Friday, 12 February 2016

Secret Teacher - What this is all about


Many books have been written about being a good parent, bringing up children, producing a healthy child, and even revision guides on the primary and secondary syllabus. (That’s what kids are taught throughout their time within the School system, or meant to be taught!)

But what goes on in the staff room? What makes a normal human being want to be a teacher? Become a Primary or Secondary teacher? What makes a teacher tick?
While each person is an individual with different morals, ideas and personality traits, it is possible to generalise. That is what this blog is all about. Teachers are a breed in themselves. And believe me, it takes a teacher to understand a teacher! 

You may look back on your school-days with some fond memories, some darker events, you may have believed that school was an extended social club. Some of today's school children still treat school as a social activity! School dinners too, it is hard to believe that we actually lived to tell the tale with the sometimes strange and unpalatable food served.  My own memories were very mixed, I was a clever student, with an aptitude for sports, but with a strong personality that did cause a few problems. But that is for me to know, and I would not like to be judged harshly by my childhood actions! As a child I always had a sense of fair play, and it is with these young memories that shaped my teaching and understanding of the young people in my care. I have always classed myself as a teacher who could reach into the minds of children, using sometimes whatever method I deemed appropriate at the time to establish a good learning environment. Because as a teacher it is not about teaching young people about a particular topic, but creating a learning environment so that the children learn and understand a particular topic.

And how do I fit in? I am a teacher, and have been teaching for over a decade in many teaching environments, with challenging kids, with nice kids, in normal schools, in schools that quite frankly I wouldn't send my worst enemy to and high achieving schools. I have worked in Primary Schools, Secondary Schools, Further Education Colleges, and Universities. (Believe me even University lecturers have the same traits as Primary School teachers!)  Did you know, for example that Primary teachers think Secondary teachers have an easier life? That the higher up the school system you go, the less likely the teacher or lecturer has a formal teaching qualification? That 'Cover Supervisors' and/or Teaching assistants are used to teach classes? (Possibly without a degree or post-graduate teaching qualification?) That I have come across head teachers who work from home?

For parents or carer's, sending their children into school is a mostly unknown entity. While they have past memories of schools, and their learning experiences, what you see, or are allowed to see on open days, and evenings before they start school is certainly not the full picture. Even the children within the school will not be fully aware of the politics, mind games, pressures and games that teachers play in that school.  This may sound harsh, and for every negative comment I make it is covered by at least five positives, but it is time that the door was opened to the people who trust and use our educational system. I have always believed that the most important people within the school is the children, for without them a school would not exist. Yet, quite frankly they are hardly ever asked what they want out of their education. Believe it or not, but as they are users of the service, the children should be asked. I once pondered this question to a group of 15 year old Business studies students. The general feeling was that they felt frustrated at not having a say, and felt that the system was such that they had to fit into it. That the square became round, and the terms of individualised education was ridiculous. 

I once asked the question in a staff meeting that was looking at breakthrough teaching methods. I asked why it was, that we were using a system for education that was decades old. That although subject choice had increased, I mean who would have thought of learning Psychology! the actual 9 to 3.30 or thereabouts, 5 days per week was still the same.  Working practices for example have changed, mass production, conveyor style environments, working from home, to name but a few.  But not school?  The answer I was given was that instead of going forward, that we should look back. Primarily to Grammar School style education. My thoughts on this? At this time teachers also used physical violence towards children. So perhaps this was also pertinent to those teachers?

I believe that there are people who work within a system, and people who work within a system constantly looking for any other routes to provide a system. My argument has always been that had not people looked for other opportunities then we would still be living in the dark ages, jumping with pleasure at discovering that a round object could become a wheel. I will mention in this blog that I am not looking for change for changes sake, but that change is inevitable and necessary in a changing world. 

So I am happy if my outcomes are achieved. What I set to achieve has been fulfilled. How I have achieved that objective is not important, what is important is that the best possible outcome is reached. This idea is not one that sits happy with many teachers, who are happy to exist within a stale environment. It takes all, however, to create a world!

So on reading this, my objective is that you gain a deeper understanding of what goes on within the school walls. That your own memories should not be subjected through your child. That you and your child are the most important aspects of your statutory education, and that in order to make the system work for you, you need to know how teachers think. How to get through the maze of bureaucracy that schools and teachers use to protect their believed power within a community. To get through the jargon that exists and to show you that a school staff room is actually not that scary. Well perhaps that last statement is not quite true, even teachers know not to borrow another teacher’s mug, or face being known as a mug snatcher!

So this is not a cure, or a solution for a cheeky chap, a child who is badly behaved or for parents to think that if they follow this to the letter that they will produce the next Prime Minister. It is a for parents to gain an understanding of the English school system that every child, with few exceptions, will follow in 21st Century England.

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