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Confirmation of our vocation as teachers (if you need it)

By Sam Di Sano on 15 March 2019NSWstaffroomMotivation

There comes a time in everyone’s professional life where you may feel defeated. Here are a few snippets to help overcome this.

I recently came across an article saved from the Sydney Morning Herald, written in December 1997 as part of a series on "My Sporting Hero", written by the former Australian Test Cricketer Geoff Lawson. Lawson paid tribute to a little known character, Derek Rogers, who influenced him significantly as a teacher, coach and friend, during his formative years in Wagga. Here is some of what he wrote:

“There were a group of adolescents playing together at that time, who all had a bit of ability at the game, and Derek made every effort to help us with any element of the technical and, more importantly, the mental side of the game. He treated us like adults and we responded as such ... As I progressed through High School, I did my best to be in D Rogers' class. Ancient History had always appealed to me... well, ever since the value of out-swing on a proper line and length became part of the curriculum. At that time, he was also my first-grade captain and I learnt so much about the complexities and nuances of the world's finest game. True heroes don't come along all that often… and they are often distant and elevated. Not that man!”

Derek Rogers was killed in a car accident at the same time that Lawson made his Test debut in India in 1979.

An article by Suzanne Covich appeared in Score (Volume 4, No 4 1997), entitled "The Classroom Teacher and Story Telling: A Key Link in Pastoral Care". In it, Covich argues strongly for the importance of the classroom teacher in the lives of his or her students who may need special care and concern:

'These students… share it (their hurt) with their teachers - teachers who are seen to be open and honest; teachers who are recognised for their ability to work with them… For me, the greatest gifts I have to bring to the classroom in terms of pastoral care, are the stories of my own life and experience.
In many instances, it is the role the teacher plays in relation to pastoral care that makes the link and helps to provide a supportive network for the student...
Story-telling has a powerful role to play in pastoral care, both for students and teachers. Let us not be so obsessed with control, productivity and getting it right to the point of forgetting the importance of listening to one another.'

And finally, this excerpt on the vocation of teaching from Ruth Cracknell’s, Journey From Venice, A Memoir, 2000, pp 109-110

'In another life, Eric and I are walking around the Doge’s Palace. Eric has taken photographs; we look at everything. We are tourists. Many people about, but not crushingly so. There is a group of boys being taken around by their teacher. He is a very ordinary looking man – middle-aged, average, nothing to distinguish him from the many other teachers we have seen leading groups of all ages through Venice and around the treasures. Except… his boys are speeding through every corner, coming to abrupt halts, looking, really looking, at everything they see constantly flying back to him with individual questions, individual comments.
Their faces are alight, their energy boundless. Sometimes they all gather around him and he talks at length. They drink in everything he tells them, dash off again, sometimes alone, sometimes in pairs, sometimes staying in a group. Their chief delight is to share with him. His chief delight is to teach. They absorb, they grow, they open out – they are bursting out of their buds. We watch it happening and something rubs off – a light dusting of pollen perhaps. These boys do not have to be disciplined. Their flight around the Palace offends none. Wherever they alight they give pleasure. I think to myself that to be a great teacher is the most rewarding job in the world. A direct, unwavering, reliable track …'

In amongst the endless negativity, I hope these three snippets help confirm for you as much as they do for me, the nobility of our vocation; one in which we are able to bless, encourage, enthuse and offer hope to the young charges in our classrooms in every moment we share with them.

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