Throughout my life I have been blessed with some amazing teachers. Both at school myself, then during my teaching career.
Primary school started with Rick Merrington who taught me in Form 1 and 2. He was an amazing man who read us the whole of The Hobbit and always made sure all of us were engaged and excited about learning. I have a lot to thank him for, but sadly have no idea where he went to so I can tell him how much of a difference he made in my life.
My High School days were not as exciting unfortunately and only 3 teachers stand out for positive reasons - along with quite a few that stand out for other reasons that I won't go into here! One was my Form 5 English teacher, Margaret Grundy, who changed the way I saw English and actually made it interesting. She was full of life and always positive and her role as my Form teacher meant we got plenty of time with her. The other teacher who had a huge impact on me was my Music teacher - no surprise there. Stuart Martin was a young teacher who had boundless energy and often went out of his way to inspire students and support music in the school. He gave me opportunities that pushed me and made me a better musician. Highlights included our tour to the Tauranga Jazz Festival, playing in the National Jazz Orchestra and musical productions.
Stu Buchanan was a special person in my life, being involved in my music education, teaching me sax, clarinet and flute and then giving me opportunities to play at a high level with him and Ian Edwards. He also taught me a lot about music arranging and was a good friend with whom I had some interesting discussions with all the way through my life. I do believe that music teachers have a huge role to play in student's lives and can make a huge difference when they connect with students and the community.
University was not the most inspiring for me - with my main outlet being MUSOC and musical directing. I fought the system more often than went with it and this, although not liked by the Music Department particularly, gave me resilience and strength to fight for what I believed in. My time at Teacher's College was difficult as we had a line of relievers who often knew less than we did and I could hardly wait to get out on teaching practice. Tony Ryan was one of my teachers during this time, and while the musical production was on, he showed me how dedicated and motivating a music teacher can be.
Once I started teaching I was lucky enough to be teaching under Ward Clarke as Principal. Ward is an inspiring man and I still see him today. One thing I learnt from him was about the importance of valuing your staff. Every time I did something extra at school he wrote a letter of thanks. These were not just quick notes, but well thought out and heartfelt letters thanking us for how we were adding to the school and the community. This has stuck with me (I still have those letters) and I make it a priority to do the same for my staff and for those who work with me on projects. I look at the staff who supported me in those first few years of teaching and realise the quality of the people I was surrounded by - Gilbert Enoka, Phil Holstein, Mike Fowler - all leaders in their fields. It was an honour to have them to talk to and bounce ideas off.
My years of teaching have seen me work with a range of staff and although I can't single any out, I certainly learnt a lot at every school I went to. I would say the students were the most important, inspiring me to push my teaching and to learn new ways of student management. This continued until I came to Hagley where Brent Ingram and Andy Gorton pushed me to do more, think more and show what I was really capable of.
My thinking has changed a lot over the last 5 years and I feel doors have been opened and I have been exposed to a wide range of ideas. Twitter has been a huge learning base for me - amazing how much I have learnt from scrolling through and clicking on links to articles. I have #futureschools, #chched, #edchatnz, #globaled15, #edtechchat, #OneNote, #EdBlogNZ, #aussieED, #edbeat and #cenz on my check frequently list and I am always looking for more.
My Feedly is a reading kete full of great blogs - too many to mention here. It always gives me something to read and think about and keeps me in touch with new things to learn.
As far as world known educators are concerned, you can't go past Ken Robinson 's famous "Do schools kill creativity?" video. John Hattie and Michael Fullan are wonderful educators with great ideas. I have been to a couple of conferences where I have heard Angus MacFarlane talk about our Maori learners and he is so inspiring. There are so many books I have read and so many conferences I have been to that change my practice and help push me to be the best I can be.
I have discovered that the best way to be inspired is to listen to others, challenge yourself and believe you can change things for the better. Keep learning, keep reading and ask questions. Surround yourself with people that support and push you, people who have vision and who want to learn.
“The best thing for being sad," replied Merlin, beginning to puff and blow, "is to learn something. That's the only thing that never fails. You may grow old and trembling in your anatomies, you may lie awake at night listening to the disorder of your veins, you may miss your only love, you may see the world about you devastated by evil lunatics, or know your honour trampled in the sewers of baser minds. There is only one thing for it then — to learn. Learn why the world wags and what wags it. That is the only thing which the mind can never exhaust, never alienate, never be tortured by, never fear or distrust, and never dream of regretting. Learning is the only thing for you. Look what a lot of things there are to learn.”
― T.H. White, The Once and Future King