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Negative experiences in life produced a drive in me to not
only prove my detractors wrong, but also prove to myself that I could
do it too
There have been many times in my life when others have told me that I
would never amount to anything. That as a teacher I was average, or
mediocre at best.
Never was this more difficult than in the last school at which I
taught. And so profoundly was I impacted by the long-term harassment
and bullying of one head teacher that I never want to teach in schools
again. TAFE provided a safe place to heal, and my amazing head teacher
gave me the opportunity to really teach in a creative and innovative
way. Very different from others in my section. As a result, the
students have achieved outstanding results and will get into the
university courses of their choice.
There have been volumes and volumes of people who have written on
this topic and I join the chorus. Really negative experiences in life
produced a drive in me to not only prove my detractors wrong, but also
prove to myself that I could do it too.
Some students who came to TAFE have the same story. Broken people who
are wanting to put the pieces back together. The outcome of success
comes not from being given everything on a silver spoon but through
genuine achievement found in hard work, perseverance and a desire to
improve oneself. Feeling connected to others is profoundly important
to success. Having a team of friendship group that not only values you
as a person, but is also happy to cajole, push and stretch you can
produce a more significant result than if you are going it alone.
Henry Ward Beecher, a 19th century American Congressman
who fought for human rights and the continued abolition of slavery
sums it up nicely; "We should not judge people by their peak
of excellence, but by the distance they have travelled from the
point where they started".
Working and interacting with people day in day out puts teachers in
line for criticism and analysis of their work. It's hard maintaining
professionalism when that criticism is unfounded. It's hard to remain
unaffected by it. But it can't define you as a professional. Some
criticism can be warranted and helpful for growth. However, criticism
that's truly negative and personal can be soul-destroying.
There will always be bullies. These behaviours are passed down from
one generation to the next or are reinforced by social groups and
peers who wish to have power over others. I can't be defined by this
Not all students will pass all the time. I'm not oblivious to that
fact. Learning is never wasted. My journey is by no means over. But to
move on, I draw on the strengths gained from past hurts. As a result,
I have more confidence in my abilities to teach and to assist students
than ever before.
This is an edited version of a post that was originally
published at Techno
in the Classroom on 11 December 2014.