I work in a Catholic school with a tradition of gathering every morning as a staff for prayer. This is something I probably used to take for granted, but in conversations with teachers from other schools have discovered that this is quite unique. A recurrent theme throughout our prayer life is the idea of a journey: usually the journey of our students which we have the great privilege of assisting in and witnessing.
But sometimes we are so focused on our students that we forget the importance of our own journey.There is something quite powerful about listening to someone have the courage to share a prayer or reflection in which they let their guard down and share their journey.
So I’ve been thinking about journeys this week. It started with a colleague sharing his reflections on his ten year high school reunion and his wedding, which happened to fall on the same weekend. The other triggering factor was when I was doing ESL support in a Year 8 English class. The subject teacher and her students were talking about quest stories and journeys, and one youngster recited “It’s not about the destination, it’s about the journey.” From the mouths of babes.
Yet, as cliche as I recognise this all is, something stuck in my mind. This year has brought a few forks in the road for me. These have mainly been personal, but I’d be a fool to say they didn’t impact upon my professional life. In fact, the reason my professional journey at my current school is coming at a cross-roads is mainly due to a personal factor. I am very excited about the new adventure that is to come, but there is a distinct tinge of sadness as well. The school I am leaving behind has played a huge part in my personal journey. I spent 4 years there as a student, with many of my current colleagues walking beside me as my teachers, and by the end of this year will have passed five years there as a teacher, almost 10 years after I graduated.
Other than a change in hair colour and style and lack of braces (thank goodness on both accounts!), there’s been a bit of journeying in between!
There were lots of teachers who influenced me as the student you saw on the left, and some of them still influence my journey now.
The Italian teacher who sparked my passion for language.
The English teacher who taught me that there was always better beyond what I thought was my best, and that I could achieve it (and she would accept nothing less!).
The House Leader and the Year 12 Co-ordinator whose kind but pragmatic natures have given me a dose of reality and wisdom when things have been tough (both as a student and as a teacher).
The leadership team who have given me great advice, support, and on the odd occasion what seemed to be an endless supply of tissues and a kind ear.
For all of them, and their influence on my journey, I am very grateful. I can only hope to pay it forward in the future as I move alongside others in a new community.
Education, as I see it, is about a journey that doesn’t necessarily have a prescribed destination. If the crucial factor of education is relationships, then the important parts of the journey come when our paths intersect, diverge, change direction and develop.