It is said that everyone remembers a good teacher. Certainly it seems that people are clear as to what makes a good teacher. Perhaps having been to school we all have a view based on our experience. If we were to describe the anatomy of a great teacher we would all have our own opinions; expertise in academic matters, a dedication to the wellbeing of children, a talent for making difficult questions seem easy to answer and a readiness to run a club or coach a sport would be a start. I could go on. All who teach will know of Shaw’s cutting words and I’m sure that some will have taken heart from others who have been more thoughtful. For me Carl Jung sums much of what makes a teacher when he wrote: “One looks back with appreciation to the brilliant teachers, but with gratitude to those who touched our human feelings. The curriculum is so much necessary raw material, but warmth is the vital element for the growing plant and for the soul of the child.”
As Headmaster, one of the most important elements of my role is to recruit new staff. It is a process that for potential BSP teachers usually involves a visit to the school, letters of application, the teaching of a lesson, an interview or possibly two and lots of forms. Degree certificates have to be dusted off and police checks made. References are written and read. It is a thorough and demanding process. It is a successful one.
Over the past couple of months we have been searching for a worthy successor to Miss Tuckwell. Our goal, to identify an individual who will continue to work with her sense of purpose to the benefit of the children in our Junior School. We (unsurprisingly) received a significant number of applications; the vast majority impressive. Phone interviews were conducted and long list interviews held with the assistance of the school’s governors. Questions were asked and answered, opinions analysed and influences considered. Another list was drawn up and a two day selection programme devised. Short listed candidates were invited to join us in Paris. They taught a lesson, faced a pupil panel, met with a wide range of staff, gave a presentation, wrote sample letters, completed an in tray exercise and faced a second panel interview. We were treated to excellent lessons, thoughtful answers and perspicacious presentations.
At the end of the process it gives me great pleasure to introduce Mr. Potter as the next Head of the Junior School. In the eyes of the selection panel he best met our very specific needs as a school community. He came the closest to embodying Jung’s combination of academic excellence and human warmth. Over the coming months he will visit us and I am sure that he will be keen to meet with as many students and their parents as is possible.
We are fortunate as a school to have dedicated members of staff. Without them, this would not be the place that it is. As we face the prospect of losing one exceptional teacher in Miss Tuckwell we are pleased to anticipate the arrival of another, Mr. Potter.