This teacher life is a crazy one. Each day we turn up to school, put on our teacher face and work hard to inspire our students. We juggle multiple balls each lesson, as we attempt to convey a clear learning focus, communicate the big learning idea, manage complex class dynamics, motivate reluctant learners, differentiate our program and all the while smiling. Because we love it.
My recent re-entry into the classroom has reminded me of the hope that each teacher nurtures, quietly inside. Hope that we can make a difference. Hope to support young people on their learning journey. Hope that they will understand. Hope that they will grow in independence and knowledge. Hope that will unlock something and that it will usher in a lifetime of learning.
But this hope that each teacher holds onto is fragile. We are vulnerable to sickness, loss and grief. Our personal life continually drags this hope through the muddy trenches. We dust off hope and wipe it down, as we front up to a new class, a new day.
I am experiencing that delicate balance between personal and professional identity on a daily basis. I am observing colleagues around me who are clearly fighting their own disappointments and battles while simultaneously working hard to help the battles of numerous young people.
More than once I have recalled my PhD research and the nature of my data collection. Earlier this year I interviewed 12 women who hold leaderships positions in education. These conversations sparked deeper, ongoing reflection. This was then followed up by a series of email exchanges over the course of a term. Each email invited the women to reflect again about their leadership style, experiences and how professional learning has shaped their journey. I now ask the question – how did they do it? How did they find the energy, the time and the focus in the midst of a very busy school term to stop, reflect and ‘talk’ to me.
How did the interview questions impact that hope that each of us holds close?
I am now considering the impact of relationships, structures of support and connection and the way they influence our sense of self, shape our identity and grow our hope in our profession. The question is do you have those relationships, that professional learning network, the personal support of partner, family or friend to walk you through the trenches of this teaching life?