We all have the power to be inspiring teachers.

As a child, like many, I worshipped my father. He was my hero, and he was my best friend. A larger-than-life character, compassionate and kind with an incredible sense of humour. Nobody could make me laugh like my dad, and nobody has since.

He was successful. From humble beginnings, he built his own law firm, and towards the end of his career, he became a judge.

He was also an alcoholic and suffered from depression.

My parents divorced when I was 5. From the age of 9, until his death when I was 31, I felt entirely responsible, alongside my sister, for looking after and caring for my dad, nursing him back to health and sobriety from hundreds of alcohol ‘benders’ and bouts of depression.

As a child, I would often fend for myself whilst he drank himself into oblivion, barely surfacing from his bedroom, often for a week.

I would bathe him, shave him, help him into clean clothes and clear the numerous empty bottles of whiskey, gin and vodka that surrounded him. He would apologise and agonise about why he was the way he was. We’d talk for hours, as I would endlessly search for ways to help him stay sober; to be the dad I needed and loved so much, and not the dad that left me alone. The Jekyll & Hyde; being the best dad you could wish for to one incapable of looking after himself or others.

When I was 10, I started at a new primary school. I met my first teacher, who was kind and caring towards me; he understood me and believed in me. He made me feel safe. He helped me to believe in myself. His kindness had a profound effect on me.

For the first time at school, Mr Collins’ passionate and nurturing approach to teaching inspired me to learn and made me confident to be curious. He brought the wonders of Ancient Egypt to life. Completely fascinated by Tutankhamon and Howard Carter, I started devouring all the class topic books, then spent hours at home, lost in my little world, writing fictional adventure stories.

In an ideal world, this is where I’d now tell you how Mr Collins’ inspired me to become a teacher, and from that point on, I always knew that was what I would be. We don’t live in an ideal world. The truth is that I had absolutely no idea what I wanted to do, and my young mind was far too full of worries to think that far ahead. I think perhaps Mr Collins did something far more important, though. I think he helped instil confidence and self-belief in me, setting me off on the right path.

Every day, I see teachers that make a positive and life-changing difference to children that need it the most. Teachers, TAs and Headteachers, give everything they have to create a safe place filled with love, kindness and hope. Building positive relationships to nurture and inspire the next generation. But you won’t find this in a statutory framework. It can’t be assessed in an Age Related Expectations test or summarised as “outstanding” or “inadequate”.

Teachers and leaders change lives through kindness, and it should give us all hope for the future because kindness holds a remarkable power to transform lives and influence society positively. Its effects extend beyond the initial action, creating a ripple effect of empathy, understanding, and connectedness. By embracing kindness, we contribute to a world where love triumphs over hatred, compassion conquers indifference, and individuals are uplifted and supported in their journey through life.

It has taken a journey of self-compassion to share my story and empowerment to no longer be ashamed of adverse experiences during my childhood. Thank you for reading it and for your kindness.

Conclusion: What is an Inspiring Teacher

In conclusion, the journey outlined in this blog reflects the complexities of human relationships and the impact of kindness. Despite Chris’s struggles, the deep connection with their father demonstrates the enduring power of love and the challenges of navigating a dual nature. The transformative influence of a compassionate teacher, Mr Collins, showcases educators’ profound effect on shaping lives and instilling confidence in children. The blog emphasizes that while the education system may not always recognize these intangible qualities, cultivating empathy, understanding, and love is the real impact. Chris’s journey reminds us that kindness can heal wounds, empower individuals, and create a ripple effect that shapes a more compassionate and connected society.

Chris Parkhouse
Executive Headteacher & Leadership Coach

Twitter @chrisparkhouse

www.chrisparkhouse.com

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