Tomás Ó Ruairc, Director of the Teaching Council
Every day, I seek to do my best…
This is the last of the Four Agreements:
- Be impeccable with your word
- Don’t take things personally
- Don’t make assumptions
- Always do your best
I am a father of four daughters, a husband, a teacher and Director of the Teaching Council. Each day is a flow in and out of each of these spaces or roles. I like to think that I am the same person in my connections with the people that I meet, but I suppose that none of us really knows who we truly are. That’s part of the excitement of life – on a never-ending journey of learning more about who you are and learning how to relate to people.
I tend to get up early each weekday…
between 6 and 6:45, depending on how I want to greet the day. Thankfully, the day will come to greet me anyway when our two youngest daughters charge in before heading down to get their breakfast!
I start each day with a grounding gratitude process – what am I thankful for in that very moment? – and like to browse the papers to see what issues are featuring in national conversation, particularly in education!
I try – with varying degrees of success – to read for pleasure each day. I have just finished “How to lose the time war” which is more of a love story than a science fiction novel! I read it straight through in a few hours and loved it!
I am responsible for…
At home, I am responsible for my relationship with my wife and the rearing of our four daughters. That alone is an awesome responsibility! I used to think that growing up was about being or becoming the best person you possibly could be. I have learned through my daughters how it really is about discovering who you truly are.
I love my job in the Teaching Council. It is without a doubt my favourite job in my career to date. I am blessed to work with a fantastic team of people who care about what they do and why, and who look out for each other as colleagues and friends.
I became a teacher because of great teachers – I know from my youngest days how powerful great teaching can be. One of the best parts of my job is being continually amazed by how much teachers push the boundaries of innovation in order to bring learning alive for their students. I am really keen to help teachers showcase all the great work they are doing and connect it across the system. A lot of my work involves getting out there to various events to connect with these developments. These help me tell a powerful story for teaching when I meet with stakeholders within and outside education.
The most challenging part of my job is…
Its sheer breadth and depth. We have over 100,000 teachers on the register, almost 4,000 schools and just under 1 million pupils. I can get so enthused about a new idea, or by a meeting with teachers who have great ideas, that I keep going well beyond a reasonable point of sustainability. I love connecting with people in conversation – but if I do that too much, particularly over days and weeks, I run the risk of burnout. So I have to remind myself to delegate effectively and to pace myself.
One way in which I do this is my 100 days of walking. I don’t spend any two days doing exactly the same thing all day long, but I have worked hard at embedding a small number of key habits that I do each day that I hope will help me be there for myself and others. Walking each day is one of these habits. This simple act has transformed my life. To be clear, I have some great days and some really challenging days – life is life. But walking each day has helped me develop an almost subconscious bedrock which helps to support and sustain me. It’s hard to describe exactly in words, more of a feeling.
Each day normally ends with…
Watching something interesting on the television with my wife. We’ve worked our way through Game of Thrones, the Big Bang Theory and Line of Duty. Friday nights usually see us in front of the Late Late Show, but only after a Friday movie with the girls! We have a nice library built up on iTunes and I proudly admit to being a big fan of films like Moana and Coco. Great stories are great stories, no matter how old or young you may be!
I am inspired by…
So many people and so many things – books that I read, moments in nature that I witness on a walk, generosity of family, kindness of colleagues and friends, inspirational thoughts and speeches by other people. Another challenge can be making some sense of all the thoughts and ideas that arise! Which ones to follow and which ones to leave behind?
Quotes to live by…
I don’t live by a single motto but I have a few quotes or phrases that are at the forefront of my thinking at the moment. They include:
“Head in the stars, feet on the ground and heart wide open.”
And a line from a song in the film “Brave” – “Chase the wind and touch the sky.”
And finally, the importance of not rushing to judge people or their motivations – you never know what crosses they are bearing in life.
Every day, I seek to do my best.
Thank you so much for sharing Tomás.