Teaching is often described as a bug, by @MrCJHewitt

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The teaching bug


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This post answers the 24th question from my TeacherToolkit Thinking page of Thunks. You can see my other top-Thunks here.  Thunk 24: The day I caught the teaching-bug… by senior teacher, Craig Hewitt.

Teaching is often described as a bug…

English: Stegomyia aegypti (formerly Aedes aeg...


I see it like a virus.

Having been a committed sufferer for 16 years or so, I often see new staff going through the early stages of the disease. That tired, drawn look, the eagerness over new ideas, spending holidays with an eye out for “new resources”; Twittering about their illness to other sufferers…

“…Some will be cured and move on, some won’t really have the bug and so battle through…

Some will be cured and move on, some won’t really have the bug and so battle through without embracing all that the disease can bring. Many of us will have a lifelong affliction. The thing is, unlike most “bugs”, the ‘teaching one’ actually enriches your life, and even the lives of others.

…I supposed I had my first virion exposure as a junior-school student in the early 1980’s. Mrs Adams (I never did find out her first name) told my mother that I was very good at helping other students and that I would make a great teacher one day.

I idolised Mrs Adams so her word was gospel.

For a while I was going to be a teacher. Perhaps like a true virus, the bug had already taken over?

“…I wanted to be in The A Team; Knight Rider or some other whim…”

…By the end of the week, at the tender age of 6 or 7, I wanted to be in The A Team; Knight Rider or some other whim.  Around 20 years passed before the symptoms kicked in. On reflection though, the “bug” was nurtured throughout my junior and secondary school career – it had begun to penetrate.

The virus spreads from person to person, entering the body through the mind’s eye perhaps?

Hence, like many of us I was inspired and infected by my own teachers. I wasn’t sure which of my teachers were “outstanding”, except that some made school fascinating and gave me a ‘love for learning’.

Mr. Whittaker
“…I still have fond and clear memories of walking on the side benches…”

I was inspired by my very first science teacher, Mr Whittaker. I still have fond and clear memories of walking on the side benches all around the room in the “style” of different animals. I have since discovered ‘animal perambulation’ isn’t in the national curriculum, but as with many other experiments, they made me look forward to science.

The virus learned but waited.

“…A pretty humiliating experience for a 14 year old boy…”

Some teachers acted as anti-viral agents – the lovely Ms. S – English Literature for one. The crone who allegedly taught us constantly berated the class for being thick (we weren’t); told us we didn’t appreciate literature (we did) and that we would amount to nothing.  Other powerful agents of “cure” were the fearsome Languages thug of a teacher, who shouted so much at a classmate that he literally wet himself – I can still see him running from the room and a small pool being left in his chair. A pretty humiliating experience for a 14-year-old boy.

I continued onto A levels and having 2 sciences and maths as my choice, I was destined for Engineering. As far as teaching was concerned to quote Douglas Adams:

“The slightest thought hadn’t even begun to speculate about the merest possibility of crossing my mind”. 

Four years later and I am a happily employed Design and QA Engineer. Designing, making, testing, and even inventing “things”. An important man in the company! We had a very profitable defence contract on the go and enough work ticking over, that we were growing by the day.

My virus was clearly in remission?

Then one day the MD’s wife came into work – she was a Headteacher at a local comprehensive and was looking for some help with Physics – and we are still pretty rare-beasts, so it would seem.  The MD and I shared a look of abject terror and then he uttered a sentence that ultimately changed my life.

“You can sodding well do it – I pay your wages”. 

The next week I was “teaching” Y11 about Ohm’s Law. By the end of July that year, the bug had addled my brain to the point that I told my boss to sod-off back! Actually, Steve was a key factor in nurturing the bug… Brenda had suggested I was pretty useful in the classroom, so he had actively steered work away from me to give me the time to focus on what I clearly really loved.

“…The bug had bitten and I was on the other side…”

In the summer of 1995 I took up my first teaching post. The bug had bitten and I was on the “other side” with my fellow afflicted colleagues. I haven’t been in remission since.

All of us have the “how I came to be here” story – how we got the bug. Sometimes now, I can see the bug worming its way into people. Finding the right host. The PGCE’s we mentor; even the students within lessons…

I’ve had the odd 6th former return to us for some advice or experience on a PGCE. Some of them are, I think, destined to be lifelong sufferers and it brings a smile to my face. My own kids will hopefully be taught by bearers of the bug.

by teacher Craig Hewitt, edited and posted by @TeacherToolkit.

Craig Hewitt is a Faculty Leader for Science in an Outstanding academy – currently seconded to SLT for (and developing) SMSC in school. Building a house in my spare time (so its going slowly). An understanding wife, 2 awesome kids and a big stupid dog. Craig works at Finham Park School in Coventry. You call follow Craig on Twitter, at @MrCJHewitt

CJHewitt pic
Craig Hewitt is a Faculty Leader for Science at Finham Park School in Coventry.

One thought on “Teaching is often described as a bug, by @MrCJHewitt

  1. This is brilliant Craig! I think I was genetically predisposed to catch the bug (mum and brother both primary teachers…), but I fought it off for a few years after university, thinking I didn’t want to join the family ” business”. However, the inevitable happened and I became well and truly infected with the bug during my PGCE and subsequent teaching posts. For the next 17 years or so, I thought that It was incurable, and even got myself seconded to work as a consultant in order to spread the infection even further. Unfortunately, for the last couple of years I think that those “anti-virals” you mentioned have started to weaken my defences and I had started to lose my enthusiasm and commitment. (Not so good when you are the deputy head and supposed to be an example to others…). Luckily, I discovered online CPD through NCSL, joined twitter and discovered a whole load of hopelessly bug infected people like teacher toolkit and followers. I am well on my way to re-infection and am determined never to let this happen again!! Thanks for the inspiration and for that extra anti-antiviral shot!!

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