The secret life of a teacher: what stops me walking away? The children

Mar 14, 2016 by

After 20 years, the job still brings me daily moments of joy – despite the best efforts of Ofsted and the government

During teacher training I observed a class being asked why a horse would be castrated. A child put up his hand and said: “To make it more streamlined, sir.” In that moment, the dynamics of the classroom became very clear. The class laughed. The teacher smiled, then praised the student before rephrasing the question so as to elicit the correct answer and the student still felt valued. This was exactly how my two favourite teachers were when I was at school, and this is what I try to do every day with my pupils: inspire, guide and make them feel valued.

I never aspired to be a teacher. In fact I decided to train to become one to give me more time to think about what I really wanted to do, post-graduation. As it turns out it was my calling. And as with any great calling, it was initially very challenging, which left me feeling drained, unappreciated and ready to quit. Then one day something clicked. These were kids who, on the whole, wanted to be at school, wanted to learn and wanted to better themselves. I knew that I wanted to play a part in that.

I teach Spanish to 11- to 16-year-olds in a secondary school that is in one of the most deprived areas of the country. When I first started teaching here it was a failing school, but we are now rated as outstanding. Back then the pressures were all about managing behaviour. Now the focus is performance and accountability: the pupils’, yours and that of the school. This brings a much deeper engagement with parents, which is something I enjoy. Parents are as complex as their offspring but you can be secure in the knowledge that, in the vast majority of cases, they just want their child to be happy, as do I.

Source: The secret life of a teacher: what stops me walking away? The children | Anonymous | Opinion | The Guardian

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