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What gets me up in the morning: amazing pupils who inspire me to reflect on my own character

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Every teacher has their own ideal of a model pupil but I imagine there are some common traits that would feature in any definition: hard work and a genuine desire to progress; the willingness to take on feedback and meet deadlines; good manners and a pleasant disposition.

For me it is all of the above plus the opportunity for introspection it provides. A pupil whose approach to school and life inspires me to reflect on my own character – whether it be how I seek to improve as a teacher, parent or member of society. Grand terms indeed, but all too often I feel I am so busy planning, teaching and striving to be a role model for these young minds, that I do not immediately realise there is something to be learnt from pupils too. How they conduct themselves with others, how they learn, assimilate new information, push themselves out of their comfort zones in trying new things, always with a smile on their face and a thank you as they leave the room – we could all learn from them.

I often find it difficult to concentrate over a whole day of CPD. As I listen to one presentation after another, partaking in activities while sometimes inwardly questioning their utility, I realise how bad a pupil I have become. These model pupils get on with a task, keeping an open mind to its benefit. They support their peers, follow something through in a timely fashion and often go the extra mile. Their ability to evaluate their strengths and weaknesses enables them not to rest on their laurels, but constantly strive to better themselves. As a parent I have often wondered how these pupils have been raised to become such positive individuals. Talking to their parents I try to garner an idea of what their secret is, how have they raised them, is there a trick, method or approach I can employ with my own children as they grow up?

So while I try to value all pupils, I know that there are some that I will fondly remember for what they have taught me.

Miren Jayapal is deputy head of maths at a school in London

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