I look back at those years with fondness – they were not lessons but deftly choreographed theatre. Just sheer joy. It was real privilege to sit behind that desk!
That’s my legacy.
These are the words of a pupil I taught in the late 1990s and he recently contacted me out of the blue to share some memories.
I’m hugely flattered and really proud too.
When I think back to my beginning teaching career in London then my lessons certainly were planned with plenty of theatre in mind as a way of grabbing attention and engaging the pupils turning up to my classroom each day.
These were precious moments to make a difference and it’s wonderful to know that for this pupil, I did make an impression.
What will your legacy be?
A Relational Legacy
My example illustrates a relational legacy and it’s something many teachers will recognise. The pupil-teacher relationship is absolutely everything to successful learning and sits at the heart of effective teaching.
A positive pupil-teacher relationship is the ingredient that makes all the difference to teaching, learning and assessment wellbeing. It is the number one condition for growth.
Another legacy you can create is through your professional relationships. Your colleagues are collaborators and so supporting each other helps everyone to thrive. Perhaps you are the teacher that thrives on being that treasured colleague who has impact in the staffroom, CPD, mentoring, counselling etc.
A Teaching Legacy
You might be an astute pedagogue whose understanding of the art and science of teaching surpasses you peers and you are the person colleagues turn to for advice. This is your legacy.
A teaching legacy means having an impact in the professional development space. You might be the teacher who thrives on finding innovative strategies and methods for improving learning and assessment. You may be a deep thinker in areas related to SEND or behaviour management and your legacy might extend to writing blogs, articles, creating policies or leading conferences.
Some teachers’ legacies come in the form of seeing a problem and coming up with a solution and then watching their colleagues experience success in putting that solution into positive practice.
Your teaching legacy could be having an impact in your school, a group of schools or even across the entire profession.
A Leadership Legacy
Leadership is all about the relationships but its impact is huge, multifaceted and far-reaching. A good leader makes THE difference to a school community and creates ripples of influence well beyond the school gates.
Some leaders use their intellectual prowess, creativity and maverick charisma to stamp their identities on national debate and pave the way for teachers to pursue their ambitions, passions and dreams.
A leadership legacy doesn’t have to make the headlines but a local legacy is important so that your time is remembered for all the right reasons.
A CPD Legacy
You might be a gigging teacher on the road (or via Zoom these days) educating your colleagues and helping the profession to produce the next generation of teachers and leaders.
The potential impact of the legacy of an effective teacher trainer cannot be overstated. Some people leave the classroom with a heavy heart but they do so to inspire others in embracing the teaching profession with dedication.
The new wave of teacher bloggers, writers, podcasters, journalists and vloggers teach their colleagues and contribute significant CPD beyond what was possible 20 years ago. These people are leaving long-lasting legacies that can be read and viewed over and over again.
How you create your legacy is down to you. It can happen by accident or it can happen by design. Every career has a legacy although not always a good one.
Your legacy is something you are mostly unconsciously working on day in and day out through by just showing up at school. You are constantly building or deconstructing your reputation.
Whatever your place in the teaching ecosystem, leaving something positive behind is both recommended and essential.