I consider myself to be amazingly lucky with my family. My parents instilled in all four of us something I still consider to be one of the most valuable lessons that I can pass on – it doesn’t matter what you do, but you should do it because you want to (not because someone tells you to) and you should do it to the very best of your ability. The four of us have taken very different paths in life, and sometimes our decisions haven’t been easy for our parents, but they have always put us first and for that (and so many other things) I will also be grateful.
My wife and my two boys are more sorts of awesome than I can put into words. Sions often complains that she finds out what I’m thinking from reading blog posts rather than me telling her, so know that you mean the world to me, and I still get days when I can’t believe you said yes to the world crappest marriage proposal and how grateful I am of how supportive you are of the next crazy idea 🙂
Was that a bit gushy? Sorry – it’ll get less so from now on.
There are three teachers who have had a big impact on the kind of teacher that I’ve become. Often we do the ‘I won’t name people for fear of leaving someone out’ thing, but actually these people deserve to be name checked. That is in no way to diminish the impact that all the amazing people that I’ve worked with over the years, or indeed some of the fantastic teachers who taught me along the way over the years. [2. And some of the crap ones too – sometimes we define ourselves in opposition to others, and that’s ok!] I’ll be forever grateful that I ended up working alongside people like Nick Francis, Nick Dennis, Rob Sanger and many many more without whom I wouldn’t be doing the kind of things I’m doing today.
Number One. Although she never taught me Jenny Heath taught all three of my siblings, and was also very much a double act with my Mum for a number of the years she worked at Honiton Primary School. From Jenny I learned the value of finding the thing that unlocked every pupil in your care, and the importance of rolling up your sleeves and just getting it done. The school plays that she would write, direct and oversee were legendary. This was all a long time before I ever thought about becoming a teacher, but looking back now I can see how those things have just seeped into to my understanding of what it is a teacher is and does.
Number two. When I started at Olchfa I was lucky enough to have Jim Probert as my mentor, and ever luckier that I was able to call on his counsel whenever I needed, including the last couple of years when he was one my line managers. From Jim I learned that as teachers we’re often reluctant to praise each other, and the power of doing so. I learned the value of spending time thinking and talking deeply about all aspects of the craft of teaching. I saw the importance of always putting people first. If I have any aspirations to leadership in schools, it is in part so I that I can pass on just a bit of what Jim passed on to me, and many many others.
Finally, a few years ago I nearly gave up teaching. I blogged about it at the time, and spoke about it a couple of years ago at the TLAB conference. But one of the main reasons I’m still teaching is because of the time I spent with Bron Jones and her year 6 class at Hendrefoilan school. Bron reminded me what it was I loved about teaching in the first place, and I was able to set myself the challenge of taking what I’d seen her do in the primary classroom and try and reproduce some of it in the secondary setting. She was an absolute inspiration and without that time with her class I suspect I would have thrown in the towel like so many others.
I’m going to post this now, and then email all three of them to thank them in person. And if you’ve got a spare 28 minutes over the next few nights, why don’t you do the same.