An influential evening

I was recently invited to an evening at Pisa Moorings with a group of Central Otago influencers.

They weren’t the type of influencers who are being increasingly embraced by the marketing world to promote consumer products on social media.

As far as I am aware, none of the influencers present had posed in exotic settings with the brand name of expensive outdoor clothing prominently displayed for an Instagram post.

No-one in the room had decided to save the world by circumnavigating it in a fossil fuel-burning four-wheel drive, nor had anyone flaunted their immaculate bodies on lonely cliff tops for drone shots.

I wasn’t aware anyone had been extracted from politically volatile Middle East photo shoot locations at the expense of the New Zealand taxpayer or had 8.3 million followers of their makeup and beauty tips Instagram tutorials.

However, the people in this crowd were all passionate and committed influencers in the true sense of the word.

We had gathered to acknowledge the work of a group of retiring Central Otago teachers and also to celebrate the entry of a group to the profession as fully registered teachers after university study and two years of postgraduate classroom practice.

Each award recipient was introduced by some of their colleagues, who then shared the story of their teaching journey.

The collegiality of these teachers was evident with these tributes, as was the enthusiasm and energy they devote to their work; both those at the end, and also those at the start of their careers.

They had a shared commitment to the learning and wellbeing of the learners in our schools and early childhood settings.

Educational researcher John Hattie, in his extensive work Visible Learning, summarised thousands of international educational studies to identify the most significant influences on a student’s learning.

Not surprisingly, Hattie’s work concluded that a committed, reflective teacher with an absolute belief that every learner is able to achieve their potential, is by far the most significant influencer on learning.

The pandemic-related disruption over the past two years has been a difficult time for many of us, particularly those who work in our schools and early childhood centres.

I would like to wish all these amazing influencers a restful and happy summer break.