After a busy February in Birmingham’s Park View School, March has mostly been spent doing supply teaching in my local area and preparing for the Big Day Out Newcastle. I started my career by observing teachers as a classroom assistant and I feel like I am back to that observation phase again. Dinnertimes are often spent sitting quietly, listening to the issues that teachers face in the daily grid; teaching is tough and it is quite often hard to find the joy in what we do each day.
There’s a little boy at my son’s school that brings me joy every time I see him. He races out of school and immediately puts on his superman outfit. His transformation from T in reception class to superman takes seconds.
The happiness on his face as he races around… flying in his mind… taking on the imaginary bad guys makes my heart swell. That joy, that happiness, that’s what we are all really chasing in one way or another. I’m sure, one day, an educator might tell little T to “grow up” or “act your age.” How sad is that? In my opinion, teachers should be more five.
I’m not talking about grown men or women prancing about with underpants on top of lycra (although each to their own). I’m talking about finding the joy in that which we do every day.
Reflecting on the word outstanding can often have the opposite effect from bringing joy. Our evolved adult imaginations can only envisage the Ofstedanator coming towards us with a branding iron, ready to mark us with the judgement of doom. Even if we are branded outstanding, that can be a burden all in itself. How long will we be able to keep it up without killing ourselves?
Despite all of the late nights, the triangulated marking, the data inputs, seating plans, the reporting, the revision sessions… the lack of a life… onwards they come with their branding iron and lo and behold, you have left your superman costume with your five year old self, in a place where marking piles don’t exist… princesses and dragons still do.
The love of teaching, when we get it right for them, brings forth an excitement reminiscent of little T’s belief that he can fly! That excitement, that drive, that joy is what we are all really searching for. Nobody (that I know of) really gets out of bed and thinks, “Today… I want to wallow in my misery. I’m looking forward to hating my classes…” We all want to be happy in our jobs.
Teachers have the most important job in the world!
It is your job to teach little T how to become Clarke Kent… a super successful reporter for the Daily Planet. Or little Sammy how to be Tony Stark… the mathematics genius who can solve our world’s problems while still retaining all of the joy that being a five year old can bring.
Having the most important job in the world means that you deserve the best professional development in the world. How often do you sit through CPD that is dull, uninspiring, ill thought out or just plain wrong? I know that over ten years of teaching, I have sat through some utter guff! Similarly, professional development should not be a one off event to engage, motivate and then be forgotten about as the daily grind takes over. That’s just as pointless as sitting through death by Powerpoint.
After a day like Monday’s Big Day Out at Newcastle Racecourse, I hope that educators went away feeling more five… excited, enthused and raring to go but I also hope that the intimacy of the day, the one on one conversations, the relationships that were built will be carried on long after the event.
Monday was about feeding a love of learning and allowing ourselves to be motivated. The hope is that the motivation of Monday will lead to an infectious enthusiasm being taken back into schools so that we can teach the whole of the North East how to be more five!