Taking my hat off to teachers

Teacher in front of backboard - 3D graphic

I can be a bit cynical and critical of schools and the education system. But I had an experience yesterday that has completely changed my attitude towards teachers.

It was a privilege to be asked by Epsom Girls Grammar School to work with Year 12 students putting themselves forward for leadership positions next year. I did a 20 minute TED-style talk entitled “Dynamic Leadership”, followed by two workshops on mastering the five tasks of leaders (based on a business model by Warren Bennis).

What took me by surprise was how exhausted I felt afterwards. I felt I’d been working three days, not three hours!

How teachers teach for six hours a day five days a week escapes me. Sure, I imagine you’d develop a muscle for it.

The energy, discernment and awareness needed — to keep 30 young people engaged, to decide what to affirm and what to let go, and generally to be conscious of what they are thinking, doing and feeling fo 50 minutes — is enormous. But the more energy you can put in, the more you can feel their young minds eagerly feasting on new information and ideas.

So, if you’re a teacher and you’ve ever felt I’ve dismissed what you do in my commentary about the system in which you work, my apologies. I hold you in the utmost regard, think you should be paid three times as much as you do and, if you do get a bit short and snappy (particularly after a few years of doing it), I totally understand why.

Still, I have no idea why you choose teach, or how you sustain it. I couldn’t do it.

But I do admire you. Incredibly.

Thank you.

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About Philip Patston

I develop capacity in individuals, teams, organisations and communities in the areas of leadership, diversity, complexity and change. I'm available to work with you now.

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