Making teaching better

#digimeet

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….. 

Author Profile

Rachel Jones

Rachel Jones

Teacher & eLearning coordinator. GTC, MCE, & Pedagoo curator. Fed up of ego online

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Comments

Jo Baker Jo Baker @jobaker 2 years ago
Love this. So important. And true. Bang on Rachel, yet again.
Freya Odell Freya Odell @fod3 2 years ago
100% agree with all of this :-)
Ben Ward Ben Ward @mrbenward 2 years ago
Captures the heart of all passionate educators, teachers and leaders
Lesley Munro Lesley Munro @lesleymunro 2 years ago
Agree. Always trying to be a better teacher.
Jo Baker Jo Baker @jobaker 2 years ago
I think many of us teachers are also perfectionists. Continually searching for absolute perfection. But. The fun is in the journey. I just love it. I was an awful, awful student. If I could go back to school I would. I am just doing it now, through my students.
Liane Pitcher-Leigh Liane Pitcher-Leigh @lplflippedeng 2 years ago
Absolutely. I remember being told "never share yourself with children: they really aren't interested". I have never found this to be true, anywhere I have taught. Fab post!
Stephen Lockyer Stephen Lockyer @mrlockyer 2 years ago
Fab work and very true. Good things come to those who give, not wait.
Rebecca Stacey Rebecca Stacey @bekblayton 2 years ago
Well said. Think it is easy to forget about the importance of school in a wider community sense. It can fall apart when we forget these things.
[Retired Colleague] [Retired Colleague] [Retired Colleague] 2 years ago
Like this Rachel. It's important to remember that teachers and students and othger stakeholders are human and prone to error and having feelings. Having said that, I would still ensure that the challenge is there as sometimes, especially when having difficult conversations, we need to cut to the chase.
Stephanie Standing Stephanie Standing @mrsstanding 2 years ago
Any tips on getting an established department to be more open to sharing good practice?
Stephanie Standing Stephanie Standing @mrsstanding 2 years ago
Any tips on getting an established department to be more open to sharing good practice?
Amy Harvey Amy Harvey @ms_jamdangory 2 years ago
Quite right Rach, and yet I sometimes feel it is the same people who are trying to do what you suggest who are the ones making the difference, but the ones who need to (like my own son's science teachers!!) are likely to be closed minded and averse to change, growth etc. makes me feel sad for my kids and others who have teachers with apathy!
Doug Belshaw Doug Belshaw @dajbelshaw 2 years ago
Agree with all of this @rlj1981. Just wondering how much of the issues that (to be honest) *most* teachers have is structural.

How can we change that?

De-politicise the education system? Work more closely with those who have chosen to leave the classroom (for whatever reason)?
Kimberley Constable Kimberley Constable @hecticteacher 2 years ago
Totally agree and try very hard to do a lot of those things. Although I would say learning names of over 600 students is quite tough!
Jo Baker Jo Baker @jobaker 2 years ago
I remember the most important teachers in my school life. The only ones I liked were the ones who gave me a little bit of themselves. I got to know them. I respected them and felt like I was important to them. I try to do that.
Claire Bracher Claire Bracher @missb 2 years ago
I always remind myself of the teachers I remember and why I remember them... they gave their time to me - for one reason or another they gave me something I didn't have before... and that's why I will always remember Mrs Evison... it's magic that lasts forever.
Zebedee Friedman Zebedee Friedman @zebfriedman 2 years ago
Respect is the key... two way respect.
Jane  Basnett Jane Basnett @janebasnett 2 years ago
Yes. Stephanie. Ditch the humdrum (do that by email) make meetings all about practice.
Freya Odell Freya Odell @fod3 2 years ago
Very important to take a step back and reflect on a more wider scale about the impact you have had..
Jennifer Hart Jennifer Hart @jenniferhart 2 years ago
Stephanie - put it on the agenda every meeting. Item number 1!
Jane  Basnett Jane Basnett @janebasnett 2 years ago
Nice work Rachel
Zebedee Friedman Zebedee Friedman @zebfriedman 2 years ago
Students know when a teacher doesn't respect them...
Zebedee Friedman Zebedee Friedman @zebfriedman 2 years ago
Students know when a teacher doesn't respect them...
Drew Thomson Drew Thomson @mrthomson 2 years ago
We were talking in a meeting t'other day about the best form of intervention with students and there was an overwhelming conclusion that face-to-face is the most impactful (despite time required for the teacher) and that communication home and involving the parents was hugely important. You've really emphasised here how every person is important and they all deserve attention.

