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Monday, 22 February 2016

40 Things I Love about Teaching

There is lots of negativity surrounding education at the moment so in order to counteract that I started to think about all of the things I love about my job. I got to 40 and here they are in no particular order:
1. Meeting my new class for the first time on induction day.
2. Seeing my new class on the first day of term, all smart in their new uniform, shiny shoes and excited faces.
3. The look on a child's face when they have had that penny dropping moment.
4. Listening to children read.
5. Reading stories to my class.
6. Getting dressed up on World Book Day.
7. Choosing parts for the Christmas play and making sure everyone has a part. 
8. Christmas play rehearsals.
9. The look on the parents faces as they watch the Christmas performance. 
10. Making cards and decorations on Christmas Crafts Day.
11. Meeting the parents on Parents Evening and spotting which parent the child looks the most like.
12. Teaching Maths.
13. Passing on my love of maths.
14. Helping pupils who thought they were 'rubbish' at maths grow in confidence and change their view of themselves as mathematicians to 'good'
15. Listening to the children talk and reason during problem solving lessons.
16. Making Mothers Day, Fathers Day and Easter cards.
17. Observing friendship groups and the group dynamics at playtime.
18. Watching the children play at playtime.
19. Chatting to the children in my class at playtime listening to their funny stories, jokes and stories about their families.
20. D.T. lessons and observing the roles the children take within a group.
21. Teaching English, Geography, History, Art and D.T. through Topics.
22. Introducing a new topic via an 'excite' lesson.
23. The end of topic celebration which for my class includes setting fire to London, having a teddy bears picnic and Katie Morag Day.
24. Listening to the pupils class talks about their favourite animal, their pet, an after school activity or hobby. These are very cute and often hilarious.
25. Themed Days such as Maths All Around us, Creative Arts week, Anti Bullying Day, Safer Internet Day.
26. Class Assemblies where the children show their families what they have been learning.
27. Reading the children's writing especially stories which give away family secrets.
28. Spotting the children's spelling mistakes which are often hilarious.
29. Seeing children developing their own writing style.
30. Watching my class dance during brain breaks, the class Christmas party or in the school disco, boy do they cut some shapes!
31. Teaching P.E., especially things like catching and throwing with year 2s who couldn't catch a cold and teaching the games I loved in school such as benchball and dodgeball.
32. Art lessons, the mess, the relaxed atmosphere and the opportunity to chat.
33. Singing together.
34. Listening to music together.
35. The queue of children on the first day back after a holiday to tell me what they have been up to.
36. Past pupils coming back to school to say hello.
37. Watching the children in my class grow in height, confidence and ability from the beginning of the year to the end.
38. Writing the personal statement on the end of year reports.
39. Meeting with my class's new teacher and telling them how wonderful they are, their strengths and and weaknesses and how much I will miss them.
40. Making a difference!

I really am lucky to be doing a job I love so much.

Sunday, 21 February 2016

Education has gone mad!

Teaching is my job, it is what I do, it is what I have done for nearly 20 years. I love my job and to a certain extent it defines me, it is a big part of who I am and I would say it is my passion. 

Over half term like lots of teachers I still live teaching. If I'm in a book shop I find myself searching for books about teaching, books for my class library and books linked to my topic. When browsing on eBay my thoughts turn to world book day and I bid for an outfit to wear. At the end of a busy day out with my other passion, my grandchildren, I settle down to Twitter to keep up to date with education. I think you can spot the pattern ... 

At the end of every very half term I break up feeling absolutely exhausted having chased my tail just to keep up. Then during my break I reflect. 

I have recently been filling my mind with all manner of projects including studying Budhism, completing courses on Coursera and Udemy and making tentative steps to write a book.  All of this is in an effort to keep my mind busy, to stop myself getting dragged down and depressed, you see I was depressed and whilst it was not all down to my job, it was a big part of it. 

Teaching is ingrained in me, it brings me lots of joy but also lots of sadness and stress. I cannot imagine doing another job. However, education is, in my opinion and from my experience, broken and what saddens me the most is my genuine belief that we have got it that wrong that our pupils, our precious next generation are being let down, damaged even. They are to the government merely a number, a statistic, a political football and my main problems with this is the obsession with measuring, testing, data, narrowing of the curriculum and the obsession with evidence and progress, two of my most hated words in education which I think sum up the root cause of the rot. 

I have for a longtime felt helpless, complicit even, going along with this madness. That was until the worm turned! I made the decision to have my own one woman revolution! Have I gone mad? What forms the basis of this revolution? 

I have decided to get on with my job, doing what I know is right for the pupils in my class. You see like all good teachers I know my class inside out, I know their family circumstances, I know their friendship groups, I know their hobbies, what subjects they excel at and the ones they need to work more on. I know their strengths and weaknesses, I know when to push them out of their comfort zone and when not to. I know which question to ask them, where they are and what they need to do next.

So armed with this knowledge I teach a broad and balanced curriculum, ensure all of the objectives I am meant to teach are taught. I engage, enthuse, encourage, nurture, push and extend. I get on with what I need to do remembering that they are, in my case, 6 and 7 years of age. 

This means I protect them from the nonsense, I make sure they enjoy learning, playing, making friends, working together, being independent. I try to encourage them to become more organised and to be all I know they can be. We laugh together, we  dance, play games, we read books and above all we learn together. Learning is at the centre of    everything we do, it is fun and child centred. 

Since this one woman revolution I find myself less manic, I enjoy my job and my pupils enjoy learning. This was very evident in parents evening before half term with parents reporting how happy their children are in school and most importantly how well they are doing and how much they enjoy learning. 

We owe it to ourselves as professionals to do what we know is important, to do what is best for the pupils in our care and protect them as best we can from the current madness that is education.