I’ve been hanging out with a good friend from school who was to put it mildly a proper tearaway back in the day. I was a bit of a goody two shoes at school, Deputy Head Girl, ran the school tuck shop all that sort of thing, but Pete was pretty much a slacker. Bright but disinterested and always bunking off (which I think you call “wagging”, right?) and getting into trouble. Which made it all the more amusing to find that he is now a teacher himself! A Head of Year! Super responsible and UBER, and I mean UBER passionate about teaching teenagers. Getting them engaged and really teaching them something. The irony is not lost on him either, but I honestly think that makes him into the kind of teacher he is: he can relate to the kids and give perspective. It’s been inspiring and cool to see the proper grown-up man in the boy I knew. I think the kids in his classes are just blessed to have someone like him to inspire and lead them at such a critical point in their lives.
It has got me thinking about the sheer power of teaching. How we are all blessed to have had one, or maybe more if we are lucky, incredible teachers enter our lives at just the right time, and who by the force of their personality, will and knowledge enrich and change the course of our lives forever. It also occurred to me that I don’t think I have said thank you to these inspirational teachers who have blessed my life in such different ways. I want to big it up for the teachers today. This is a gratitude and reflection fest!
It’s also made me reflect on bad teachers. And, lets face it, there are many of them out there too. I remember one particularly inept English teacher, who I will call Mister Clayton (for that was his name) (don’t worry, he’s dead). I went to many different schools as my family moved around, and I was as I said, always a bit of a girly swot. My grades were good, and I always excelled in English. Top of the class or close to it in 6 or so schools. Anyway, at 14 we moved again and I had this new teacher, this grumpy old man dressed in ancient dusty tweeds called Mister Clayton. He seemed to hate me on sight, which I just couldn’t understand having always been something of a teachers pet, AND, I started for the first time in my life to get bad marks in English! It was really upsetting. In a brand new school, the new girl yet again with all the emotion that entails, and then my superpower subject seemed to have failed me too. It was a horror, whether it was Shakespeare or the war poets or Boys From The Blackstuff, contemporary or Chaucer I was a repeated big fat fail. So I tried, I tried harder and harder to please this grumpy old man. But my mark remained a C- or a D (a D!) no matter what I did. Before long I started to lose faith in myself and started to absorb Mister Clayton’s message that I truly sucked at the written word. All the pleasure went out of writing for me. I started to dread my favourite class. He really killed English for me.
Then, at the end of the year…well…I got ranked something like 40th in the year for English (here were only 60 of us) which was the lowest fail of my life, BUT, deep deep joy. The miserable old man resigned!! There was much rejoicing in form 4Alpha I can tell you. In the next term swept this incredible breath of fresh air into our stuffy country school. Mrs. Cray, young, solo mother, from London. She swore! A lot! She invited us round to her house to read Shakespeare and drink wine! She listened! She laughed! She TAUGHT! She was BEYOND passionate about her students engagement and progress. She took us on a trip to Verona in Italy – to see Romeo and Juliet’s ACTUAL BALCONY!!! What could be cooler than THAT?! It was like being a flower and the sun coming back out. My grade shot back up. English was fun and fantastic. Learning was a pleasure. Mrs. Cray with her absolute commitment to our learning was a revelation. Not a moment too soon my grades bounced back up and confidence was restored. She changed the course of my life.
The impact of a great teacher cannot be underestimated. They have the most amazing potential for impacting lives. I want to say Thank You to the following 3 amazing women who taught me so much and each in their own way changed the trajectory my life would take:
Amazing Teacher #1
The aforementioned Mrs. Susan Cray who rekindled my courage and confidence in the written word. And not a moment too soon. I will always owe her a huge debt of gratitude. I would not have got the degree I got without her.
Amazing Teacher #2
Incredible talented yoga teacher Simona Hernandez. The synchronicity that led me to Simona at a very low point in my life cannot be overstated and it’s a post in it’s own right for another day. My first ever yoga teacher, Simona changed my life with her gentle encouragement – she helped me believe in myself and to open up to all that yoga could be. Through her example of truly living her yoga in action, thought and deed she inspired me onto a whole new course in my life. Positive Balance would never have existed without her.
Amazing Teacher #3
The inimitable Martha Beck. Training as the first Martha Beck Life Coach in New Zealand has been my absolute privilege and it’s been wonderful to see a fierce band of incredible women swell our numbers here to half a dozen. Martha’s teachings changed my life. Her books. Her training course. Her generosity of spirit to hold a mirror up and share with such generosity her darkest and most vulnerable times that others might benefit form her hard won wisdom. She writes and speaks with such with wit and courage. I would not have become a coach without her. Her writing is so powerful it left me a better version of myself.
What is the phrase: when the student is ready the teacher will appear? I know I have been blessed indeed to have such women appear in my life at such pivotal times. Each one has changed the course of my life for the better. Has put me in touch with who I really am, encouraged me to be unapologetically myself and to follow my passion and calling. I want to thank them for their commitment to being the best teachers they could be. I stand on the shoulder of giants.
And Mister Clayton? Well, he will have long passed god rest his soul. BUT I hope he is looking down and seeing that not only can I write, but I HAD MY BOOK (my book!) PUBLISHED BY PENGUIN! I think that’s what’s known as the last laugh, my friends. And a lesson that not only should we be open to the power of an incredible teacher entering our world, but to also keep faith with our own soul and inner voice. Only take what truly resonates. We want not a shepherdess to follow on blind faith but gifted teachers to inspire us higher, faster, better.
I’d love to hear who has been an influential teacher in your (or perhaps your child’s) life. Who would you like to thank today? Go on – put some goodness out there: which teachers have touched your life?