Running up that hill: a Thank You

On Thursday, I was awarded joint Law Teacher of the Year at the Northern Law Awards with the wonderful Jenny Jarvie of Bishop Auckland College. I was thrilled to share the award with such a passionate, caring, innovative teacher. We were both called upon to give an acceptance speech. This post is an extended version of mine.  

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Last Saturday, I did parkrun. Have you heard of parkrun? Free, timed, 5k runs, 9am every Saturday. Have a look at the website – there’s bound to be one near you. My local parkrun takes place at Whitley Bay.

Now, I run to think. I use the time to work things out in my mind, and to draft and re-draft speeches, bits of conference papers, applications, titles of blog posts etc.

You might think that a seafront run would be fairly flat.  And indeed there is a lovely start at my parkrun, where we run down a slope onto a long pathway parallel to the sand with the lighthouse in front of us. But about halfway round the course there is a humdinger of a hill. The sort of hill that makes you take a deep breath. The sort of hill that makes your head bow low (don’t look at the top, don’t look at the top…!).

I’ve been drafting some long documents for a few weeks now. Documents that require me to talk about my teaching practice, and why I love to teach. I’ve written and re-written over 10,000 words, carefully crafting statements that attempt to show what it is that makes me get up and go to work.

As I approached the hill of doom last Saturday, it suddenly dawned on me. It was oh so simple:  there were two reasons why I loved my job.

My colleagues. My confidence building, supportive colleagues who put the student experience at the heart of everything they do even in the most challenging of times.

My students. My bright, articulate, capable students whose varied interests outside of their academic life make them so exciting to work with. Many of our former students are in this room tonight, up for “Rising Star” or “Trainee of the Year”. We are so so proud of you. Well done. We are proud of all of our students and everything they achieve.

Buoyed by those thoughts, I soon found myself at the top of the hill. Not only that… I got a Personal Best(!). I will continue to try to do my best for my colleagues and for my students for the remainder of my teaching career. Thank you.

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