Being immersed in pedagogy and practice, reading journals, blogs, tweets and as many relevant academic texts as I can (and those recommended by @teacherhead and @chrishildrew!), I do sometimes forget to take a reflective step back and just think about the initial positives of my role as a teacher I enjoy. Those generic, all encompassing elements we experience across the multitude of establishments we work in/attend.
These are not new to us;
nothing here is innovative or brand new;
hopefully just a catalyst to make the reader take their own reflective step away from the day to day concepts and misanthropes we can sometimes be bogged down by. Now that sounds negative, it doesn’t mean to be, just an honest interpretation that we generally find ourselves in deficit when it comes to personal good will after a day that may include financial pressures, summative assessment changes and shocking pastoral mishaps from agencies beyond our 4 walls.
Here we go…
- We Make a Difference; Whether we/they know it or not!
We make a difference in young lives, sometimes not just those in our classes but those we may meet in the corridors. As an altruistic role, we plan lessons and tasks to make that difference a positive one, but I consistently observe that its the smallest actions, the ‘hello’ in the corridor to the Y8 who you know is having a tough time outside of school, making the effort to watch the KS2 netball team even though you’ve already had 3 meetings that week, or focussing a lesson on certain aspects of the pupils lives they may have mentioned before so they can make positive learning links easily are subconscious demonstrations of making a difference. Great learning comes from building great relationships with your pupils, building a mutual respect can only ever put you and them in credit when momentum is needed.
2. Learning is Just Brilliant
Think of the last thing you actually learnt, that you were able to apply correctly after learning it and have since developed it to a greater depth. How long ago was it? I cite my own learning of the new accountability measures for KS4, I spent time learning about them, discussing them with relevant individuals to gain some peer assessment and appreciation, and ultimately augment my opinion. Not too put too finer point on it, but now I feel so much more confident about the measures, I feel a sense of achievement, of ease and, dare I say it, self-assurance when it comes to my learning. If we get it right, we know our own pupils can feel like this, that we can build and construct situations and environments that allow pupil to safely test themselves and develop into mature adults who will want to contribute to our society.
3. Creating Your Teaching Persona
I recently read the article from the TES by Mark Roberts (@mr_englishteach) about ‘Why a popular teacher is the last thing you want to be’. It looks at how a positive teacher/student relationship, one built on mutual respect and high standards and expectations will lead to a productive outcome for all. This relationship is something that a teacher cultivates over their career, they play the joker, the authoritarian, the counsellor, the all knowing-all seeing oracle (!), but they will always ensure that the personality they develop is one that is honest, accepting, patient and self-assured. Building a persona, creating your own space that allows you to offer high quality learning opportunities to your pupils is exciting, and is a dynamic situation, you know that if you are adaptable, you will offer the best deal for the pupils.
4. Reward can come form the smallest places
Routine can sometimes put pay to recognising success and that epiphanal moment in learning. But when we do spot the breakthrough for any learners, be it pupils or staff, the reward isn’t one that remains a personal one; its not something that when you share its because you want the ‘pat on the back’. You share the reward to share the learning, model that it can be done and exemplars of the methodology behind it. This is why Professor John Hattie clearly states that any lesson feedback for a teacher must be given as soon as possible to harness that positive sense of reward, why we continually try and close that feedback loop for pupils by using former success as incentives to create intrinsic motivation. Who doesn’t love that palpable sound in a class of ‘AHHH, thats what it means….’!
5. Every Lesson is Different
Finally the most obvious of the 5, as even if you are on the first day of your PGCE placement or have 20 years under your belt, each lesson will be different, and isn’t that just the best!!