Congratulations to Cade Morpeth, winner of the Te Atatu Cluster Speech Finals. The quality of the finalists was outstanding.
Tena koutou, tena koutou, tena tatou katoa.
It is official. Mrs Leigh, Miss Campbell and I are now the real deal. No longer just provisionally registered, we are able to bask in the glory of being fully registered teachers. And it’s milestones like these where you realise how much life changes and how different things can be in just three years.
Let’s travel back to 2012. Miss Campbell had recently completed her nursing degree. She’d always thought she’d love to be a nurse or a teacher, and after high school it was nursing that her caring nature she was drawn to. Luckily for us, as her training drew to a close she began to question if being a nurse was her calling after all. The voice inside that talked of following in her mother’s footsteps and becoming a teacher grew louder.
Mrs Leigh had spent three months travelling around South America, “running from life’s decisions” and ended up living in Scotland, running a cafe attached to one of the major theatres. Her inner voice began telling her to listen to those who’d said what a great teacher she’d make. It told her to follow in the footsteps of her Mother, Grandparents, Aunts and Uncles and become an educator.
As for me, In 2011 I’d thrown in the towel on my corporate career after just 3 years of climbing the ladder. Needing a chance to think about where I wanted to be in the future I decided to head off on a 7 month solo back-packing adventure through SE Asia, Turkey and Greece. Along my travels I met teachers from all over the world. Their stories inspired me. I met children from all over the world. Their innocence and imagination inspired me. And my inner voice, telling me to become a teacher, began to grow louder.
I’d often thought about being a teacher, even during high school. I’d been lucky in my school life to have been taught by a number of inspiring and memorable teachers. I’d wondered if I could be like them. But this wondering wasn’t loud enough, and the voice was drowned out by what I thought were the expectations of others. Being the Head Prefect at my high school, the talk was of Law, Commerce, Marketing or Communications. None before me had gone into teaching. Consciously or unconsciously I’d begun to look at teaching as my ‘back up’ option. Something to do if all else fails. Something to do when you don’t have anything else. The ‘easy’ option.
How wrong I was. Becoming a teacher has been the most rewarding challenge of my working life. It has been filled with learning, questioning, reasoning, thinking – rethinking, and reflecting. It has seen me get to know myself, become stronger in my convictions and clearer in what I hope to achieve, not only as an educator, but in life.
The past two years have brought into focus concepts I read about during my Graduate Diploma but didn’t fully appreciate. It’s only now that I have 2 years under my belt that I grasp what Gerald Duffy was talking of when he wrote “Teaching and the Balancing of Round Stones”. As he says, teaching is an art where educators must bring seemingly incompatible forces into harmony. It’s hard to argue with him! As he points out:
- Society wants schools to develop citizens who think creatively, but they also want orderly classrooms. While it seems impossible to develop both creativity and order simultaneously, the best teachers balance these round stones.
- Teachers want to be liked by their students, but they must also be taskmasters who require students to do things they think they can’t do. The best teachers balance these round stones, too.
- High expectations are a key to learning, but too high an expectation causes frustration. The best teachers hit just the right note between expectations and frustration.
- Learning occurs best in authentic, lifelike situations, but basic skills require repetition and practice. The best teachers simultaneously develop skills and create real-life learning situations.
Luckily for Miss Campbell, Mrs Leigh and myself we work at a school where we are fully supported in developing our round-stone-balancing skills. I’d like to thank Wayne for his belief and trust in us. For not only valuing each of us as individuals who bring different strengths and personalities to the classroom, but for actively reminding us of the importance of such differences.
I’d like to thank Natalie Kennerly, Jill Jessop, Leanne Siaki and Karen Verney who were our Mentor Teachers through this wild ride that is the first two years of teaching. Your words of wisdom and your ability for calm in amongst storms has been priceless. To put into words just how much your support has meant isn’t something I’ve been able to do. You’ll just have to trust me on this – we couldn’t have done it without you!
To the incredible people we get to call our colleagues – we’d like to thank you for making us feel welcome from day 1 and for offering us your advice and support throughout the past two years. We’re truly lucky to have such a lovely bunch of people to work with.
And to the kids. We love coming to school each day knowing that you’ll be here. We love seeing you learn – seeing you ‘get’ something for the first time. We love your laughter, your questions, your imaginations. We love your jokes and your stories. We love that you remind us what it’s like to be young.
I hope you all have a relaxing and enjoyable holiday break. Merry Christmas – stay safe, and I look forward to seeing you all in 2016.
