Well Made Teacher: Thriving In And Out Of The Classroom

We tip our hat to teachers this week, especially those that have their own family to nurture as well. Meet Sarah, primary years teacher at an International Baccalaureate School where my children attend.

When you walk into Sarah’s classroom it’s unlike any other you’ve ever been in. Picture flowers or plants on each child’s desk, Mona Lisa framed on a bookshelf, the soundtrack from Amelie playing...you may even find a lizard visiting and helping the children with their maths, sitting on their desk, or in their lap. Her way with the children is almost majestic.

She also works with a student committee called, ‘World Wide Voice’, which gives students aged 5 to 11 the chance to make a difference in someone’s life and to learn the invaluable lessons of gratitude and selflessness, with complete autonomy. The children recently raised $400 for a drinking well and immunisations, through an international charity working with at-risk kids, families and communities.

A little bit heroic? Ya, we think so.

What inspires you about your role as a teacher?

I really believe in the Reggio Emilia way of thinking in regard to the environment as the third teacher. No environment can be too beautiful for children, which is why I try the best I can to keep the room full of flowers and plants!

Fostering an ‘attitude of gratitude’ is so important for the children as well, that's why books like James Mollison's 'Where Children Sleep' is my favourite to share this year. Our weekly gratitude walks are so special too.

I also believe that International Baccalaureate brings together the children's way of seeing the world with their learning. My own girls go to an IB school and their conceptual understanding is broadened through each Unit of Inquiry and built on in future units. It is meaningful learning.

How do you find the time to go the extra mile with your students, your family and the greater community?

I am in bed by 8pm with the girls every night without fail. The major challenge for me is not enough hours in the day and sheer exhaustion! My house always looks like a tornado has run through it, (with the exception of the days my cleaner comes) and I just have to be ok with that.

My girls Eliza 7 and Bel 11, do a lot of work within the house though. They wash and hang out clothes, fold, mop, put away, cook and organise themselves and their belongings. They are really independent and all these life skills will help them when they live alone one day.

There are a few things I do though, to help me manage the busy balance juggling act. The thing that is most effective is being highly organised! I make meals during the holidays and fill up my freezer for term time. I make 6 lunch boxes on a Sunday night, so I don’t have to think about the girls’ lunch until Wednesday night. I have the world’s most enormous calendar with all girls extra curricular activities- weekends are full of parties and sport and drama rehearsals...there is never a spare second!

As well as having a system for managing the day to day needs of your young family, we also think it’s important for us working mums (and mums in general) to carve out some space for ourselves. How do you manage that?

For me, exercise is the most effective way of keeping sane. I go to the gym before work in the morning most days. I make sure I am reading a novel at all times, not just educational literature for work. I try to stay up late at least one night a week and watch a foreign film as it transports me into another country.

I use ‘HEADSPACE’ to keep myself balanced and I make sure I spend a little time in my garden each day, preferably lying on the grass and watching the birds bellies as they fly over. Hand weeding is my favourite past time, when my hands are in the earth my feet are on the ground.

What makes me the happiest? Being patient with my girls even when I have run out of puff. Taking time to read with them even if my eyelids feel like they need match sticks to stay up and letting them do one more show, or tell me one more funny story before bed.

We thank Sarah for taking the time to chat with us and share with our WMM Community!