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My favourite teacher made me do it!

Growing up I hated school (sound familiar to you?) It was never an environment that I flourished in, and as a result I was (as many of us become) the class clown! This fuelled self-doubt, anxiety, and the general feeling of ‘I am not smart or academic enough’…a few teachers even confirmed this for me verbally, which felt… less than great!

As adults we look back on our time in compulsory education with dread, and then diagnose ourselves as disliking education based on a framework of mandatory attendance, subjects we did not enjoy or choose, and we do not even consider the fact that we were children at the time! That educational experience almost happened to a completely different person… yet we linger to the feeling and take it with us into adulthood.

Fast track 5 years from college and guess what I became… a teacher!

During my initial teacher training I thought back to the teachers that I liked and disliked, and wondered why I felt that way? I landed on the conclusion that I valued my teachers largely on how they made me feel about myself, with the biproduct being I achieved far greater things when I had a cheerleader as a teacher (rather than a critic!)

Think back to your favourite teacher at school, college or university – was it their knowledge of science, math’s, English that made you feel that way, or something harder to articulate? Having managed and taught teacher training provision within the public and private sector I am of the strong opinion that the best teachers are born to do it. Yes, you can teach strategies and tools to become more competent at curriculum design, assessment methodology, delivery techniques, etc., but can you teach a person to empower others, inspire, create trust, be creative, care, treat each student based on their own specific journey… I believe this in unteachable. This is either you, or it is not.

Outstanding teachers are dual professionals, they are also the outstanding leaders of the generations in front of them.

For that, thank you Mr. Mick Riddell (my year 5 primary school teacher) who let a dyslexic, awkward and academically shy child do things slightly different, because you realised to get the best from me you had to teach me differently… or lead me to excellence some other way. So, why did I become a teacher… my favourite teacher made me do it!

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