I recently posed the following question to a few different groups of teachers: “What is the role of a teacher?” Of the 100+ teachers I questioned, the general consensus was that a teacher should prepare the student to be a successful adult. I took that to mean that we need to give children the skills that will help them to be successful since we have only a vague idea of the tasks that kids will be fulfilling in 10 to 20 years time. I had been planning on writing something along these lines for a while. Oddly enough, it was a Twitter conversation involving @teachertoolkit about a BBC article on outsourcing marking that made me finally put pen to paper:
As Sir Anthony Seldon stood on the stage, he slipped his jacket down his arms, slid his shoes off and kicked them to the side, chatting away to the audience as though nothing was amiss… then, out of the blue, he flipped himself upside down, into a headstand, balancing solidly, still. “I think I’ll do the rest of the talk this way,” he said, humour in his tone. The great academic from Wellington College was doing a yoga move on the stage and the audience went nuts! Where was this great feat of physical and mental strength happening? At The IPEN (International Positive Education Network) Festival in Dallas, Texas.
If you’re a member or school leadership or administration, there are so many things to consider, but really, the first thing should be the welfare of the teachers at your school. How do you do this? Well, how often is this a topic for discussion among administrators? Not hardly enough. The fact is, there are very few people in a school whose main job is really to ensure that teachers are well supported and cared for. The principal or headteacher is at the top of this list.
This blog is an overview of a presentation that I delivered at a Lead Meet event in June 2016. The end of my first senior leadership post has provided the best opportunity to reflect upon the most relevant things that I have learnt. In this role, it became apparent that the skills and attributes that helped me reach this particular point were not necessarily the ones that would enhance my skills / influence as a leader. The seven points below are a summary of my reflections during this period of time and an outline of things I wish that I had known at the start.
“Brrr, it’s too cold, I’m not going out in that!”... “Yuk! It’s raining, I HATE getting wet, and my shoes aren’t waterproof.”… “I know they aren’t going to hurt me, but I’m scared of things that fly and buzz.”... “I don’t like getting dirty”. Familiar excuses they may be, but they rarely come from the mouths of children. Too often it is teachers who reluctantly drag themselves outside, feeling like fishes out of water and miles away from the comfort of the classroom.
Growing up in a small Kent village as I did, I experienced the wonders of the countryside and the fresh open air. I was lucky that almost every day I spent playing in fields, climbing trees, kicking a ball and experiencing the sights, smells and feel of the great outdoors. In turn, my children and their friends all were able to do the same, always out and about in puddles, fields or a woods.
In celebration of Finland’s centenary year in 2017, the team behind Finnish edu-innovators HundrED are looking at the future of education worldwide. A global, non-profit project, HundrED is aiming to bring together a vision of education for the next 100 years, collecting 100 innovations from Finland and a further 100 from around the world, along with commentary from global thought leaders. The findings will be documented as a book, a documentary, a series of international seminars and a toolkit for teachers, all to be shared with the world for free.
Think back to a wonderful holiday or even a weekend away, where you are in beautiful surroundings, in great company and doing things that you love. Yet remember that feeling in the pit of your stomach on the last few days as you realise this experience is coming to an end, and that work looms just a few days ahead. That’s the same feeling many students will feel if they’ve had a great holiday… but it will manifest itself differently and in more complex ways if they’ve had a bad one.
I have just finished my 22nd year of teaching. By rights, as a teacher, I should be pretty stale now. Most classes should groan when they realise that they will have me as a teacher. They might imagine that I am one of those teachers who goes back to a folder of worksheets, digs out the most appropriate one for the class, wipes off the dust and makes enough copies of it for my students to let them complete it and so on. After all these years my students might think that I should know how to teach everything and that teaching grammar topics is something I have mastered and can do off the top of my head. Surely, they imagine, I have mastered the job and do it the same old way as I have always done - the job is easy for me and perhaps my students might think that I am a little boring.
Russel Tarr, aka The Mr Men Teacher, is a British expat living and working in the southern French city of Toulouse. Frequently appearing at CPD events, History teacher Russel is well known for his websites activehistory.co.uk and classtools.net. He’s also the organiser and host of the Practical Pedagogies Conference at his native International School of Toulouse.