Recently I have taken on a new role in my school. I find myself in situations that 20 years ago I would never have imagined. These situations have stretched my capacity for learning to its limits, I think it’s called a “steep learning curve”. At the moment I am sitting quietly in the corner, observing Year 12’s doing their final exams. Each student is/has been building their capacity or reservoir of learning over their time in formal education. Are we stretching them enough? Will they be prepared for the next stage of their lives, indeed can we prepare them for that? What is at the very core of your teaching? What drives you to get up each day and face your students? By stretching ourselves in our teaching/professional careers we are showing our students that challenges are good. I often wonder what my high school teachers would say if they could see me now, would they believe that a boy who had very little capacity for learning in 1985 be the same person who has done so much since then?
For me, in the end it is about passion. I love what I do and I love the challenge of extending myself, to see if I can actually do it. Sometimes I question “what am I doing?”, particularly when I feel overwhelmed but looking back when the dust settles – I usually have learnt something positive.
When my daughter was born she wasn’t breathing for a significant amount fo time. The initial few minutes for my wife and I was filled with overwhelming grief. We didn’t realise that this could happen, it’s not what you read about int the books or see on TV. After a few hours our daughter was returned to us – in an intensive care crib. She was unwell but was going to survive. She is now a very beautiful and intelligent 15-year-old. I look back on this time as a real learning experience, I developed a better capacity to trust that someone else was looking after us all. That I can’t control everything but if I trust that God will look after the situation then I am at peace.
In my day-to-day teaching , I must keep challenging my students to move forward in their learning. Success is more than SACE points or merit awards, it’s about being confident that when you face the challenges of life you have the capacity to overcome and learn from them. It’s about finding the spark, the passion and letting that light your way.
You are obviously providing a model of lifelong learning for your students – taking different opportunities, rising to the challenge and as Marc Prenzky says ‘doing new things in new ways’