Start with why: motivation for September and beyond?

September is just around the corner and for some teachers it can be hard to gear themselves up for a new year after the summer holidays – myself included at times.

There are plenty of reasons why teaching is a tough job and finding negative things to read about being one is a fairly easy task these days – The Guardian’s Secret Teacher series is usually a good bet. Although it’s one way to give teachers a voice, the stream of negativity can get tiring as Alex Quigley explains so well in his blog post, The Secret Teacher Antidote. In fact, his post made me want to write my own one as an antidote to all that.

I was going to put together something like ’10 reasons why being a teacher can be great’ and then it dawned on me that actually it’s much simpler than that. Best-selling author on leadership, Simon Sinek has a theory called The Golden Circle, which explains why some leaders and organisations inspire when others can’t. Essentially, they explain why they do what they do, then how they do it and finally what they do.

Sinek says, all organisations can explain what they do – that’s the easy part. Some can explain how they do it, but only the most successful start with why they do it. They become successful because people don’t buy what you do, but why you do it.

It can be applied to teaching too. If you take a moment to focus on (or remind yourself)  why you teach, then it can serve to inspire yourself as well as others. So:

  • Why do you teach?
  • What is your purpose?
  • What is your belief about being a teacher?
  • What is your cause?
  • Why do you exist as a teacher?

My ‘why’

Despite the fact that we are now in the 21st century, it’s still true to say that a child’s life chances are largely determined by the circumstances they are born into. I find this post code lottery of life deeply uncomfortable at best and genuinely believe that a good education is one tool that can help give children choices and enable them to dictate their own future instead.

Yes, it’s a bit cheesy, but when I strip it down and try to explain it in just a few sentences, then I think that’s it.

Call to action

Apply Simon Sinek’s Golden Circle to yourself and really question why you teach. Then share your ‘why’ in the comments below. I would love to read them and share them. Collectively, they could be a real antidote to the Secret Teacher and also remind us all why we are there come 1st September.

Oh and I’d definitely recommend you watch the whole of Simon Sinek’s TED talk here. It could be a useful exercise to do as a whole school too, I’m sure I’ve heard of some schools doing it already.

good question by e-magic
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3 comments

  • I teach because I want to help prepare children for life in our digital age and I love watching and learning from the process of learning itself. It fascinates me!

  • I was brought up in a low income family and on a large council estate. Many of my friends did not access a good education due to their home circumstance and their behaviour (which could partly be attributed to their home circumstance).

    My education was fantastic because I went to a primary and secondary with teachers who believed in me. I want to inspire children to believe in themselves where inspiration is not always high. This desire has dictated the type of provisions and schools that I have worked in. I need to work in schools where I can inspire to the greatest degree.

  • Why I Teach.

    This post it a response to Claire Lotriet’s post, which you can read here. We’ve started back in Scotland already, but having read Claire’s post I knew I wanted to respond and have my response on my blog.

    Why do I teach?

    I teach because I want to make a difference to young lives, to provide children with some skills and attitudes for their whole lives.

    I want children to have the confidence to be themselves, I want them to be able to work out or find out what it is they need, to do what it is they need to do. I want children to be open to new experiences and not just follow a crowd…unless that crowd is going where they really want to go.

    What do I believe?

    I believe if you want to, then you can. I’m no musician, but I’ve got a BEd degree in it through hard work and hours spent practicing. If I can, anyone can, and our children certainly can and I believe as a teacher I need to instil this core belief in all the young people I meet in a school day.

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