The Power Of Perhaps To Improve Decision-Making

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James Manwaring

James Manwaring is Director of Music for Windsor Learning Partnership, a Multi-Academy Trust in Windsor, Berkshire. He oversees music for the 4 schools in the trust and has been working in music education for 16 years. James has been nominated for a National Music Education...
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How could we all embrace the power of ‘Perhaps’ and become better at decision-making?

Every day we have “Perhaps Moments” and these are critical ‘decision-making’ periods in our day. I hope that this blogpost highlights what they are and why we need to respond to them. You will quickly see that you have a Perhaps Moment every day, probably several times!

What is a Perhaps Moment?

‘Perhaps’ isn’t one of those words I have thought about until I started to use it differently. I recently heard someone talk about Perhaps Moments outside of the context of teaching and it got me thinking.

A Perhaps Moment is a moment where you are made aware of something that you could do or respond to. It’s a great tool for decision-making, but often, we have no real idea what the outcome might be. Perhaps, it will be a positive one? It could be said to be risk taking strategy or making a decision to try something out.

Let me give some examples:

  • Perhaps if I try this idea with my class they will learn more.
  • Perhaps if I speak to this colleague we will make some progress.
  • Perhaps if I call home I will engage with the student through the parents.
  • Perhaps if I stay at work for 30 minutes I will get more done.
  • Perhaps if I read that book I will learn something.
  • Perhaps if I get up earlier I will achieve more.

Perhaps, Perhaps, Perhaps…

As I write this I am looking at that word and it already seems like a funny one, but stick with me, there is power in those perhaps moments! What I am advocating is that we need to start to seek out moments in our working day where we can respond to a “Perhaps”. We might over look these moments and think there is no point, but perhaps, just perhaps, it will make a difference.

Decision Making To Challenge Ourselves

In teaching we use lots of different strategies and sometimes they work, and sometimes they don’t. The Power of Perhaps can certainly help us to challenge ourselves to make better decisions.

So, what do you need to do in order to harness this power?

Firstly you need to start to look for those moments where you can respond to a perhaps.

The other day I had one of these moments. I was marking essays and I felt like I was getting no-where. I then remembered something a colleague said and thought, “Perhaps I need to try that approach?” I didn’t want to reinvent the wheel and I wasn’t sure I wanted to make a new “Essay Marking Feedback Sheet”, but I did. I went with my Perhaps it will improve my marking and provide a better feedback moment – it worked!

Secondly, it might be that you need to give yourself more time to think about the small things that you could do that would make a big difference. Put aside time to reflect on your day or a lesson and think about whether or not you responded to a perhaps moment.

Thirdly, you need to get your students thinking about their own Perhaps Moments. They need to think about the small things they can do in their own learning that will make a big difference. This is similar to the “Now I Need To” approach that I have taken in my own marking. They need to think about what they need to do.

Why Bother With Perhaps?

These moments are part of every day – I guarantee you will think about the word perhaps a lot more having read this.

We need to bother because these moments can lead to the greatest breakthroughs in our teaching and in our lives. We often don’t look for ways to change because that can be tough, but if we look at it from the perspective of “Perhaps it will make a difference”, we will start to seek out new ways of doing things.

The small things that come to mind in a “Perhaps Moment” are often simple or easy to achieve. The other day I had a student who seemed like they weren’t getting anywhere with a piece of work. I said, perhaps you need to start again. They did and they made quicker progress because they were given the chance to look at the work from a different perspective.

Perhaps you need to spend five minutes reflecting on your teaching and make some small changes and as you move through the year, start to look out for these Perhaps Moments and become better at decision-making.

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