We can view our teaching career in two different ways: as a series of roles, promotions, qualifications and upskilling, or as a story of pivotal moments that changed and shaped our practice.
The first way looks more at the big tangible moments, whereas the latter is in the smaller, but just as significant, human moments. They may not be as recognisable to others, and there mightn’t be a certificate to mark that growth, but it’s there all the same. We really do believe it’s the little moments, our lived experiences that matter most on our journey.
But which moments matter? Who decides? In a long career, how many stand out moments should there be?
That is all entirely individual, and the key really is that the experience is just the first step. We have to recognise it as ‘a moment’, and then do something more - reflect on it, learn from it, and take action because of it. And it maybe won’t be a simple linear process, it may be years later something clicks in, or we link a past experience with something happening now and have an epiphany moment.
It won’t all be rosy, some of the moments that confront and challenge us will be our greatest source of learning - IF we choose to examine it, rather than just sweep it away.
We can’t pre-select what the moments will be, or when they’ll strike. It’s not about waking up and deciding today will be the day of a transformational experience.
What we do need is to be open to learning from what occurs naturally (not just ‘book learning’), and awake enough to be present to what is happening, and to grasp what is significant. If we try to force it, to manufacture an experience, it won’t have the same result. It won’t be genuine and we’ll only be learning the lessons we want to, not the ones we need to.
A moment will take us by surprise and we’ll know it’s ‘something’ because it will cause a stir in us. It might be just a twinge, a curiosity pique or a pang of remorse, or it could be a full blown hit in the feelings. All those moments mean something if we let them.
Whether what happened makes us cringe in shame, burst with joy, or shed tears of sadness, it is rich material for our development - both professional and personal as we truly believe these aren’t separate ‘realms’.
It helps us unpack our default settings, and identify any ill-fitting ‘how to’s we’ve picked up along the way.
We get to hold our practice up the light and check if it’s aligned with our values. Then we can take the brave step of moving forward and growing into alternatives. These little moments are then not so little, are they? And they are certainly as valuable as any education we pay for.