“If you can keep your head while all around you are losing theirs…”
In the wake of the resounding clamour of finger pointing at our school I think it’s time to reflect a little.
One of the reasons I got into teaching was that I felt I had something to offer the students I would come into contact with. In the simplest way possible I wanted to inspire them to greatness. I felt that my experience of the real world had a few home truths for these youngsters and maybe some of them they didn’t have to learn for themselves.
Sure, there was a love for the subject but as well as this there are life skills to be learnt. Effort, grit, determination, resilience, humour, creativity – in a word ‘character’ – something that isn’t catered for in any curriculum.
“Hey Jimmy you’ve managed to achieved a level 6 in comedy. In order to improve you need to work on your timing.”
Or “Georgia, What Went Well is the way you drew that picture. It would be Even Better If you could demonstrate more resilience and actually do the task.”
In a word you wanted to be an educator. Not a nanny, not a babysitter an educator.
I spend so many hours reading and feeding my curiosity as to how I can improve what I do, how I teach and how kids learn that this week, my wife had to remind me that I’m not the bloody prime minister.
So when the false prophets come around with their declarations of what is great and good we are in an extraordinary position to see the Emperor’s New Clothes for all their worth.
To call it a travesty is an oversimplification. Where I see teachers fighting for their charges, I see others pointing at obstructions. Where I see individual students, I hear percentages. Where observers see outstanding, I see juggling clowns on unicycles performing to the crowds.
The reality isn’t bitterness at my own grade (deemed fine) but rather the disparity between the depressing reality and the purported esteem it is held in.
In a nutshell, all we can cling to is some borrowed words from Rita Pierson;
When the kids are not in the mood; we teach anyway.
When the parents blame us for their grades; we teach anyway.
When students don’t hit their targets; we teach anyway.
When Ofsted say we’re not doing our bit; we teach anyway.
When the rest of the school happily hold us up to ridicule; we teach anyway.
We are educators.
We’re not held in high esteem. We teach anyway.
When the chips are down there always someone who knows – the students.
They will know if we cared. They will know if we paid attention. They will know if we made the effort.
That will be enough to let me sleep tonight.