By Leland Dutcher
When I joined Seymour in 2006, it was my first teaching job. After starting in Engineering (at British Aerospace Australia), I had become an intellectual property lawyer, and my time spent as a teacher has recently eclipsed my time spent as a lawyer. I have been reflecting on why I love being a teacher at Seymour, and these are my thoughts.
1) I get to participate in people’s light-bulb moments. It’s a privilege and a wonderful thing. I am responsible for people saying, “Wow, I never understood that before!” It happens all the time. And each time, to that girl, it matters a great deal that the light turned on. I never get tired of it.
2) I get to care about people for a living. Because I teach at a level where parents may not understand their daughters’ work, I may be the only person in the world who looks at what a girl did and can say, “Well done, my good and faithful child” (to paraphrase a parable). It makes a difference to have someone care what they did. I love that.
(This is why online learning can never replace live teachers – we all crave someone who sees us and cares what we do. We teachers fill that crucial role in our students’ lives.)
3) I get affirmation that what I do matters at least weekly, and often daily, from both current and former students, and parents as well.
Specific examples that have stuck with me over the years:
- Once a girl who was back on campus the year after graduating told me that she had entered Medicine because of me. I was surprised - I asked her how that could be, as I’d only been her Maths teacher. She said, “Because you always believed in me.” Amazing.
- A girl I had taught in Year 11 and 12 give me a bottle of wine at graduation, much to my surprise. I thanked her and told her candidly that I wasn’t even sure if she had liked me! She replied with tears in her eyes that I’d been her favourite teacher - again, “Because you always believed in me.” That one made me cry, too.
So, basically, I get to “believe in people” for a living. Who wouldn’t want to do that?
4) My job is fun. The girls are clever, funny and appreciative - and this is why I’ve never wanted to leave Seymour. I joke with them about whether they are my favourite class and I tell them jokes unrelated to Maths to lighten the mood after a slog through a new type of problem. I sing once or twice a year with my Year 10s. There is banter. I try to create activities and conduct lessons in a way that make Maths more enjoyable for everyone – it is not all dry and boring, even though it is challenging and rigorous. I enjoy thinking about how to make students want to learn the material.
5) Collegiality. I love working with a team who are just as passionate about helping kids grow as I am.
For all these reasons, I remain truly grateful to do what I do.
Senior and Middle School Mathematics Teacher