Speech from English Teacher, Michelle Jones

Here is Michelle Jones’ speech from our Opening Event on 30 January 2014:

When asked to present a quick snapshot of what it means to be an educator at Halcyon, a word found in the core principles of Halcyon’s philosophy immediately came to mind and I believe, connects seamlessly with my role here. The latin word “Educe”, from which the word “education” is derived.  It means to “draw out”. 

As a Halcyon Educator, this translates into a belief that all of our students are intrinsically hungry to learn, talented, and motivated. In light of this, my role as an educator is to create an environment that will purposefully, and confidently, draw out their unique skills, approach to learning, and problem solving abilities. To ensure that in this school our students know that to take bolder risks, reach for goals well above their current level, and make mistakes that inspire innovation and reflection, is encouraged and lauded.

As a Halcyon Educator, I embrace, my role as a steward of knowledge and a learner in my own classroom. I have the courage to allow my students to direct their learning in every lesson, challenge my methods, question the value of what is studied, and reflect on lessons through open, honest communication. I feel enthused by the revelation that I will never stop learning, and, yes, realise that there are occasions when my students know far more than I do and that this is a moment to celebrate heartily. Even in the face of a busy schedule, I remain resolute in my mission to ensure that each child is reached.

From our earliest planning sessions at the school, the faculty became a community of not only educators but of Learners. And wow, do we learn! From Personal learning projects that support student achievement to inspired conversations based on new techniques or technology, we are continually investing in our educator community. We value, and seek, professional development opportunities such as the Google Teacher Academy and learning workshops from world-renowned figures such as Lance King. 

As a Halcyon Educator, I recognise that innovation is born from inspiration and a desire to be a part of something far bigger than myself. I know that a significant part of this is technology. I also know that we have an enormous opportunity here at Halcyon: To shape the future of education…A future that speaks the language of today’s students and brings learning to life in a way that is challenging and curiously exciting. Yet, the opportunity to also show that education is a platform through which we can connect with others and empower them.

Halcyon classrooms are some of the largest in the world. Mine stretches right from the heart of Marble Arch to the streets that Charles Dickens once walked, guided by podcasts connecting the literature to what is right in front of us. My classroom once even stretched across four continents as my students interviewed each-others Grandparents in order to write reflective pieces on the value of family traditions and cultural diversity in our globalising world. As Halcyon educators, we use London’s boundless cityscape, museums, and people as learning tools. We visit the very neighbourhoods that inspired works such as the Sherlock Series or Monica Ali’s “BrickLane” in order to create interactive e-books for our wider community. I never allow the traditions of my subject to dictate my approaches: Yes, I teach grammar using Lego blocks. Yes, we critique, and correct, the grammar of Twitter’s most popular figures. Yes, we take time to experiment with augmented reality so that we can make pop-up books for auditory-challenged children. We know that education is constantly evolving and we must too.

In closing, as a Halcyon Educator. I know that my role is to not only prepare students for the world into which they will one day study, work, and explore, but to also ensure that they are  highly-inquisitive, deeply-intuitive, and boundlessly-inspired to empower others in our common search for a better world.

To be a Halcyon Educator means to put students ahead of myself so that they may go on to be great leaders. In doing so, we know that we are educing the potential, skill, and desire for human progress our world needs today. Because, as Nelson Mandela once said, “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”

Thank you.

HalcyonSpeech from English Teacher, Michelle Jones