Ben Connor is a Year 5 teacher at St. Michael’s Church of England Primary School. He has been teaching at St. Michael’s for 7 years in various year groups and is the R.E. and Computing Subject Leader. Ben is interested in the use of media to inspire writing, especially film and also using technology to enhance learning across the curriculum. He has been active on Twitter for over a year, stealing hundreds of good ideas and contributing a few of his own.
'Wellbeing' is a word that has been bandied around for a while with regard to teaching as a profession. It generally stems from the issues that come from teaching being a stressful job. I imagine it has always been so: taking 30 young minds and guiding them (sometimes unwillingly) towards educational enlightenment is stressful. However, when you add the current climate in teaching in our country, “stressful” isn't a strong enough word.
It’s been a hard few weeks. Every day when I wake up and turn on the TV, there seems to be more and more terrible things happening in the world. Sometimes this makes it hard to get out of bed, get to work and put on your ‘teacher’ face. Difficult questions from pupils and answers that seem hollow.
The most dreaded date in the diary: the Class Assembly. When I see a note in my diary (underlined three times) reminding me ‘Two weeks until Class Assembly’, something inside me dies. 30 children stood in rows, performing songs or poetry or skits. Parents sat on rickety chairs, transfixed as their darlings (each one a future Emma Stone or Ryan Gosling) perform their two painstakingly memorised lines. Each assembly on a different topic: with a different year group, different group of children. Each assembly however feels very similar. 30 children stood in rows, benches, songs, poetry, skits, etc etc.
Editor’s note: Were you at this amazing event? If so, share your experiences of the day in the comments below. Be sure to get in touch, as we’re keen to collaborate with as many Primary Rockers as possible!
When I tell my colleagues about Twitter, I often get the eye-roll. ‘Here he goes again, banging on about Social Media.’ ‘I don’t understand a word of what he’s saying.’ Use the words ‘edu-chat’ and I’ve lost them completely.
One of the best things about being a teacher is the ability to make children cry.
Before you get out the flaming torches and pitchforks, I don’t mean that in the way you might assume. That sort of attitude has no place in modern teaching. Rather, the thing that I enjoy is when something you do as a teacher, a lesson, an activity, or an experience, causes your pupils to have an emotional experience.
Think tension. Think Music. Think a knife and a shower curtain. Think a rocking boat and glinting teeth...
When teaching my pupils about tension in narrative, I turn to film scores. We’ve all been there: a darkened cinema, the heavy breathing of a potential victim, the slow building music, an increase in heart rate. The scene reaches its climax and the victim is caught by the ghost/vampire/serial killer/rabbit. Now play the scene without the music. Does it have the same impact? Does your heart beat in quite the same way? Why does a building “duh duh…duh duh” have us sprinting for the shore?