I have been asked if my husband gets annoyed with me spending so much time and energy on education. “You know you need some down time… time away from teaching?” It didn’t take me long to respond. My husband is my biggest supporter. He encouraged me to apply to university as a mature age student. He encouraged me to continue with postgraduate study and when I recently got accepted to Harvard, he was very happy for me. Do certain careers need more down time than others? Doctors, musicians, air traffic controllers ..?
My son has just finished Year 12 and I wonder how many people at the age of 19 know what career they want to pursue. The advice I give my children is to choose something they believe (or think) they’ll love. Find something that gets them out of bed in the morning. Find something that benefits others. Follow their passion!
Last weekend my school provided an opportunity to learn more about leadership and working with others. It was also provided me with time to reflect. An elderly friend recently said, “Andrea, you were born a leader”. I have thought a lot about this statement and while I’m not sure about nurture or nature, I do know the type of leader I'd like to be.
- One who practises distributed leadership
- One who promotes the love of learning in teachers as well as students
- One who asks, "is this best for our students"
- One who encourages and supports others to follow their dreams and ambitions
- One who respects mentors and educators who contribute to the learning community
The results of an earlier leadership survey were not surprising, but the results did not reflect my interest in research. It did provide evidence as to why I get frustrated, where I struggle and what is needed to fuel my passion. Someone once said that I wish I had one quarter of your passion for education. Another asked me to not talk about teaching in the staffroom. To be honest, at times I feel a need to apologise for being so passionate and talkative about education. While data and procedures may not reflect my greatest strengths, connecting and collaborating with people and being innovative and creative are. It's at this time I hear Yong Zhao saying to me that education should focus on developing student’s strengths, not “fixing their deficiencies" and I'm thinking teachers should do the same. When I focus solely on my weaknesses and not my strengths, my passion diminishes. It must be the same for students.
Since starting the school year, I’ve been busy and I’m trying to work out how to work smarter. While I understand with leadership comes certain tasks that do not fuel my passion, it is my responsibility to tackle these tasks. But I also need to make time for those tasks or activities that do fuel my passion. It was after reading my Zite and Twitter feeds that I felt re-energised! Some educators may say they don’t have time for Twitter and research but at times I need these to fuel my passion. Reading just two articles helped me reflect and refocus.
- I will take responsibility for my time investment choices, and spend some energy on things that are important to me.
- Learn to become resilient. This is a work in progress...
- When it comes to difficult situations, life gives us two choices - become bitter or become better. I choose better!
A growth mindset is essential in education and I believe passion ignites further learning. When I meet my children’s teachers, I look for passion. Some may believe that high ATARs are necessary in teaching but I believe passion is the long-term attribute that will sustain effective teachers and promote our students’ love of learning.
How To Overcome The Circumstances Preventing You From Success-
Stop Playing the Victim with Your Time Management and Take Control
Yong Zhao Creative, Entrepreneurial, and Global: 21st Century Education