Thursday, February 12, 2015

Remembering the person in the people.

I attended a funeral today of a lady who I met while teaching at College Street Normal School here in Palmerston North. She had been teaching longer than I'd been alive. She was already partly retired back in 2000. Today we paid tribute and remembered someone who was truly remarkable. My current school library is named after her - a fitting tribute for someone who taught so many the love of reading.
Today made me remember the person in the people.
I've been so fortunate in my career to meet some incredibly inspiring teachers who moulded me into what I am today.
As a beginning teacher I was fortunate to work in an open plan space with my tutor teacher. Every day after school I'd make her a cup of tea and we'd sit and go over that day, the next day and how we would work together each afternoon. This wasn't an MLE. We did our own thing through until lunch and then brought our classes together after lunch for theme work. But being in that open space, I was able to see and hear what was going on and quickly learned a lot about effective literacy teaching and classroom management. Margaret made a lasting impression on me. She taught me about resiliency, fun and collegiality.
When I joined College Street Normal School in 2000 I was in the senior team and my Team Leader was also the DP. A teaching DP in a school of 500. Peter was a workaholic. He knew everything! I was in awe of him. My teaching transformed while working with him. I knew exactly what to do, when to do it and usually how thanks to the meticulous long term plan and unit plans handed to me.
A third person to make an impact on me was a colleague from Riverdale School. We shared an office space. We had the best chats most days and usually solved, not only all the education problems, but pretty much any problem in the world. We talked widely. I would rate Terri as one of the best teachers I've ever worked with. Her relationships with students were like nothing I'd ever seen before. She ran her class in such a different way. Together we trialled our take on self-directed learning. This was in 2007 - my last year teaching in my own class. The first year I did something non-traditional.

What is it about these 3 people that has made me single them out from other colleagues who have impacted on me? They were interested in the person in me. Yes, we were great colleagues and we learned together, but these people were also interested in me and my life.

What lesson can I learn when I think back? In the crazy busy that is school, it's about people. People and relationships. This isn't about becoming besties with everyone. It's about remembering to be human and caring on a personal level.

At the funeral today, Margaret's sister stood to speak about her. That's right! She was a sister, a wife, a Mum, a Nana. And a daughter. She was a child once too.
Let's look at each other and remember in the crazy busy that there are people all about us and in each of them a person.


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