When Did You “Get” Teaching?

A couple of weeks back I went on another of my school’s weekend conferences. I’ve talked about this initiative that my principal has introduced into our school in a previous post.

Essentially, whoever is interested comes away to a hotel and we spend two days looking at leadership and learning. We are treated like serious professionals (I mean, how many of you go to teaching conferences where your room and food is paid for once a term? It’s unheard of except for business people, doctors etc.) They are deliberately scheduled for about Week 6 of a 10 week term. The time when you’re starting to get tired and wishing the holidays would just hurry up. The idea being that hopefully, whilst you are still tired, mentally you are in a positive frame of mind.

I really enjoy these conferences because a) it’s a chance to get away and b) it’s a chance to reflect on your knowledge and learning and to learn something new. I’m a big believer in not thinking that I know everything and being open to learning and doing something new.

This recent conference was used as a way to prepare for the rewriting of our next three year School Plan. For those unacquainted with the School Plan it’s essentially a document outlining the goals to be achieved by the school in the next three years.

Early on in the conference we were looking at the question: “How did we get to where we are?”

In the exercise we were given some time to identify five defining moments in our lives that got us to where we are now as teachers. It was a private, reflective time because many people would have had some very private moments that they wouldn’t want to share with anyone else.

I’m going to share mine with you and would ask you to share yours in the comments. Before I do however, I wanted to preface by saying that this exercise really cemented a feeling I’ve had for most of this year. That of actually “getting” teaching. Of realising, it’s not so hard, it’s not rocket science anymore and most importantly, the belief that I can teach and that I can be an even better teacher. As a beginning teacher (not so much anymore) teaching can feel overwhelming and incredibly difficult. Well, that’s how I felt. It is certainly a relief to feel a little more in control and a little more confident in my abilities.

  1. Changing High Schools – In Year 8 I moved from a public high school to a private one. Now, I believe in both education systems. I like both and I think they both have their pro’s and their con’s. I teach in the public system and I love it. Unfortunately, at the time, this particular public high school let me down. In my learning and in the provision of opportunities. When I went to my new school I was given endless opportunities. It was here that I discovered Drama which my other school didn’t offer. It was here that I built confidence and considered all possibilities.
  2. Year 12 Drama – By now I’d been involved with Drama for five years. I desperately wanted to be an actor. In my final year we learnt about a practitioner called Augusto Boal. I learnt that drama and theatre could be used for change and to help others. I felt inspired. I wanted to be an actor even more. Looking back now I could see the complexity of drama as a way to connect with feelings and thoughts. I think I felt that then but I couldn’t articulate it.
  3. University – This was a time when reality was setting in. I’d received entry into a course that I was aboslutely fixated on getting into. It was my first time living away from home and it was a time when I was meeting a whole range of new and different people. The course and the realities of the theatre industry were not sitting well with me. I was hating what I was studying and I didn’t see the point of any of it. However, I don’t quit. Well, for some reason I didn’t want to quit this. Perhaps because I could still focus on what I was working towards. Similarly when I went to do my teaching Diploma I was frustrated to no end when I found out it would take me two years instead of one to complete my degree. I felt like I was treading water but I was determined to swim to the shore.
  4. My First Teaching Job – My first (and current) school was a huge culture shock for me. Here I was, an idealistic graduate hoping to change the world and inspire everyone to love Drama. Ha! How wrong I was. My beliefs were challenged, my motivation and confidence were seriously challenged. Yet, I was determined and incredibly resilient knowing that I needed to stand proud with integrity knowing I could be the best teacher I could be for my kids. I don’t do anything by halves. I strive to be the best within myself.
  5. Leaving a Relationship – Here it gets quite personal but I am prepared to share. Unfortunately, and with incredibly deep sadness my long term relationship ended last year. Your focus shifts at these times and I have since had a little more time to focus on my career, rediscover my confidence and to fully believe in the goals I’ve always had for myself, deep inside, for a long time. I finally let myself believe in myself and in doignt that I finally “get” teaching.

What moments in your teaching life have defined you as the teacher you are now?

Image Credits: Driving into the Andes, Stuck in Customs, Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)