Principal’s Blog – Principle 3: Narrate the Why

Principle 3 – Narrate The Why

In the early stages of my career I was often asked by students, in numerous different situations, why do we have to do this? (usually to waste time in my lessons) – why do we need to write the date? Why can’t we wear trainers? etc. My response was usually ‘because I said so’. This obviously bred an unhealthy power dynamic between myself and my students and on reflection was a relatively ineffective response. The only reason why I got away, even slightly, with this retort was because everything I was asking students to do was relatively standard, what if I was asking them to do something ‘unusual’.

One does not have to spend too long at King’s to realise we do things differently, both inside and outside of the classroom. From the line-ups to the mantra, from impromptu performances to family dining, from direct instruction to The King’s 4 there are countless ‘unusual’ things we ask of our students. How then can we ensure their compliance and get them to understand the purpose of their actions? We must ‘narrate the why’.

Everything we do at King’s, every ‘unusual’ act has a rationale that can be linked back to our mission, of creating successful citizens, and our ASPIRE code. We ask students to picture their legacy and see their time at King’s as part of a longer journey that will take a lifetime. Each act throughout that day, however small, is either a step towards that goal or a step backwards – this is the King’s story.

By providing a rationale for all these acts we are enabling students to understand how they will help them achieve their legacy and therefore become better at self-regulating, doing more good deeds and limiting negative behaviours.

So if I was asked those same questions from before at King’s how would I respond?

  1. We write the date to make it easier to find previous work when we come to revise. This will make our revision more effective enabling us to perform better on a test. This in turn will allow you to have more choices of further studies/careers moving us closer to our legacy.
  2. We wear proper shoes to school as it shows good professionalism. Knowing how to hold ourselves and dress appropriately in different circumstances is crucial to being a successful citizen.

Narrating the why ensures students can start to regulate their own behaviour (both positive and negative) inside and outside school – seeing the bigger picture and understanding how each act is part of the journey towards their legacy.