What Inspires Teachers?

Junior and senior high school teacher, Gavan Sager, talks about the reasons he teaches, as well as the madness (or genius) behind his teaching methods.

Did you always know that you wanted to be a teacher?
Absolutely, yes! And I’ve never regretted one minute of it, in my 19 years of teaching.

Was there a teacher who inspired you to get into education?
Back in my third form year, which would be year eleven, my English teacher really inspired me. Just the way he taught, it wasn’t structured, he’d sit in a chair just strumming guitar. We’d sit in a circle, and he’d give us something to discuss. When we read a particular book, the way he’d explain it, I could understand it. It wasn’t just something we read because we had to. And he didn’t tell us what to write about, he let us choose what we were interested in. Instead of giving us a particular topic, he’d throw a bunch of pictures on the ground, and tell us to pick one to write about. Whatever we chose to do, he just said, “Go for it.” And he taught us that it was okay to make mistakes. From then on, I never forgot him.

Gavan Sager
New Zealand
EtonHouse International School
Social Studies, English and Geography

If you had to describe a teacher’s job as an animal, what animal do you think it would be?
You know what… I’ve never really thought about that question. It’s like an eagle, soaring above, looking down on our students… I don’t mean that in a condescending way, just soaring over them and making sure everything’s alright. You can see the big picture, you can see further afield, so I know where I need to direct them. Not dictatorial… I’ m just an observer, I watch over them.

I could also look at it like pods of whales, we all stick together, work together. I like how older whales will work in concert with younger ones and guide them along—until we beach ourselves… That’s called retirement! For us, our students are our pod, we help them until they are ready to move on and do things for themselves.