Teacher, do you remember why you love your job_

At the moment a lot of Polish teachers are on strike. Due to legal issues the official reason of the strike is the demand for salary raise. However, we all realise it’s the system itself that requires changes and virtually everyone wants to discuss the problem and promote some alternatives. What causes the strife is various approaches and perspectives people have.

I cannot go on strike as I don’t work in a public school anymore, but I already shared my thoughts on the topic on my FB page.

I know many of my teaching colleagues are torn between their duty and their desperation. The government takes them on a pretty extreme guilt trip, so they need all the support they can get (e.g. Polish artists, scientists and journalists set up a fund and after two days they collected more than 700.000 euro). Yet I believe we all know this feeling of discouragement, with more and more administrative duties, students requiring more individual care and parents who are becoming more and more demanding.

What I want to write about is a short list of things that may help you smile, lift up your chin and remember that we matter, teachers matter, that regardless of what people claim, we do change the world. And we should never, ever, stop believing that.

Sir Ken Robinson “Do schools kill creativity”

This is the most popular TED talk ever. Have you ever wondered why? I have – and I don’t think it’s because it berates the soulless system of education. I believe it’s so popular because it gives us hope – that as long as we stay true to our teaching heart, we may change the world, create better futures for our students and ourselves. The idea of education cannot exist without teachers, but teachers can succeed without the limitations of the outdated system.

Silly souvenirs

Admit it, you keep them somewhere and only pretend you don’t remember them. “Thank you” cards from your students, compositions, artwork etc. I have some poems praising my black and rotten heart written by my teenage students, an angel that looks like Darth Vader (Christmas project), a composition on eating cats (it was a joke, no cat was eaten during research), photos of delicious cakes my students made… Well, the point is: go on memory lane once in a while. All those things will remind you that you matter, your work matters, your ideas inspire your students and this is as it should be.

Dead Poets Society

My favourite films about teaching is Kung-Fu Panda and Star Wars, but every one of us who watched Dead Poets Society wanted to have a teacher like Keating, to be Keating, to have own students saying “oh captain, my captain”. Now, I’m sure we all have those moments we realise we’ve changed something – we made ours student discover something new, choose a new path, take up a new challenge. We all can be Keatings in our own way.

Don’t you forget this.

Taylor Mali “What Teachers Make”

You probably know this poem, but it’s never boring to listen to again. What do we, teachers, make?

Sir Ken Robinson “The Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything”

“We are all born with extraordinary powers of imagination, intelligence, feeling, intuition, spirituality, and of physical and sensory awareness.” Let me close my list of inspirations just as I began, with Sir Ken Robinson. If you haven’t read his book on passion – do this. Just take a look at some quotes and you will soon realise why. It isn’t only about passion, it’s also about people you need to share it with. If you struggle with a teaching crisis, this book may come in handy, because you will find a lot of stories of successful people who quit schools… but somehow still found teachers.

We will prevail, even if our educational systems will not.

Robinson, Ken; Aronica, Lou: The Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything
Publisher: Viking Books, 2009

ISBN: 9780670020478

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