Sunday, August 30, 2015

Ehara taku toa i te toa takitahi, engari he toa takitini. The Value of a Good Associate Teacher

Ive had a few occasions to reflect over my past years in education lately. Writing reflective essays on leadership styles and managing change initiatives. Reading things written by previous staff members. Meeting up with people at conferences and meetings.

So I thought I’d write a couple of short reflective pieces this week on some of the people who have influenced me over the years. 

Ehara taku toa i te toa takitahi, engari he toa takitini  
My success is not my own, but from many others

I went into training wanting to teach juniors. But I had an inspirational teaching practice in a Year 7-8 class early on in my training and never looked back, ending up teaching Year 7-8 for a significant part of my career. And it was inspirational because of the associate teacher. One of the best things was that I got to witness her in action from Teacher Only day through the first day with a new class at an Intermediate and through the first two weeks. And then two months later I got to go back for an 8 week teaching practice

I’m sure her practice is not what it was those 30 odd years ago and neither is mine. But she sure gave me a great start to this profession. The skills she taught me helped me survive those first couple of years in a way no training institution could. And she was a real person, not just an associate teacher. Even in those days, when teaching was quite different, she knew it was about relationships, and she modelled this to me inside and outside school. I kept in contact with her for the first couple of years of my teaching years but then life got in the way and we lost touch. Over the years I've seen her name in various things  and assumed it was the same person but it was great to finally meet up with her in person at a CORE breakfast in Wellington a couple of weeks ago. I didn't get to talk to her for very long, and had to head off to the meeting I was meant to be at at the end so couldn't make the time then. But I really want Olwyn to know what a difference and an influence she had on a young and impressionable teacher those 30-odd years ago. Ive thought of her often through the years and hoped she was still in teaching. 

Olwyn, you were such a model for those beginning years of my career.

And so to those of you out there in classrooms keep having trainee teachers, no matter the extra work, and the things you need to give over in your classrooms, the challenges when you ‘pick’ your class back up. It is so important for the future of our profession that those trainees have the highest and most inspirational associate teachers possible, so that they come out being prepared to be innovative themselves.

And to Olwyn Johnston, thank you for what you did all those years ago. Thank you in a deep way I could never have appreciated when I was that young trainee. 

You were important. So important. 

Tēnā rawa atu koe.

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