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Who inspires the world’s best teachers?

Short articles
Authors: Rebecca Vukovic
Who inspires the world’s best teachers?

Most people can reflect on their schooling and think of one educator who made a significant difference in their lives.

To mark Australia’s celebration of World Teachers' Day, we asked two of the world’s best teachers to share with readers the educator who inspired them most when they were a student.

Global Teacher Prize winner for 2017 Maggie MacDonnell shares the story of an adult educator who continues to inspire her daily. Ken Silburn, who was the only Australian educator amongst the $1 million prize’s coveted final 10, shares the story of a music teacher who had the greatest influence on his passion for education.

Maggie MacDonnell

Maggie MacDonnell is an educator who works in a remote fly-in Inuit village in the Canadian arctic. In March 2017, she was named the winner of the Global Teacher Prize, receiving US $1 million in prize money.

The new staffroom at Macgregor Primary School

‘I think the educator that most inspired me, and I never got to be taught by him directly, but he was a man named Dr Moses Coady. He was an adult educator and a community development leader. He was originally from my province and he did so much work… There’s now an institution named after him called the Coady International Institute and I was a fellow there for one year... I did an internship and I also went back to take courses there.

‘The saying that gives me the most inspiration or I try to live up to is, he would say “as teachers your job is to ensure that your students are masters of their own destiny”. And that’s what inspires me, just to think, what does that look like?

‘As a teacher, how do we ensure that young people get to write their own futures? And I think I look to him a lot and the work that he did in working with adult learners mainly, as well as young learners. He’s my source of inspiration.’

Dr Ken Silburn

Casula High School science teacher Dr Ken Silburn was the only Australian educator to make the Global Teacher Prize 2017 final 10. In 2015, Silburn was named winner of the Prime Minister’s Prize for Secondary Science Teaching.

The new staffroom at Macgregor Primary School

‘I was fortunate to have many teachers that added positively to my childhood and teenage years. Amongst the many teachers who inspired me, one teacher in particular stood out. Mr Fraser (Bill Fraser), my music teacher and school band master. Although I eventually found my passion in science, it was Mr Fraser who had the greatest influence on my passion for education.

‘Mr Fraser would be at school every morning one hour before school to give tuition to eager students. And when a student did not demonstrate an expertise, he made sure that there was always someone there to provide guidance and support.

‘But this was not only how he showed his dedication to education, it was his ability to inspire his students and instil within them the knowledge that they could achieve anything they set their minds to. His music rooms were constantly in demand at recess and lunch times, not only for music practice, but as a stimulating and secure learning environment.

‘Bill Fraser had the way of ensuring that you wanted to achieve. Even after graduating from school, Mr Fraser wanted to know and hear of our successes and was always eager to hear of his past students’ successes. Mr Fraser passed away last year. As a mark of respect for his legacy, many of his past students from the past 30 years attended his remembrance service.’

Who was the teacher who inspired you most? As an educator or school leader, who inspires you now? Readers are invited to share their stories and reflections by leaving comments below or emailing the Teacher team.

Sunita Rajiv 27 October 2017

Very important, relevant and curious question dear Rebecca!
The soul of good teaching lies in motivation.A self-motivated person can spread inspiration like sunrays.But in my country India, we value a GURU higher than God himself, for he enlightens the path and leads the disciple to attain knowledge and ultimately, salvation.
Very good read!Congratulations!

Devika Samaraweera 30 October 2017

Congratulations for being the best teacher!!!
In my point of view, the most noble and blessed profession on earth is teaching.
Your hard work is highly appreciated.

Jo Earp 03 November 2017

Comment emailed to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address):

‘I have been moved by the articles of teachers who were inspired by their educators. Those people have mentioned 1 person in their education. For me it was a collective of teachers in different institutions that unknowingly reverberated their influences onto the next influential teacher in my life. Each one in their own way exerted a specific method of influence that helped me to become aware of the immense potential I had within my personality, talent and skill. The amazing thing is they saw in me as a teenage boy/student the unbelievable effect I now am realising as a teacher in my own right. Numerous teens in my lifetime of teaching have come back to me and given feedback on how much I have influenced them to succeed and achieve, all because of a kind gesture, well placed advice, demonstration of passion. The achievements of the past and current students vary in levels. They range from levels of well-being to contrasting career choices. Some of them are in survival mode and have a keen desire to continue learning.’
Terry Green

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