A life well lived. A Teacher.

There are so many types of teachers in this world; Grumpy, easy-going, fun, boring, engaging…the list goes on. There are teachers we remember who were like our friends at school. Yes there was still a hierarchy, but you knew that because you had great communication, you were going to learn something in that class – even remember it! On the other side of the coin there were teachers who looked like the life and energy was sucked right out of them. They taught with a monotone, and class activities and ‘engaging’ assignments were few and far-between.

Kevin Kline starred in the 2002 film ‘The Emperor’s Club’. A film about one teacher’s life, and the impact he makes. With such poignant questions he asks “How will history remember you?”, and “What will your contribution be?” After embarking on a teaching journey of my own, I can’t help but ask myself the same questions…how will history remember me? What will my contribution be?

It all boils down to one thing – our teaching identities. Who exactly do we want to be in this profession? For the pre-service teachers or graduates – What type of teacher do you want to be? For the experienced teachers reading – Do you still have the same passion for teaching as you did when you first started? No matter what stage we’re at we need to keep looking at our teaching identities, and if they’re where we want them to be.

There are so many areas that shape our identity; what’s happening in our personal lives, what’s happening at work, our life stage, our family, our beliefs, our personality and how we react to situations, the media, and the list goes on. A way to reflect and understand your teacher identity is to use Brookfield’s Four Lens (Brookfield, 2002) approach.

Brookfield looks at four lenses of influence and areas for critical reflection of your teaching practice.

  1. Autobiographical Experiences: Have a look and reflect on how you think you’re going.
  2. Learners’ Eyes: Ask students what they think and be open to their feedback.
  3. Colleagues’ Experiences: Sometimes hard to do – asking your colleagues advice/feedback about your teaching practices, and obtaining a mentor if you haven’t already got one.
  4. Theoretical literature: Now take it one step further and investigate new literature on teaching pedagogies and approaches.

I’m dedicating this blog post to all the teachers out there like Mr. Hundert. The ones who inspired us to be who we wanted to be, to strive for the impossible, and conquer goals we never thought would ever happen. More importantly, the ones who helped us realise we wanted to teach, that we wanted to be the instigators of change, and we wanted to be the ones to inspire greatness. Thank you to all of them. Now it’s our turn to look at our teaching identities and ask ourselves those questions – How will we be remembered? What will our contribution be?

Below are some of my favourite teachers throughout film. Beginning with Mr. Hundert we see a range of characters which may just have something to teach us.

Thanks again for taking a walk with us.

Until next time,



Mr. Hundert – ‘Emperor’s Club’ (2002)

Miss Honey – ‘Matilda’ (1996)

Miss Watson – ‘Mona Lisa Smile’ (2003)

Mrs Obinchu – ‘The First Grader’ (2010)

Miss Reilly – ‘October Sky’

Mr. Dulaine – ‘Take the Lead’ (2006)


Brookfield, Stephen D. (2002). Using the lenses of critically reflective teaching in the community college classroom. New Directions for Community Colleges, 2002(118), 31-38. doi: 10.1002/cc.61

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