They say that memory becomes less effective with age. Even though I’m heading into a new decade in a couple of months time, I’m yet to find myself in that feared state of momentary confusion.
I do have some fail safe habits that keep me organised: writing lists is a clear winner for me. I have an awesome app on my iPad that syncs with every device I own and coordinates my daily life with amazing accuracy. I do love a list, though I have noticed that the lists I write get longer every day and have started to include tasks that ordinarily I wouldn’t need to be reminded of doing. Maybe that is a result of the massive sense of satisfaction I get from ticking off jobs – I have been known to write jobs on to the list after they have been done, just to have the pleasure of crossing them off again and feeling chuffed with my achievements!
If only that app could dish out congratulatory chocolate after I’ve achieved my daily goals… now, that is something one of my students should invent!
It never ceases to amaze me how many memories from long ago are clear as a bell. When I glance back through my childhood, there are key moments that pop up in my mind. Memories of inspiring people: my Dad, as I joined him at the end of a long Sunday run, eager to keep up and in awe of his everlasting energy; an English teacher, whose love for literature brought books to life before my very eyes; my hockey coach, an elite athlete at the top of his sport, whose dedication and commitment taught me how to apply myself to be the very best I can.
Then there are inspiring moments: the end of Gold Duke of Edinburgh, the exhaustion yet exhilaration of our achievement; scraping my A Levels, the disappointment yet relief that I could follow the career of my dreams; and my doctoral graduation, the one time in my life I felt like Einstein in my gown and cap, a moment I will truly treasure forever.
As I enjoy my seventeenth year of teaching I can also vividly remember the inspiring people whom I’ve had the fortune to work with. Teachers, whose passion for their subject is contagious and lights up the eyes of their students and takes them to new levels of understanding. Support staff, whose care and devotion to others removes barriers and obstacles from their paths and enables them to experience successes that they never believed possible. So many encounters have inspired me to want to be a better teacher, manager, leader and person. And those memories come back to me in times of difficulty, when I need to decide on our next steps and so draw inspiration from those around me and from my memories to give me greater clarity on my actions and goals.
And why have I been thinking about this? We took a coach full of our students to the Skills Show UK today.
Surrounded by skills and knowledge, inspiring people and engaging activities, it was their unbridled excitement, engagement and enthusiasm that reminded me of the impact that such encounters can have. Judging by their comments and never ending tweets, this will be a day to remember. A day that, I’m sure, they will look back on in years to come and fondly recall how it inspired them to pursue new dreams.
Who knows, maybe one of them will invent that chocolate rewarding tick list I’m dreaming of!
Dr. Rona Mackenzie is Principal of Lincoln University Technical College (UTC). She has a strong background in education, having worked in six local authorities during her career, and is passionate about providing an education that meet the needs of young people and their community industries. She is a keen sportswoman and mountaineer, recently trekking to Everest Base Camp, and has an interest in photography.