A (long) while ago I wrote a blog post about conference keynotes. You can read it here. Basically, it was somewhat of a whinge-fest about how fed up I was about going to conferences only to be left disheartened and uninspired by the speakers and, on reflection, the education system as a whole.
I was yearning for someone to make me stop and listen, to make me stop ‘multitasking’, to make me stop and just take it all in. To be in the moment. I wanted someone to shake me out of my seat and make me feel excited about our profession again, to speak to me like they knew me, like they could read my mind and give me that little push I was so desperately seeking. I attended conference after conference and while I saw so many amazing speakers none of them were able to give me the kind of buzz I was after. Maybe my expectations were too high. Maybe I was looking in the wrong place.
I can’t tell you why I wanted this. I’ve often wondered. At the time of writing that post I was bored, I was wanting more from our profession. I was wanting more from my job. It wasn’t enough. More learning, more engagement, more excitement about learning and education. Maybe it is because I am so enthralled by education, I wanted to find someone who ferociously felt the same…so I kept looking to the stage. Maybe it is because I was in somewhat of an ‘education rut’ and needed some enthusiasm to spur me on, to keep on keeping on. Maybe I just wanted to learn more. Whatever it was…I know now that what I was after, wasn’t to be found on a conference stage.
As teachers, we are so often put down in the media and in society. Often by our very own friends and family. It seems as though anyone who has been to school thinks they’re an expert on all matters of education. Our profession is often laughed about…oh, we get so many holidays…how great it is to work a 9-3 job…you know what they say…if you can’t do…teach. How blatantly disrespectful to the human beings (people often forget that teachers are just that) who can spend hours and hours antagonising over how best to help just one child. How disrespectful to the university educated person who you think colours in and cuts and pastes all day. Teachers deal with this and more all the time. The hours lying awake at night thinking about the best way to help a child, the hours working on the weekends and late at night just to get through the week. The blatant abuse and disapproval from some parents. The system pressures and data-driven bureaucracy. The constant game of political football.
Being in educational leadership is on top of that, a whole other ball game.
It’s easy to find oneself searching for motivation.
A few key things have occurred in the past year for me, that now on reflection have made me realise that that ferocious person I was after to give me that little kick was never going to be found on a stage. In fact, as it turns out, it’s not even one person.
It’s the conversations. The light bulb moments. The pure excitement and looks on children’s faces and those of their teachers I see every day. It’s my continued dedication to always wanting more, to being more, to making change. It’s watching things I’ve worked hard at succeed. It’s learning from the things that didn’t. It’s surrounding myself with like minded people. It’s my mentors. Sometimes it’s the littlest moments, all you have to do is notice them.
It’s easy to be overwhelmed by our work and find ourselves bogged down in the hard and the negative. But when you take time to soak it all in, the amazing job that we do shines through. And that is all the motivation I need.