– Julia Bradshaw
Like many of the teachers sitting in this room I didn’t leave University with teaching on my radar. I left Victoria University with a passion for media and determined to find myself in the hot editor’s seat at a NZ editorial publication. 9 years and 2 careers later I find myself extremely satisfied having grown on a personal journey and working in a job that reflects that. A job I am extremely thankful for and never ever find boring.
To give you some context, I spent 4 years syndicating international celebrity paparazzi photos to numerous national and international magazines. I would hold bidding wars between editors and hike up prices to make huge sales. I would schmooze, wine and dine and talk about the latest celebrity scandal.
Following that I spent a couple of years as a working sole charge out of NZ for an Australian Home Rental business. I spent my days designing collateral, negotiating budgets, attending sunny conferences- and although outwardly it should have, none of this satisfied- I was trapped no matter which way I looked.
After 4 years I grew tired of pretending that meeting financial targets was stimulating or inspiring for me. I couldn’t keep up the façade that the latest exclusive sale of a Victoria Beckham image was something I cared about.
Don’t get me wrong, the travel, hotels and jimmy choo served my early to mid-twenties very well, but every 14 hour flight I found myself reminded that the glitz was funded by a career that was suffocating. I couldn’t deny that I felt very strongly about contributing to people – standing up for the underdog- giving something to people that they could take away and use to make their journey in this wild world better. And so my venture into education was born.
We were told at teachers college that to be teacher you have to love children. But I know now that is not enough.
It’s about being a supportive team member and meeting deadlines. It’s about communicating with parents and reassuring them when they are worried It’s about early morning band practises and dusting shelves. It’s about lists and auditions and turning on sound systems. It’s about preparing, planning, research and design. It’s about timetables, folders, data entry and analysis. It’s about buying fish tank filters and holding goldfish funerals. It’s about searching for backing tracks in the perfect key and becoming very familiar with Karaoke world on iTunes. It’s about trying your best to hold it together when the cockroach you find in your desk drawer tries to eat you alive
Thankfully- this colourful list of tasks all serves a very important purpose. They contribute to a role where you can support the young person that walks into your classroom each day with wide eyes. Eyes that are hopeful and excited and full of ambition, or eyes that are, tired, weepy and say ‘today I need you to just understand that the fact that I made it to school today is all the achievement I can manage’.
This past two years I have been reminded, and reminded myself something very important. I have been reminded that the relationship that you develop with your students makes all the difference. I have learnt that children knowing that each day they have somewhere safe to go where they will be appreciated, valued and understood, is important. Whilst positive shift in a child’s learning is so vitally important also, I have learnt that if you get the first step right, the bond, then the learning will come more easily.
I wish I could say that I have been consistently good at this over the last two years, but I have been learning, and as we all know learning is so often preceded by making mistakes.
I have watched a mimicked the behaviour of so many incredible staff members from this school over the past two years.
I have watched how you balance home life with your work life, and in teaching that is not an easy feat. I have watched you guide and support one another when you didn’t always agree. I have seen people sharing ideas and being extremely generous with their time. So many of you have been generous to me on this teaching journey and I’m really thankful.
Specifically I would like to thank Wayne, and my two tutor teachers Marion Clark and Leanne Siaki.
Marion- you helped me so much, and you were very influential in my learning to love children. You taught me that it is ok for a grieving, sick or miserable child to skip handwriting for a day and just sit on the couch for a while until he/she feels a bit better. Thank you for the coffees, rides home, listening ears and many gifts.
Leanne – I will never forget the day that you showed me how you organise your weekly planning. It was like giving Usain Bolt the perfect pair of running shoes and from there I was really able to get stuck into teaching, and balance my life more carefully again. I am also very thankful for the many useful, fun resources you gave me. Most importantly for me, you restored my confidence in my own ability to do and teach maths effectively. You showed me fantastic strategies that have carried me through teaching some of those more difficult maths stages.
Wayne – you took a chance on me and gave me opportunities that I am extremely grateful for. You allowed me to shine in the areas that I was particularly skilled, and let me learn privately and at my own pace in the areas where I needed to grow. Thank you for my job and for defending me when I have needed it. Thank you listening to what I say and for respecting me enough to trust my decisions.
I have made great friendships at Matipo that I treasure. Now I am off to take a short break to venture into one of the hardest jobs there is – motherhood!
Thank you again to the staff, children, parents and teachers that have supported my two year journey to becoming a registered teacher. I wish you all a very safe and relaxing holiday.