In the midst of the excitement that made up the Festival of Scholars last Friday, I had pause for thought and reflection about what it was that made this such a special evening. If I could have found a way to bottle what was happening, I would have done – and I would have handed it out to all those who ask the question: what is it that you love about teaching?
Let me give you just a few examples of what would be in that bottle. There would be:
I could go on. We talk tirelessly at Bethany about the habits of learning: engage, persist, question, react, and reflect – this was all of that and more. It was learning in action. It was visible development. The Festival of Scholars epitomised how pupils respond when given an opportunity to celebrate their own achievements and how they flourish when others show a real interest and engagement in what they have accomplished.
This is the reason I love my job: because there is no greater pleasure than seeing young people grow – not just academically, but also socially and personally; transforming into well rounded, confident, happy and successful people.
At Bethany we take every opportunity we can to celebrate pupil achievement. This is because we believe that it is a fundamental part of the journey to being successful. It is important that we highlight examples of where individuals have persisted and responded to challenges, where they have engaged with their learning and shown personal motivation and self-belief.
As teachers we must show the young people that we teach that we believe they can be successful, and by celebrating achievement beyond the purely academic, we counterbalance a system which can too often feel heavily weighted towards exam performance.
I shall keep the memories of last Friday evening bottled for some time. Whilst the job is not all about those ‘golden moments’, they help smooth the path and they help us to retain the focus on what is most important: if we can help pupils to be motivated to want to succeed in all aspects of their life, and retain a believe that they can do well, we will do the best by them and enable them to be the best they can be.