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What gets me up in the morning: 'Lighting that spark in my pupils and making sure they know how to use an apostrophe'

I take great satisfaction from knowing that I have played a small part in helping children to become who they really are

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I take great satisfaction from knowing that I have played a small part in helping children to become who they really are

For me, teaching is as much a spiritual journey as anything else. Teaching contributes more to our society than any other profession.  

Great teachers are caring adults who believe in the next generation and bring out the best in their students. They know that learning is a natural process that develops spontaneously and that their hugely privileged role is to act as a catalyst, enabling their pupils to become free independent thinkers embarking on a lifelong voyage of discovery. 

When I look back to the great teachers in my own life, I remember courageous, kind, honest, compassionate individuals, all of whom saw something in me and who helped to light that spark. I earnestly hope that I will have left a similar legacy.

'Moments of pride'

I guess that all teachers have their "eureka" moments. One of my most profound was when one of my pupils – Katie (not her real name), a profoundly dyslexic child in Year 5, stood up at a creative writing conference and asked if she could perform her poem in front of an audience of some 1,500 people. As her English teacher, I have to confess to a frisson of nerves as English did not come easily to her. There were parents and children from at least 10 schools in the crowded auditorium. Yet I need not have doubted her as Katie’s impassioned rendition of her own highly original and beautiful poem met with a standing ovation. 

As I looked forward 30 years through the crystal ball of my imagination I saw her as a fearless, wise, compassionate woman and a natural leader – the future chief executive of a FTSE 100 company?  The first female Archbishop of Canterbury?  A happily married mother of three just having completed her third book? The fact that I can have had anything to do with helping her or my other pupils to become who they really are is what gets me up in the morning. That, of course, and knowing that they know how to use an apostrophe correctly! 

James Glasse is a tutor and education consultant who writes on educational and related issues

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