Firstly, I would like to apologize to one and all for this rant; and it is most definitely ‘a rant’. The crux of my rant will centre on this driving question:
‘Why do so many educators choose the easy path?’
I for one am certainly not innocent of having been short sighted or focused on the easier road.
In a previous life…
While I was a cog in the machine of the dull, mechanistic process of churning out uninspired children, I learned to do what was expected of me. My lessons were formulaic and unimaginative. I followed what was given to me. Why? Because people told me what to do. They told me that it was right to have a planning cycle which involved simple lessons lacking in engagement and dynamism. They encouraged me to concentrate on the end product rather than the process! The whole show was about me and my teaching. I had created a performance that was theatrical without the humour, entertainment or value. It was never about the children even if I thought it was at the time.
I was one dimensional. I only cared about getting it done in the allotted time given to me. My lessons didn’t test the students. The activities didn’t give the students the opportunity to demonstrate their creativity and depth. The lessons and activities were designed to be easy to prepare, resource and teach. They allowed me to teach at the surface of the ocean of understanding but never beyond!
Four years ago…
I finally emerged from the primordial pedagogical ooze and started to experiment with my teaching style; this was at the behest of my head teacher. She gave me the opportunity to move beyond the confines of the three point lesson (introduction – main activity – plenary). She offered me the chance to take part in the COETAIL course, and through this incredible experience I began to think and work in ways I never had before. I looked at things differently. I experimented with lessons, ideas, planning, technology and resources. I collaborated with others and actively worked to combine their ideas and my own so that my lessons were more interesting and challenging for the students – I wanted to empower the students to be true learners; and more importantly – rounded people!
I looked at different ways to improve my student’s understanding, enjoyment and engagement inside the classroom. I became more positive in what I did. I experimented and took chances. I actively sought out innovative teaching methods, content and approaches which would allow me to become a better educator.
I had become a different teacher.
I became interested in what I did and I wanted to change it so that the students in my class got to have a better education than I got; not that I got a bad one! But as I look back, it could have been so much better…
This is my mission statement! Just like Jerry Maguire.
I have seen what can be done when people are willing to change or adapt (even a little). It can bring about beautiful things. I have seen what can happen when people are willing to go that little bit extra to make an educational experience more real for the students. I have seen all this and yet…
So many teachers don’t want to change! So many teachers want to take the easy path! So many teachers want to skim the surface of the educational ocean. They simply want to exist as a teacher. After all, it’s only a job! Make sure you do everything that needs to be done in a day, then go home and relax. You deserve it after putting in a good 9 hours. Mark those books. Fill in those reports. Get those resources ready. Do just enough and everything will continue as before. The students will come in. The students will learn. And life will go on as it has since I was in school. Don’t change it if ain’t broken hey!
If you are a teacher, year leader, faculty leader, subject leader, assistant deputy headteacher, deputy headteacher, headteacher or principal and you are reading this then I want you to read the following questions and decide whether you really care enough:
- Do I enjoy what I do?
- Do I do everything that I can possibly do to help those around me to reach their full potential?
- Do I really believe that I am doing the right thing to get those students in my care to where they need to be (as students and people)?
- Am I willing (at times) to go above and beyond what is required of me?
In all honesty, I don’t know if I am correct to write and publish this post but sometimes you just need to put your thoughts down on digital pen and paper.
I see so many great things in teaching being performed by so many wonderful teachers; and it breaks my heart to know that if we were all a little more willing to get on board we might just make the world a better place for everyone!