Following the C17 Journey: Kieran Gainsford

Voices - 10 April 2017

Participants of Cohort 2017 share their part of the journey on the Teach First NZ Programme. From the Summer Initial Intensive beginning November 2016 and right up to the end of 2018 when they complete their two years on the programme, we will hear from different participants to gain insights into their schools and communities.

The first school term of 2017, and the first term of our Cohort 2017's journey with Teach First NZ is coming to a close with Easter weekend only days away. Today we hear from Keiran Gainsford who is teaching Chemistry at Aorere College, here's his reflection on the journey so far.

Seeing the Greatness in Every Day
Kieran Gainsford 

If you’d asked me just ten weeks ago how I would describe the role of a teacher, I would have responded that a teacher is a change-maker. A teacher is a leader, showing the way forward for their students. A teacher is a facilitator who guides the young people in their care to be the best that they can be. My response today though, ten weeks into this journey, would be a little different. This is not because teachers do not get to be any of these things. Instead, it is because these ideals are exactly that. They are a guiding light for us in our work, and something to strive for in our practice.

So what, then, would I say the role of a teacher is? Reflecting on my experience so far, the role of a teacher is much simpler than all of these grand ideas. Our work is fundamentally human and fundamentally simple. We come to work and we plan, we instruct, we listen, we mark and we go to meetings. We greet our colleagues and students, we hear stories and excuses, and we reflect on our practice.

The great thing about teaching, then, is not the grandness of our work or the novelty of making big, exciting changes every day. Instead, it is in learning to see the value in the simple tasks that we do and to find real meaning in the most basic of human interactions.

I find immense joy and satisfaction in my work as a teacher, even as I endure the steep learning curve of the early mornings, the long commute, and the daily successes and failures in the classroom as I try to keep my students learning day after day.

The reason for this, I think, is because teaching is the most powerful experience I know for building my capacity to be a more connected human being. First and foremost, in teaching we need strong relationships and to be present with our students. This is the value of all the work we do, day in and day out. It is what allows us to wake up and smell the roses. It helps us to truly be there, as people, embarking on a learning journey together: after all, I have learned so much more from my students than they have learned from me!

Click here to read the previous story from 'Following the C17 Journey' as told by Ruby Grant