presenting new ideas and concepts or being challenged on strategy or policy.  Of course, it has been challenging at times, however, the growth that colleagues have demonstrated and the way in which the pupil body has grown in confidence and knowledge has been a pleasure to witness.  Perhaps as important is the chapter titled “How a tipping point tips”  This has provided me with huge amounts of inspiration.  Centred around Everett Rodger 1962 book “Crossing the chasm” and the “diffusion of Innovation” model the theory formed the basis of my MA research project which focussed on professional development at a time of crisis. Staff have viewed their teaching in a very different light throughout Covid-19, where innovation has become the norm and pupils have been empowered to establish new ways of learning as well as gaining an awareness and understanding of their own thought process (metacognition).


You are probably questioning why I am writing a well-being blog post about staff professional development, developing PLN, social media and more importantly “Knowing your why?”.  Well in honesty I am not, these are the precursors to the pupil digital charter.  Having established very early on in the digital journey when we were creating a new MCM digital vision and strategy, meetings would often revert to what is more commonly known as digital citizenship, the behaviours, conduct and expectation that wrap around the pupil use of technology.  It was unequivocally decided that this should be a key part in the development of the MCM strategy, and I am grateful for our foresight and thought in light of what we have experienced in the last 18 months.  Knowing what is right and wrong when you are online, understanding how to balance your usage, connecting with friends and colleagues in an appropriate manner are all questions that link back to “Why”.  Why are we substituting analogue, why are we substituting face to face, why are we communicating the way we do, why are saying the things we do, why are we using our devices in the way we do?


Sinek’s golden circle goes on to discuss the link between the WHY, HOW and WHAT.

Our “WHY” is our aim for all MCM pupils to become outstanding global citizens and within this, there is a requirement to become excellent digital communicators and citizens.  In September 2020 we launched the digital ambassadors’ program.  Senior houses nominated house representatives, to promote pupils’ voices and empower each other about digital citizenship (HOW).  In January 2021 we also launched the “Your Digital Life” webinar series to discuss the many aspects of digital citizenship and common sense media curriculum with parents. As a result of nearly a year’s work from prep and senior school pupils, the MCM Digital Charter was launched in June 2021. The aim of this is to provide a framework for all pupils and the wider community to understand “WHAT” a digital citizen is. “HOW” we embed the digital charter and keep providing the MCM community will evolve in the new well-being program in 2020-21. The image below is the MCM Digital Charter and I look forward to pupils sharing their experiences throughout the next academic year.  It has been an absolute privilege to work with the pupil body on this project and I am excited about the future of the charter and the impact we look for it to create within the community.

The journey we have all been on through Covid-19 has been a challenge, however, the values of the MCM pupils run deep.  Our pupils have demonstrated their Compassion, Companionship and Communication in the production of the MCM Digital charter and demonstrated that they care about their community and want it to be the best version of what it can be. I feel that a quote that I read this week from Margaret J. Wheatley summarises the fantastic work that our digital ambassadors have completed this year, and fitted so well with Sinek’s Golden circle analogy


“There is no power for change greater than a community discovering what it cares about.”


It has been a real privilege to run the webinar series this year with my colleagues, Mr Cowie, Mrs Eaton Jones, Mr Gough and Mrs Lockyer.  I have enjoyed the dialogue and the questions from the parental body, as well as the excellent contribution of Jon Taylor, the UK online safety expert.  I feel that the series highlighted that we live in a world that is overflowing with digital media and technology.  The same technology has afforded us the opportunity to learn, share and connect like never before, however with this also comes the challenge of setting new boundaries and the potential of online risks. If you have missed any of the digital webinar series, all 4 episodes are available on the MCM YouTube channel – CLICK HERE. The word’s of Chris Gardner summarise the opportunities that digital technology affords us and it is our job as digital citizens to conduct ourselves in an appropriate manner:


“The world is your oyster.  It’s up to you to find the pearls.”


Let us return to those thoughts from the beginning of the blog and the “Summer of 2019”.  It probably feels like the Summer of 69 (cue Bryan Adams) and we will return to those days of free travel, discovery, competition and companionship before too much longer (I am ever the optimist).  When we do, I hope that the lessons we have learnt about ourselves and the world, the growth that we have undertaken from the challenges we have faced and overcome, will make us all better versions of ourselves.  In the meantime, I challenge you to be the best digital citizen you can be and encourage those around you to do the same. As Sinek would say “Start with your Why” Why are you being the person you are, “How” will achieve that and “What” do you want to want to achieve?


Duncan Ogilvie | Director of Digital Learning, Geography, VLE Co-ordinator

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