We all have a story to share about that one teacher who inspired us to be great. For me it is Mrs Robinson. As a new graduate teacher, I did not fully understand what was taking place in my world and how influential she would become to my future.
Mrs Robinson appeared to be a walking disaster. She would come to school with her hair askew or a smudge of make up in the wrong place, papers everywhere. She spoke in hushed tones and at times her expression was stony as she tried hard not to reveal what was going on in her head. She did not look corporate or polished.
But she was an amazing educator. She led the Senior English department with a flurry of activity, questions and unorthodox innovations. She was a little awkward socially and it took me weeks to know how to approach her professionally. But to my surprise she always said ‘yes’. New idea, yes do that. More resources, yes we will find them for you. Problem solve this issue, yes absolutely.
I was empowered by hearing the word yes. I was encouraged by the word yes. I was challenged by the word yes. Just like Anne Bancroft’s Mrs Robinson in film The Graduate, she seduced me with the power of one word, yes.
Her story is an interesting one. She came to education after a career as a psychiatric nurse and her entry into teaching and leadership coincided with juggling a young family.It was this rich life experience that made her astute when it came to decision making and people management; something I had little knowledge of at the time. What I witnessed working with Mrs Robinson was an educational leader whose commitment to active learning continually pushed me to see new possibilities in my students and in myself. Her leadership inspired many people and I knew that I was a part of something special being in her team. However, it is only now decades later that I know more clearly what made her special.
This educational leader was authentic and she had integrity. She understood that being a teacher was about developing self knowledge and building capacity for self reflection; it was about greater engagement with the internal and external mechanisms of the profession and it was about continually changing to achieve best practice. (Mockler, 2011).
Creative women who lead and inspire, empower and transform will always make us feel a little uncomfortable because they force us to ask ourselves,‘ can I do that? ‘The answer is yes. Here’s to you, Mrs Robinson.
*This blog post first appeared on staffrm as a part of International Women’s Day #IWD16 #womened. Many thanks to @misswilsey for an incredible job coordinating international bloggers around the clock.