Who is Jaz Ampaw-Farr?
Good question – I’ll get back to you when I have an answer for that.
In the meantime, this keynote I gave at #TMLondon does the job and also explains how:
- teachers saved my life
- we can all be resilience ninjas
- being able to do a reasonable Scottish accent can save your bacon!
[I] will always remember the day Sam arrived in class with a dead hedgehog. I’d never seen him so passionate as he described how he’d persuaded his Mum to hold his ankles while he cajoled the poor creature out of a pond with a stick.
I was presented with a choice of delivering my well planned RE lesson or free styling it with the hedgehog. One look at Sam’s enthusiastic expression told me it was a no brainer and my Year One class enjoyed an enthusiastic debate about life and death on the streets of Clacton on Sea.
At #TMLondon I had my own dead hedgehog moment. I had prepared a talk on the impact of high expectations. I’m involved in coaching teachers and helping them to be more reflexive about teaching and learning so I thought I’d share a few tips.
Waiting to speak I was terrified, and suffering from TIS (Total Imposter Syndrome). Then @conorheaven asked a question during his talk: Are we doing the best for our kids? At that point I had a revelation: What if I just shared a little of my own story and reminded teachers why they are the most important people on the planet?
In truth, I’ve been resisting sharing why I’m such a passionate advocate of teachers and directing all my focus to delivering talks on creating resilient writers in Primary school. When it comes to being honest about the reason why I do what I do, I’m afraid to share.
Firstly, I don’t want to look like an X Factor contestant with an OK singing voice but a killer sob story! I’m not responsible for my childhood. It happened to me, not because of me, and covering it up feels a little too close to shame – which I gave up for Lent in 1986!
Secondly, I worry that my past might upset people and is too shocking to be shared. A tutor at teacher training college advised me to try to be ‘more acceptable’ and have a go at ‘blending in’. Both of which are a real challenge with a hairdo like mine!
However, witnessing so many teachers speaking from their heart to a room full of even more teachers who turned up at the end of a gruelling term, looking for strategies to improve their teaching, I made a decision.
At the interval I changed my slides (removing a rather amusing anecdote about the mummification process in Ancient Egypt) and created a new talk that would require me to put myself in a completely vulnerable position. On the flip side it also had the possibility of resonating with a teacher, and in turn, reaching a lost girl sitting in a classroom today.
To all those who found what I said resourceful, thank you for listening. If you haven’t seen it yet, watch the video above.
I’d love to hear your thoughts so leave a comment below or hook up with me on Twitter @jazampawfarr