The wonderful @ChrisChivers2 has been collecting experience from teachers. I feel a slight fraud here as the ones I have read are not only excellent but from the ‘grandetwitterers’ such as Chris, @raywilkinson and @Jillberry102. But as I created #genderedcheese which criticises the lack of women’s voices in education, I must practise what I preach – I have been asked, and although I don’t feel worthy, I will add my contribution.
First an English and Drama teacher from Year 9-13 – taught up to English Literature and Theatre Studies A’Level. Deputy Head of Sixth Form then went to Falkland Islands. Although I taught an English A’Level adult group at night school, my day job was Assistant Editor of News at the Falkland Islands Broadcasting Station. On returning I was pregnant with my first child so did a bit of supply teaching then became a Parent Partnership Officer (supporting parents of children with SEN in education) and a part time lecturer of English, Maths, IT and Skills for Life at a land based FE college. I then became a 1:1 tutor for students with specific learning difficulties (such as dyslexia) at the same college supporting students up to HE level before I returned to the Local Authority and joined the SENSS team. Now I visit various types of schools in Dorset, teaching, advising, assessing and training. (what I write below is personal however and does not reflect my employer’s views)
Before teaching I was a spring onion peeler, typist, receptionist, Assistant Organiser for an Exhibition company at Earls Court, Chalet girl, then Group Leader, Instructor and Ski Rep for PGL.
What I reckon
- differentiate through language and outcome not worksheets
- be kind to staff and students – always put yourself in their shoes before acting
- person first admin second (once I profusely apologised to one of my tutor group for asking for his sick note before asking if he was feeling better – I was horrified with myself)
- be good enough – aim to teach one great session a day, the majority OK and allow yourself one not so good – just mix these up through the week so different children experience the great one
- all students are worthy of your time not just the clever ones
- find the glitter – did you know John who can’t read and write very well could somersault on his BMX?
- parents have hunches about their child and they are usually right – they are worth listening to and will have great advice about how best their child learns
- quality first teaching is knowing your students and adapting to suit them – this is not differentiation/SEN/Teaching Assistant’s role – just good teaching
- Less is more – an essay with bullet points and one superb paragraph maybe preferable to a terrible essay
- Alternative assessments can allow some a chance to shine
- The hardest to love are often those that need loving the most
- Start each lesson afresh – try not to say ‘you always do this’, or ‘let’s see if you can do better than yesterday’.
- Catch them being good – it’s easy to ignore challenging children when they are being good out of sheer relief but this is exactly when a hand on the shoulder, a quick nod of recognition or a smile can be most effective – they get to experience what the ‘good’ kids get
- OK, Professor Coe says effusive praise is not effective but I think it is not the effusiveness but the genuineness – whether they believe your praise – you need to mean it
It’s really hard, I know, but keep the joy of learning a priority – working hard and being happy can go together