I think it was mid-October when it hit me; I’ve been a freelance, private teacher for over a year now. Full time, full of amazing moments of learning and sharing, full of questions and answers, full of life in all shapes and forms. Have things been going well? Yes, ultimately yes. Even though I’m not entirely sure where some of all this time has gone, even though a thing or two still require some work, it’s forward we go, carrying all this wealth. And I say ‘we’ because it’s not just me moving ahead. With each step, a whole community leaps forward, as we all keep learning from each other and touching each other’s lives in so many different ways.
As the year draws to its end, it’s time to reflect; only this time I’ll reflect on the reflections. Because our thoughts require review every now and then. I started going back through the posts on this blog and, not surprisingly at all, my online reflective practice is largely part of Shelly‘s #30GoalsEDU challenges. Indeed those came at the right time, when I needed them the most, and I’m eternally grateful for having the opportunity to be part of this superb movement. #iTDi has been a blessing. Simply. Regrettably, I’ve never really gotten round to contributing. I will.
I could start thanking precious people personally, but that would take ages, and I don’t want to forget anyone. In the hope that I’ve shown clearly who you all are, I’ll thank you collectively for being part of my life and work all through this year. I honestly can’t think of any future without you in it.
Reflection is also going to be collective; where things really start taking form, what happens in between and what are the aspirations for the future.
Where do things begin? For me, it all starts with love. The love you already have for what you do, the love you build while you educate yourself further, the love you receive right back from the receivers. You don’t choose it, it’s there already, waiting for you and anyone who wants to be part of it.
No, I didn’t always want to be a teacher, just always considered the ability to share one of the two most vital skills for any person. The second is the ability to listen; to both yourself and others. There are many things that can be shared and lots of ways to share them, but it all begins inside each of us, teachers and learners. You just have to catch that thread and pull it outward, pass it on, let it unfold. Sometimes it’s barely visible, other times you have to pull harder or you might need to straighten it along the way. But it’s always there.
And does it really work? Yes. Well, it does for me at least. If I didn’t love what I do, I just wouldn’t be doing it. It’s hard and rewarding. It’s as it should be. It’s as you make it. Contradiction? I don’t think so. We sometimes let things happen and other times we put a firm foot down and say ‘that’s what I’m doing’. The care you take in making everything happen makes all the difference. You try, you succeed, you fail. And you start again because you care deeply for your work, the people involved, the possibility of success, the mishap of failure, the potential of everything. I learnt something about myself some time ago: I need to explore and discover. That’s what motivates me, although it’s been lost to me on occasion. And that’s what I try and share with others, be it learners or colleagues. You cannot cease to investigate, you cannot afford to sit and wait for everything to form. Even though at times you just have faith, it’s more often that you should shape it.
When I see students of mine taking those steps, I’m not only proud. I’m grateful. They saw it, they experienced it and I was blessed to stand by their side. How does that happen, when you’ve got a syllabus to cover? It happens because the syllabus is there but so are we. And private tutoring has helped prove this to me. The knowledge you gain by stepping into someone’s world is immense, the connection you form is remarkable and the outcomes are not only educational, but also a wholesome approach to being. Private does not mean secluded, it means focused. In fact, this year’s lessons are by far the most exposed of all I’ve ever done. Exposed to their peers, my peers, to the world. And a good job they are.
I’m not saying I’ll never work for a school again. I’m just happy to have experienced something different and new. This year has had such an impact on me and my students. The technical details, legalities and bureaucracy of it all have been, well, Greek. It sure wasn’t easy, still isn’t. But I love that too, because it helps make it all happen.
What does the future hold? I’m still pursuing my private lessons. I’ve taken some fully online. For the ones that didn’t work out, I’m in the process of reviewing. The ones that worked are of course ongoing. The world that has opened up for us this year can never be shut down. Things have begun for both me and my learners and we’re happy to be working on what means the most to us. I know that some of them will go their own way after the summer. I thought it would hurt, but it doesn’t now and I don’t think it will then. Some things need to be allowed to leave you, in the knowledge that they don’t have to come back but also that the door has been and will remain open to them.
The future can only be bright if we make it so. If we stop waiting and start doing. If we involve ourselves and everyone in what is truly worthy of our efforts; common sense in everything. Could that be achieved? Not a clue. I don’t know much. I’m learning a lot, constantly. From the few things I know, as I’ve already told the most significant people in my life right now, I can share this:
Believe in people, with all the good that we make bad and all the bad that we turn good. Believe in education and educators, believe in learners. Prepare the ground for everyone to contribute. We can shape things and make them move. Even if it’s backwards; it will soon turn in the right direction.