It’s an interesting question how to make teaching better for who really counts. I know that you will (lovely teacher types) say that teaching is for the pupils. That they are what really counts. We get up every day, sometimes dog tired or ill, to make a difference for the kids in our school. It is, as the Meer cat would say, ‘simples.’
Actually, with all the teacher wellbeing stuff doing the rounds, I wonder if really we do a lot of what we do for ourselves too. As a profession, I see a lot of our own personal identities invested in our job. There is an undeniable happiness that comes from enjoying your job, and feeling like you a making a difference. If this is the case, then teaching is in many senses not totally altruistic. So some of those that really matter are us: Us as individuals, us as colleagues, us as school communities.
Really what counts isn’t just attainment – although this is of course the key to social mobility. What counts is the experience of school. The skills we learn and the grown-ups we become eventually. Some with this in mind I have written a What Counts manifesto:
The kids count. First and foremost. Listen to them. Be aware that a throw away comment can have a lasting damaging impact.
So – learn names. Be free at lunchtimes to offer support. Be interested. Share some of yourself with your classes.
Teachers count. Be the kind of person you yourself would want to work with. Pursue being a better teacher. Accept that we are never done learning.
So- ask how people are and be actually interested. Buy the cake on Fridays. Help people out when they need it. Go to TeachMeets. Be open to taking risks in your professional practice. Reflect on, and share your practice.
Senior Leaders count. They make hard decision and are only human. Look beyond the role and see the person.
So – Challenge when needed, and support.
Parents count. Even when they frustrate you. Remember they have handed over to your care the most precious thing in their lives.
So – be the best communicator you can be. Show them you care. Share the positives alongside the negatives.
Our local communities count. Give back to them whenever you can.
So – work on partnership schemes. Give your time and effort to doing wider good.
This reads are being ideological in a wider sense, but I am writing this on International Happiness day, and despite a rather anti-climactic eclipse, the sun is now shining. How much difference could we make to those who count if we all tried to remember who really matters when improving teaching? The answer is of course, that we all count. So let’s work towards a classroom environment where we are all valued, and actually feel it. I don’t think this is quite so simples…..