The role of possibility

By Tom Porta

I am an education enthusiast. I love education and all the opportunities it provides, and this love has been with me ever since my own schooling journey. Even though I knew I wanted to be a teacher, I could not have foreseen the possibilities that have come my way and have led me to where I am today. I look back contently on the possibilities that presented themselves at times that were the least expected. Cliché I know, but being a leading teacher is something I have always aspired to and has guided me in the course of action I have taken.

My students will tell you that I am always stressing to them to take the possibilities that come their way, that the vision that they currently have for themselves will change. Not just because they themselves will change, but the people they meet and jobs they undertake will lead them to places they never thought possible. I try to awaken this possibility within them every day in the classroom - not only to dream of the possibilities, but to be a doer in life.

Research says that this generation of learners will have five different careers throughout their life, yet my students, when asked, are adamant that they will stay with the career they are currently pursuing. I can relate. If I look back to when I was as a student, I would tell you that becoming a Biology teacher was my sole career and yet I have not taught Biology in over five years!

One thing my teachers at school will tell you is that I have no hand/eye coordination (and still don’t!)  or athletic ability whatsoever and for that reason, I avoided every PE class I could. One teacher even told me that I had the upper body strength of a kitten. I can laugh about it now. Yet two years after finishing school, what did I decide to do with my life? The most obvious answer: I became a personal trainer. Go figure! During one of my teaching roles, a colleague of mine introduced me to the idea, so I took the opportunity and I loved it! I was able to educate, but in an entirely different way. It was a fantastic job – I learnt to love health and fitness in a way that I never thought I would and even brushed up on my own athletic skills.

After completing my Bachelor of Education, I started my Master of Special Education. I grew up with a cousin who lived with a disability but never thought that I would grow to love working in this area. Within the first six months of my teaching career I saw a job advertised - Head of Special Education. A new possibility had arisen - one I gladly went for.

I had doubt though. This was a leadership role and having only been practising as a teacher for a short period of time, I still had a lot to learn. Regardless, I gave it a shot as I had nothing to lose. Lo and behold, I was successful in getting this position and spent two amazing years in the role before embracing a new possibility. My current role at Seymour College has provided me with possibilities I would never have dreamed of. I have travelled to Cambodia and India, taught new subjects, run professional development with staff and, recently, I have had the opportunity to become an author in a book with a colleague.  

Would I be at Seymour now if I had not taken advantage of the possibilities I have been presented with in my life? Who knows? What I can say is that I choose not to take the route of impossibility in my life and work. I choose to create a classroom environment that fosters the idea of possibility within my students. I see how one decision can change the course of life and I want the girls to put up their hands and say, ‘Yes!’ when they themselves see something worthwhile.

Oprah Winfrey says, ‘A world of possibilities await you. Keep turning the page.’ It truly warms my heart to know that the pages of the books of my students will turn and they will become young women of strength, optimism and justice with the confidence to take up the possibilities presented to them, in this ever-changing world.

I do not know where I will be in the future but there are three certainties:

  1. That every possibility that comes my way will be taken.
  2. That my students will always be taught to embrace possibility.
  3. I will always be an education enthusiast – no matter the career that awaits me.

Tom Porta
VET and Senior School Learning Support Coordinator