I believe that the best teaching is personal. Your pedagogy is intrinsically linked to your personality, of course tempered with systems and teacher. Also, because their teacher has connected with them in a way that allows subject knowledge to be taught and the skills and application of that knowledge to be learned. This is truly lifelong as the reward the child gains and the learning behaviours stick with them.. The best teaching propels on to do their best, and sometimes more than their best because they intrinsically believe they can. Because they have been inspired to believe that by their
In order to be that teacher, the one that inspires those aspirations and a love of learning, you have to have a life; and not just during the summer holidays! I’ll come back to that…
I refer to myself as one of those fortunate people who always knew what I wanted to do. When I played schools as a young child I wanted to become a teacher and I focussed on achieving that aim. Every bit of my effort, from passing the grammar test, to getting good A level grades, following flunked mocks, to getting my degree in the year after my father died, was toward this aim; this dream of being a good teacher.
From my first teaching practice I loved it. Inspiring learning, working hard, being part of a team. It was everything I dreamed it would be and more besides. Yes, it’s hard work and there’s pressure but the reward is well worth it. Knowing you make a difference and that the ripple effect of that difference has such potential to effect positive change.
Teaching was also my rock to cling to in the rough waters of my earlier life. Through bereavement, marital break up and everything life threw my way, there was something I was good at. And the thing I was good at, made a positive difference to others. Teaching added self-esteem and confidence to my life, without question the thing that has helped me more than anything else.
If it were not for teaching I wouldn’t know. I wouldn’t have met my husband and have my lovely children. I would never have learned how to achieve what was thought, at the outset, to be impossible. I wouldn’t have some of my best memories. I wouldn’t have a reserve of experiences to draw upon that make me feel proud to remember. I wouldn’t be a headteacher, with the privilege of leading learning and making a difference to many more lives. I wouldn’t have been asked to write this, and felt that glow of pride in my own work that this reflection has given me.
So, back to the ‘getting a life’ bit. I remember, in the days before I had my daughter, work Lynne and home Lynne were quite different really. I felt that as a teacher I needed to be more ‘prim and proper’ than I naturally am. I acted a role. After I gave birth to my daughter, I returned to work and decided it was time to be myself. Obviously with appropriateness,like a layer of formality and we are authoritative figures by definition. I am open though, with parents and staff. I have experience of many of the other things our parents are struggling with or balancing together to survive each day. I can empathise with many of them. As a parent, I am terrified of going into my daughter’s school, even though I have worked in schools all my adult life! I always remember this feeling when a parent has plucked up the courage to come in and see me.
The fact that my life hasn’t always been a smooth journey has also added to my teaching. It isn’t possible to think properly when things are tough at home, when there are lots of worries and you are not sure how things will be resolved. Ensuring that school is a calm, consistent, safe place where the rules, expectations and rewards are always the same is key. As is, a clarity about the adults being in charge and the boundaries being set.
It is important to enjoy your own life. To make sure you take time to be you, to think and to enjoy time with your family and friends. These experiences are what fill ourreserves. The children, parents and staff at school need our energy and we need to have it there to give them. That can’t happen if we work to the point we are running on empty. Sometimes we don’t recognise the signs of running low on this energy until we are ill.
Use time wisely. Refuel by relaxing, reflecting and laughing with friends and family before your fuel light starts to flash!
Read more about Lynne on her blog or visit her school website.