Teaching and Community

When I was younger, teaching was something that I kept in my back pocket for many years. I would reach down to touch it occasionally and reassure myself that it was still there, that it was something I could do if all else failed, a safety net, but I’m not sure that I was ever excited about the prospect of stepping into a classroom. And when I eventually applied, like so many floundering graduates, and started an English Secondary PGCE, it was out of desperation rather than any real calling.

Treat a man as he is and he will remain as he is. Treat a man as he can be and he will become as he can and should be.


My inspiration was Robin Williams in Dead Poet’s Society, adored and revered by his students, which is an egotistical entry point into the profession and inevitably led to disappointment. The restrictions and bureaucracy also left me cold, tired, despondent and begging to return to my uncertain world of writing, working easier jobs and enjoying life, so it was unsurprising that I didn’t end up teaching after my training.

But I learnt so much from the experience, about teaching and myself, and teaching has always played a huge part in my life, as an editor working with writers, as a volunteer in the community and as a daughter, sister, aunt, godmother and friend. I love the glow of understanding dawning on the face of the newly enlightened and the sense of empowerment that comes with knowledge. I just needed to grow more, learn more, live more and understand so much more before I could make a genuine contribution and find a unique space into which I could fit, teaching something that I believe in.

After fifteen years of working as a writer, editor and ghost writer, developing my skills and understanding the powerful processes of writing, the call to teach came again. This time, there was no desperation or ego. I simply wanted to share what I had discovered with people who want to learn and grow. I wanted to help students to write about their lives, to write creatively from life experience, to understand the power of honesty and sharing stories, and to find peace and healing in the process. And now, nothing makes me happier.

For more information about groups, workshops, courses and 1-1 sessions, email hayleyshaw.stories@gmail.com