I’m pretty new to twitter. I follow very few people. I find it all a bit over-whelming really. So many comments, links, blogs, stuff I should read, would like to read. I was shocked when I came to twitter – on a number of levels.
There’s some cracking stuff on there. Some really bright, questioning people. I wasn’t expecting that. Confession time! I think I’m really clever. No, really, I do. This could be completely delusional, but I rarely entertain self-doubt, not when it comes to teaching anyway. I think I know what really matters in teaching. I see a lot of stuff bandied around as “good practice” and I am utterly convinced it’s nonsense. I can be that cocky. Even though, for years and years I’ve been fed a long line of patently silly educational panacea I’ve always, from the very start of my PGCE, turned around and said “NO! That doesn’t make sense. I’m not doing it.”
So when I joined twitter and found there are loads of people out there who really care about what works, about learning and not just career progression, I was shocked. There are some whingers on twitter, some people who blame Ofsted for all the ills in the world. But there are also lots of teachers really focused on honest teaching, teaching you can be proud of, teaching that is about a grown-up talking AT kids! I like that! A grown-up, enthused, passionate, waxing lyrical about a topic he really loves and showing kids, telling kids, didactically pouring knowledge, loads of facts, into their empty little heads. (Surely, I must have grossly offended a few of you by now?)
So, in short, finding twitter and finding that there is an army of teachers out there that believe in their right as the adult authority figure, the grown-up, the subject expert, to just teach, that reassured me a lot. Because, very often I meet teachers who are terrified of just teaching.
Just teaching? You know, the kids come in calmly, settle quickly, you tell them what you know, they listen politely, they practise, they start to feel accomplished and click “This bloke knows his stuff! There’s no hiding in this lesson. And if you do as you’re told…you learn loads.” Just teaching.
Yet, I meet so many teachers on my travels who are frightened to do just that. Often behaviour is the big issue. I was watching a clip of Michael Gove the other day, he was doing this PR exercise where he taught some kids (I thought he was rather good!), anyway, on this clip there was lots of talk about how, to be a teacher, you have to be “brave”; these kids your going to meet Mr Gove “they like to give their opinion”. The tone was all very “you best take your body armour.”
That worries me. You shouldn’t have to be “brave” to be a teacher. Really? Brave? In too many schools, with too many kids, teacher baiting seems to be the sport of choice. We don’t address this enough. We might whine about it, we might try new super shiny initiatives but I worry that we don’t get to the heart of indiscipline in schools. I’ll pontificate about this at length in future blogs (You really can’t wait can you?)
So, this was me, very tentatively introducing myself. In a nutshell, I believe that we are grown-ups and our job is to tell kids stuff. I think we need to keep asking ourselves: “How can I make better use of lesson time? How can I plan this so nobody hides? How could a lazy kid sabotage this? What do they always get wrong in this topic? How can I teach precisely and concisely so I pre-empt the most common errors? Common errors become common because I repeatedly teach the topic ineffectively – where am I going wrong?”
So subsequent blogs will be about those questions I guess. I don’t really know where these blogs will take me yet. I don’t know how long I should make them and I’m questioning my punctuation lots. But, that’s okay. Because people aren’t perfect and we do what we think is best at the time and then we look back at it and go: “Mmm! Not really what I meant!”
Maybe that’s the message we should give to all teachers, all kids, the planet! No, you’re not perfect, you’re ideas will change, should change, just start where you are, there’ll never be the perfect moment and, no, you can’t please all of the people, all of the time. Don’t even try! Instead, look within yourself, discover what you really believe in and be what you really believe in on a daily basis.
PS Have you read Tom Bennett’s Teacher Proof? You really should! Cracking stuff!