The Last Lecture by @TeacherToolkit

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Ross Morrison McGill founded @TeacherToolkit in 2010, and today, he is one of the 'most followed educators'on social media in the world. In 2015, he was nominated as one of the '500 Most Influential People in Britain' by The Sunday Times as a result of...
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This blog is a philosophical article.

It is based on all the teaching and support staff in schools who are leaving their current positions at school (this term). It is also inspired by the story of Randy Pausch and his ‘Last Lecture’.


As I contemplate moving schools, I look to Pausch’s Last Lecture as a source of inspiration and refer to my recent 6-part leadership #360Review and my reflections of my own vision and values as a teacher; The teacher genetic code.

Randy Pausch’s book is one of the few books I have read cover-to-cover. I can recall distinctly where and when I read this book, gripped to the terminal floor at Sydney Airport (Australia), waiting for a delayed flight to Singapore-London in 2008.

If you are not familiar with The Last Lecture, this is traditional staple to those in the university sector. Professors are asked to consider their departure and to ponder on what matters most to them. And while they speak, audiences are asked to consider the same question: What wisdom would we impart to the world if we knew it was our last chance? If we had to vanish tomorrow, what would we want as our legacy?

Credit: www.knú
Credit: www.knú

… When leaving your current school for pastures new, I hope to apply The Last Lecture analogy to the same situation at school. Now, I know that the context of the example provided here is very different, but the story is worth consideration.

What would be your legacy as a teacher? What wisdom would you have hoped to impart during your career at the school? And what message would you hope to impart in your leaving speech? …

When Pausch, a professor at Carnegie Mellon University, was asked to give such a lecture, he didn’t have to imagine it as his final lecture, since he had been diagnosed with terminal cancer. The talk he presented: “Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams“, wasn’t about dying, it was about the importance of overcoming obstacles, of resilience; enabling the dreams of others and living every moment.

In this book, Pausch will change your outlook and make you consider, your very own Last Lecture.

The Last Lecture
The Last Lecture


With a few weeks to go before the end of term, I reflect on my teacher genetic code, a blog about my vision and values as a teacher. I have already started to consider what I may or may not say in my last lecture’ to staff. It certainly won’t be a ‘lecture’, but I do intend to make references to this story about the relationship – as teachers – and the familiarity we all have, with end of term speeches and those staff who are moving to new jobs/schools.

As I consider my current tenure coming to an end, I think back to this fabulous story shared by Randy Pausch and recently, by Stephen Sutton (‘When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.’) who have both left their own legacies. I wonder what will be mine …

Randolph Frederick "Randy" Pausch (23 Oct 1960 – 25 July 2008)
Randolph Frederick “Randy” Pausch (23 Oct 1960 – 25 July 2008)


Now, to conclude, I am not saying for one minute, that I have created a legacy, but I want to capture Pausch and Sutton’s stories into my own thoughts when writing my leaving speech. My memory shifts back to headteacher, Stephen Tierney’s blog (@LeadingLearner) on “Advice to my 15-year-old self“. With all the above in mind, I will be aiming to do the same when speaking to my staff. What advice would I give to myself and to all the teachers I leave behind in my school?

I don’t know yet, but I am certainly starting to think about it. I will share my speech with you in a follow-up blog in July.

I give you, The Last Lecture.

The Last Lecture:

‘On September 18, 2007, Pausch delivered a one-of-a-kind last lecture that made the world stop and pay attention. It became an internet sensation viewed by millions’. Here is his ‘Last Lecture’.

4 thoughts on “The Last Lecture by @TeacherToolkit

  1. Interestingly, Ross, at Northern Rocks today, Mick Waters and Hywel Roberts asked us to consider (and record on post-its) the legacy we hoped to leave behind when we moved on.

    I thought, as a leader, I would want to leave staff with greater self-belief than they had before.

    It’s a good question to ask.

    Good luck in your final half-term – always a time of mixed emotions!

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