Let your light shine

“Let your light shine”: Ada McKim really struck a chord with me when she said these words in our interview last year. As teachers, we quite rightly spend most of our time focussing on and celebrating the achievements of our students. As any professionals should though, it is sometimes necessary to focus on what you are doing well and celebrate those achievements.

The day after this discussion I had prepared for a lesson with a group of students where they would dissect a cow’s eye to fit in with and extend their understanding of our study of lenses. I had been told by a number of people that this group would be very squeamish and would most likely freak out and refuse to take part, based on how they had reacted to previous attempts to do something similar. I was convinced that doing this dissection would be beneficial for them, and help them to get a real sense of how lenses work, making their theoretical learning more relevant. I’d therefore planned the lesson really carefully, and considered how to make the students feel calm and confident tackling something that they’d never done before and could result in them feeling a bit uncomfortable.

The lesson was a great success! The students were engaged and excited by the dissection and got very into exploring the eye, and using the lens to focus text from a newspaper cutting. I was very proud of them and what they managed to achieve, and having the conversation with Ada also made me reflect on how I had made that happen in a way that I haven’t done for quite a long time.

By thinking about their responses, I planned on how to manage the situation to make sure that things went smoothly, and anticipating their reactions meant that I had mine ready too. So later on that morning when a colleague asked me how my day was going, I let my light shine and shared what I’d done and how brilliant it felt to have made that lesson (which could have been a total disaster!) such a success.

I challenge you to take pride in the things that you have done to make your lessons and your students succeed, and to share them – it’ll make you feel great, and it’ll make you a better teacher for doing so.