The best jobs in the world – leading, teaching and learning in schools in the 2020’s
Below is a link to an article in The Age written by former independent school Principal Allan Shaw. Allan has been a Principal in two states, a deputy in two, and a teacher in three. Starting his career as an Art teacher, and ending up a Principal, he is not a ‘typical’ Principal (what ever that may be!), nor has he followed a ‘typical’ pathway (again, what ever that may be). While he was last the Principal at a neighbouring school, that has only offered me the opportunity to develop a strong friendship and admiration for Allan. He is a thoughtful, calm and measured man, an impressive leader and an even more impressive human being. His article on leading schools, contemporary education, the importance of teachers as mentors and guides is very interesting and gives a true insider’s view of what makes for great schooling in the 2020’s and beyond.
One of his most telling points is about the passion and commitment that good teachers give as a matter of course. Great teachers (and we have lots of them at Tintern) understand that the academic delivery is very important, and do it both very well, and with a personal and emotional investment in wanting to see their charges do their best. As the key historical element of education (academic progress), this is clearly very important. But our teachers also see their further responsibilities clearly. As teachers and leaders we are mentors and role models to the young people in our schools. We are guides and sounding boards, and our teachers are always doing this with the end in mind – the way our graduates will view and engage with the world after they finish school.
So while the significance of optimal academic progress must always be a focus, as Allan writes in the article, there is so much more needed, expected and required in schools in 2021, and it is our kind, caring, impressive and capable teachers who are delivering it. Doing this through a screen is a ‘one hand tied behind our back’ constraint, and yet they are in fact doing so in a really impressive way, as so many parents have written to me to say. One of the terrific aspects of the lockdown (and there aren’t too many!) has been parents being able to sit and listen to their children being taught at the same table or in the same room as they are working. Our young people are developing accelerated independence, self-management and planning and organisation, whilst also managing the challenges of isolation and restriction, all supported and guided by our really impressive staff.
It’s is not often that I can say that any feedback is universal, but in this case, the only feedback I have had on the work of our teachers has been affirming, admiring and grateful. There is a real understanding in these emails and messages around the effort this requires of, and the toll this takes on, staff at all levels in the School, but particularly in the younger years. As with our students, during remote learning our staff members’ ‘buckets’ get drained more quickly, and are more difficult to refill under lockdown restrictions. I know I, along with all our staff, are very grateful for the recognition of this by parents. Similarly, I am very grateful to our staff for their instinctive, active and uncomplaining embrace of the challenges of online learning, and how they impact all our staff, not just our teaching staff.
I hope you enjoy Allan’s article below.
Farewell to the best job in the world – Allan Shaw
factis non verbis