Saturday 22 November 2014

What it Means to be a Teacher

Yesterday, I had an experience that reminded me what it means to be a teacher.

In the current world of deep marking, data analysis, work scrutiny, learning walks and lesson observation, it is sometimes difficult to remember why we came into teaching and what it is we are here to do.  From the current set of priorities forced on most schools, you could be forgiven for thinking that we were employed to create an immaculate set of 30 books that would go out into the world and... or to hone our skills to prepare the perfect performance for an external set of teaching 'experts', using children as props to show off our skills... or that the key to education was to produce comprehensive evidence of 3 steps progress (whatever that actually means) for every child every year...

We all know the pressure comes from OFSTED and the fear of OFSTED - what NUT Deputy General Secretary Kevin Courtney has called 'an accountability system gone badly wrong' - but we can't help but be affected by it.  And, little by little, many of us come to believe it.

So it was refreshing to bump into the parent of a student I taught ten years ago, who told me she has just sent off her UCAS application form to study a maths degree, which begins, "When I was in Year 3, I had a teacher who really inspired me...".

I am proud to say I was that teacher.

THAT is what education is about. It is about inspiring young minds to reach for their potential. About developing a real love of learning that they take throughout their lives.  And it was done without endless work scrutinies and learning walks, data analysis and target-setting. Just a supportive environment and some high-quality professional development opportunities.

That is what made me a good teacher and what helped me to spend the last 11 years changing children's lives, which is what we are really about.

I can't remember how many levels progress she made and I don't expect she can either...

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