The following is an excerpt from ‘Unearthing Why: Stories of thinking and learning with children’, written by Clare Britt and Jill McLachlan. (2020, p.28).
Have you ever been surprised to find yourself in the classroom? Might seem a strange question — but it happened to me.
As a beginning teacher I was startled to find my ‘self’ so vividly in the classroom with me. I was there … in living, moving colour. Somehow I’d managed to imagine myself differently than I actually was.
Over the years of my training I had unknowingly been building an image of myself as a teacher — I had imagined what teaching would look like, how it would feel. What I had not counted on in all my imaginings was the significant gap between what I imagined and what I experienced.
What I experienced wasn’t bad; it just wasn’t at all what I expected.
There I was in the classroom, me — all of me.
Alongside my joy, passion, creativity, and unwavering commitment to children, there they were — my insecurities, frustrations, exhaustion and disappointments. How had these unseemly little critters made it into the school? I certainly had not invited them.
And so came one of the most important lessons I’ve learned as a teacher:
I am in the room. Not some image of me, not some idealised version of myself — me.
That realisation came to me partnered with an equivalently important sense of responsibility.
If I am going to be ‘in the room’ then I am determined to find ways of unearthing what I bring and making who I am visible and open to question, not wanting to be caught unaware of how my presence influences the children I teach.