Whether you are new to teaching, an experienced teacher, or in fact, a professional of any kind, you should be sure to reflect, identify and articulate your moral purpose.
Your moral purpose is the epitome of all your decision-making; whether it is the reason you go to work, see your friends, partake in hobbies or spend time with family, these are the principles that govern your every decision. But sometimes we find ourselves questioning why we do what we do.
Relating this back to a school setting, a moral purpose is often centred around the children. Which seems obvious, right? But, depending on our experiences, beliefs and attitudes, we may find ourselves in the teaching profession for a whole host of reasons.
For those who are not involved in teaching, they may guess “It’s for the holidays,” or “You do it for the money,” (I am sure you consult your inner strength to stay composed to deal with this one), and maybe for a few, that is the case. However, for most, it has something to do with making a difference.
Some want to provide a better educational experience than the one they received; some want the chance to be able to broaden at least one child’s experiences; some find how a hidden part of them comes to life in the classroom setting; and some just love the interaction with curious minds. Whatever your reason is, be clear and true to yourself.
I often ask colleagues, new and current, what their moral purpose is. Quite often, I am issued with a small pause followed with an answer that lacks confidence and assertion. However, for me, I truly want the curtain to be unveiled to see what drives your minute by minute decision-making. It allows me to determine how receptive you will be to learning and feedback, how willing you will be to add value to the educational offer, and how determined you will be to overcome the number of changes and challenges that regularly come our way. And for the majority, the above is positively evident.
Knowing your moral purpose will not only help with explaining why you want to be a teacher or leader (for job interviews or simply reminding yourself why this is the profession for you) but will make most of your decisions, especially the difficult ones, must easier to make. You won’t be so worried whether you should suggest an idea or challenge one when you have your moral purpose propping you up: if you know it’s what’s best for your children, and it resonates with your moral purpose, you’ll have no issues fighting for it.
I have had many debates in the past about what is best for our children, but always upon reflection, I leave smiling with admiration about how passionate my team are to fight (constructively and professionally, I might add) for what they believe in – I am regularly in awe.
It also makes you more open to suggestions and support as you are far more prepared to try new things, seek new, innovative, efficient and effective methods as well as actively seeking feedback. I am often asking my colleagues to provide me with constructive feedback as it fuels my desire to improve as well as helping me to unpick my reflections and better my practice: and I daren’t defy my moral purpose!
A rabbit hole (you might be wondering), it’ll never be perfect! Surely the pursuit for the perfect classroom is a mirage? But that’s the difference between when I first started in education to where I am now: I am all about valuing and improving the journey, not seeking the destination. This brings variability into my practice, enhances my methods and keeps me enlightened to learning.
How wonderful is the thought that through a child’s journey, they will be under the wing of an array of inspirational teachers all governed by principles that have the child’s interests and development at its core. This is the culture we so long for.
Enriching the journey is better than rushing to the destination.
Know your moral purpose: the principles that make you, you!