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“When We Believe in Our Students, They Believe in Us, too”

Kerry Abercrombie was shortlisted for Teacher of the Year in the 2019 Into Film Awards - thanks to the pupils who insisted she put her name forward...

  • “When We Believe in Our Students, They Believe in Us, too”

‘DO IT!’ were the only two discernible words I could make out before the congregation of film fanatics in front of me exploded into a chattering garble of zealous excitement, delirious enthusiasm and half eaten ham sandwiches. Before long Thursday lunch time had settled into its usual Film Club routine of watching the latest chosen offering and debating who should be directing the next instalment of Guardians of the Galaxy while I quietly opened the application form for the 2019 Into Film Awards.

To me the accolade of ‘Teacher of the Year’ was a daunting prospect which seemed so far removed from the realms of reality. Our burgeoning principality is nestled neatly, as many media departments in Scotland are, in the suburbs of an expansive English faculty. I was doing what I loved and I loved what I was doing but it wasn’t anything special. It wasn’t anything to shout about. It wasn’t anything any other teacher wasn’t doing.

‘So, what do we have to do to get you noticed?’ The matter of fact tone adopted by a sixteen-year-old future film student cut through the usual sluggish Monday morning arrival to class. And while I wasn’t sure of the answer to that question, it didn’t take long for the class to begin concocting a plan; by the end of the period the senior class had set up an entire production team, plan and schedule for the filming of a testimonial video.

They did this not because it was important to me, but because it was important to us. You see, our school’s involvement with Into Film has transformed us. Before, each group of media inclined pupils would come through year by year, knowing that they were from common ground but never quite being able to breach the gaps that inevitably form through the lottery of year grouping and the vastness of a 1,800 strong school roll. Into Film has allowed us to bridge these gaps with shared experiences. Perhaps you were part of one of the three classes who snorted into their popcorn at the Into Film Festival as two self-confessed ‘horrorphobe’ teachers tried to act tough (and drop a reactionary F-bomb in sheer terror) while watching ‘A Quiet Place’ through their fingers. Maybe you were one of the group who watched their first film in Swahili together after a session with a Zimbabwean storyteller. Maybe you are one of our competition winners who have found your film reviews published in national newspapers. Maybe you are one of the Film Club members who turns up every Thursday lunchtime to debate and discuss film. Maybe you are in the self-constructed team developing a film podcast in the hopes of honing your skills for future awards glory of your own. Whoever you are - you are part of the family.

As the matriarch of this newfound family of film lovers there was little I could do but grin emotionally like an old aunt at a wedding and curb the frequent watery eye as they rallied around. Their adolescent confidence invested fully in me when, in truth, my own adult poise was on a shoogly peg. But why? As teachers we spend every day supporting, nurturing, believing in our young people and their capabilities. What a humbling experience it was to have the tables turned. We support our young people, and every once in a while, if we’re lucky, we experience something that serves to remind us that our young people support us. Because when we believe in them, they believe in us.


Kerry Abercrombie is a media specialist at Larbert High School, Falkirk, Scotland, and was a Teacher of the Year nominee at the 2019 Into Film Awards.

 

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