Photo by Photo by Brad Barmore
“What lies behind us, and what lies before us, are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson.
When was the last time you thought about something in your life that you have made a conscious effort to improve, for example, increasing exercise by going for a 15-minute walk each day? Or perhaps, the better question would be when was the last opportunity you had any time to reflect on your personal or professional growth?
Some days it takes everything to stumble out of bed and into the kitchen.
It seems that everything in life is rushing at you, around you and chasing you from breakfast and into a late-night snack. Not to quote Dolly Parton, but teaching and leading a school is much more than a 9 to 5 job. While system and department policies have requirements that every teacher and school leader must successfully demonstrate growth as recorded in their Professional Development Plan, the reality is that this process applies to a work setting and does not recognise nor measure personal growth achieved in those minutes left each day.
There are any number of motivational talks, books and otherwise that claim to have the answers of how to self-reflect, measure personal growth, and perfect the heel-toe polka! School days are filled with planning, marking, excursions, finding a car park in the morning and getting home before dark. Family time, social and recreational time compete for your attention. Any combination of these challenge the best of us.
It would be very hard to find a teacher or school leader who does not focus on improving outcomes for students. Students are taught how to set goals and reflect on their learning. Students are encouraged and supported to develop the skills to read. Learning to read is an obvious example of personal growth. Learning to teach the skills needed to read is an example of both professional growth and personal growth.
Teachers and school leaders learn their craft best through experience. Learning to teach and to lead and manage a school is a process that includes self-exploration, self-reflection, motivation and is driven by an innate desire to grow, as a person and as a professional.
While it is much easier to talk about professional growth, it can be more difficult to talk about personal growth which all too often falls into the space between work and home. This speaks to the need to find a healthy work/life balance.