From the Principal’s Desk – 1 June 2017

Dear ISH Community

On Being a Teacher

If someone asks me what I do for a living, I always reply, “I am a teacher.” That will always be my point of departure and my identity as an educator. At the beginning of the year, I was, through necessity, asked to step back into a classroom and along with my Head of School responsibilities; take on Geography (IGCSE and AS/A) and Biology (Years 8 & 9). It’s always interesting when parents then have to then work with me as their child’s teacher and not just as a manager and leader of the school. This year I’ve also been asked a few times, “Doesn’t it feel strange to be teaching?” Or, “What does it feel like to be a teacher?” Well, the truth of the matter and the answer to those two questions is, it’s the reason I am in education. I am a qualified teacher first and foremost and always have been, long before I was anything else in education. It gives me my insight to school management and leadership, my understanding of our core business (teaching and learning) and it’s always my deepest joy. Having face-to-face contact with students, building relationships, designing the complicated process of teaching and watching students engage and enjoy learning is a reward that I can’t imagine is matched in many other careers. There is great power and privilege in working with young lives, lives that can be positively influenced and shaped to impact on the world.As a teacher, you have the pleasure of meeting up with students who were in your class, your drama production, choir or sports team many years ago and when they share the success and journeys of their lives, you know that you are a part of their connection to life and that you played a part in their history. It might be small or maybe it was particularly significant but either way; you walked with them for a season and helped create their history. It’s a responsibility and calling that should be taken very seriously because teaching is all about seasons in our lives. We don’t get to live them twice so each one is crucial. We have so many teachers that we can draw on from our school years and each one comes with their own unique teaching style, actions and character. As students, we all experienced the gifting from our teachers – from the ones we feared to those we adored – each one gave us something that helped mould us in some distinctive way. We all especially remember our best and most influential teachers who laughed with us, taught with passion and energy, who held us accountable, disciplined and spoke life into us, those teachers who believed we could do it even when it seemed the odds were stacked against us.Today, teaching is often a profession that is depicted negatively, maligned and all too easily scorned in many ways. From sitcoms, films and media where teachers are portrayed as bumbling and stupid through to the more modern mediums of social media (E.g. Facebook and Whatsapp groups) used for socialising and communicating, as well as venting about schools and teachers. But we can all rest assured; the world’s medicine, engineering, digital industries, arts, religions, philosophies economies and politics, to name just a few, stand strong, steady and constantly improving on a foundation of education.

Expert education and great educators change life as we know it, make far-reaching differences to people’s lives and create memories that are embedded in emotion and aren’t easily erased. When students know a teacher loves and cares about them, is interested in their lives and their success, no matter who they are, schools are safe places for them to grow and develop; the world is affected and transformed into a better place. Teaching is an exclusive story told over and over again through one child’s life at a time. It is also a calling to a life of service and commitment to others. Yes, I am a teacher and I love being in a classroom. It centres me and reminds me of why schools really matter – it’s because teaching transforms lives, creates opportunities and underpins self-actualisation and generativity from one generation to the next.  I cannot imagine a world without education – it’s too frightening to consider what life would be like without the gifts of teaching and learning. When teachers and children are in the same space for hours each day to read, write, calculate, dream and create, the future has potential and the possibilities for personal growth and success are endless.

Yours in Education
Mr G. C. Kitching
Head of School