Teachers are not teachers for the money. Teachers are teachers because they love to learn and to see others catch the learning bug.
I've caught up with a few friends and family in the last week who are teachers. For ten weeks we have been head down bum up in our own classrooms, our own schools. This term break is when teachers have traditionally held their annual meetings of their unions. NZEI (primary & intermediate & ECE teachers and support staff) held their meeting in Rotorua and PPTA (secondary teachers) held their meeting in Wellington. Even though I was not an official attendee to the NZEI Annual Conference, I did gate crash one day to hear three fabulous speakers, Dr Richie Poulton on self-control, Deborah Morris-Travers (CEO of Unicef) on child poverty and Efeso Collins on talanoa. See the end of this post for the Storifys of the tweets I've made for Deborah and Efeso's presentations.
But there is also the time for that collegial aspect of sharing a meal or a drink and discussing with your friends and whanau who are teachers about the funnier aspects of teaching, the trials, the successes, the frustrations.... that you can truly appreciate in the term break.
Then there is the catching up on housework, car maintenance, dentist/doctor/vet visits, marking, professional reading, class tidying... all those things you were too busy to do during the previous 10 weeks crammed into 2 weeks.
And while I do bemoan the fact that teachers are under attack from our own government and society (that's for another post), Sunday was all about celebrating the teachers that have inspired us as learners. These are the teachers who inspired me as a learner at primary and secondary school:
This is my 6th Form Certificate Máori class at Melville High in Hamilton in 1990 with our teacher, Te Pirihi Whiu (known as Bill to the other teachers). We had had Te Pirihi as our teacher since third form, where he put us all out of our comfort zone. But we stuck with him. The teacher that petrified us as turds, was beloved by our sixth form year. "Jump" he said to us in 1987 and we did. By 1990, it was like "Whatever, TP" but we learned so much. Four of us became teachers, the fifth a lawyer.
I think that the above quote is true of the teachers I have worked with and I also want to celebrate the teachers I have worked with who have inspired me as a professional.
I am so lucky to count these people as friends as well as colleagues.
So today I challenge you to tell the teachers who have inspired you as a learner or as a professional (no matter what profession you are in) that they have had an impact on you. Celebrate what teachers have helped you achieve, and celebrate that they were your teacher. Celebrate our quality public education system and World Teachers' Day. I want you to celebrate the teachers who met your standard of a great teacher.
And below, be inspired by Deborah Morris-Travers and Efeso Collins, who spent a small amount of time this last week inspiring teachers, principals and support staff at the NZEI Annual Conference. I certainly got a lot out of their wise words and recorded what I could.