Being a reflective teacher and thinking about the impact you can have is so important. Well said @rlj1981 :)
Nina Elliott Nina Elliott @senoraelliott 2 years ago
Agreed :) on the parent bit - have started calling parents mid lesson to give immediate positive feedback - 'the magic phonecall' - My Y7s never ever been so motivated - rest of class give them a round of applause
Abigail Mann Abigail Mann @abster 2 years ago
I love this. Schools are happier places when we all work together for a common purpose. Thank you for sharing such good advice :-
Kimberley Constable Kimberley Constable @hecticteacher 2 years ago
Amy Harvey, I sometimes feel the same, that when offered with new ideas they are met with disdain and my most hated phrase "We don't do that here"
Lenny Dutton Lenny Dutton @missedutton 2 years ago
This is great - I think we often forget to look after ourselves and I often see teachers really suffering with poor mental and physical health - I think we need to think more about self-care!
Lenny Dutton Lenny Dutton @missedutton 2 years ago
This is great - I think we often forget to look after ourselves and I often see teachers really suffering with poor mental and physical health - I think we need to think more about self-care!
Lenny Dutton Lenny Dutton @missedutton 2 years ago
Really liked this post - especially being reminded that parents count-even when they frustrate us!
[Retired Colleague] [Retired Colleague] [Retired Colleague] 2 years ago
@stephwelsford something coming up for you in my post perhaps. @dajbelshaw spot on Doug - the education system needs to stay still for a moment to all us to focus
Liane Pitcher-Leigh Liane Pitcher-Leigh @lplflippedeng 2 years ago
Create a PLC involving colleagues from a range of departments, with a common focus?
Jemma Toyne Jemma Toyne @jems512 2 years ago
First time one of my Y6 asked what I thought during a history cause and effect lesson. Made it real that they cared what my opinion was, not just a deliverer of knowledge and skills but a person too
Bryn Goodman Bryn Goodman @bgoodman 2 years ago
Great post. Teaching is the kind of job where we need to look after each other as well as provide for the children we teach.
Fiona Thomas Fiona Thomas @fthomas 2 years ago
Great Rachel. Things to remember and actually do!
Jill Berry Jill Berry @jillberry 2 years ago
Great stuff, Rachel - and I like that you include senior leaders. I get so weary of the SLT bashing which sometimes comes through Twitter and blogs. I hope if staff feel their SLT aren't great, they will a) support them and help them to be better (manage upwards!) and then b) go on to be better SLT themselves in due course.
Zebedee Friedman Zebedee Friedman @zebfriedman 2 years ago
We don't allow admin or AOB on any of our department agendas... If it's important to T&L then it gets on the agenda.
Simon Johnson Simon Johnson @clcsimon 2 years ago
Agree 100%, especially with the last sentiment! 'Let’s work towards a classroom environment where we are all valued, and actually feel it."
Kimberley Constable Kimberley Constable @hecticteacher 2 years ago
Nina Elliot I really like that idea of "magic phonecall" although I might get into trouble for having my phone out in the lesson :/
[Retired Colleague] [Retired Colleague] [Retired Colleague] 2 years ago
This is a wonderful read for a Sunday! :-)
[Retired Colleague] [Retired Colleague] [Retired Colleague] 2 years ago
@stephwelsford what I would say is don't shy away from the difficult conversations, and ensure that the expectation is there to share, but, more importantly, you have structures in place to do so and lead by example. Often, teachers are too busy with meaningless tasks to remember to share.
Ben Ward Ben Ward @mrbenward 2 years ago
I'd second that @mrsstanding @jenniferhart - I introduced a weekly bulletin sheet to get all the admin out of all our faculty tome so we can develop practice, talk teaching and learning, share ideas and debate practice
Emma McCrea Emma McCrea @emmamccrea 2 years ago
"Pursue being a better teacher. Accept that we are never done learning." So powerful, especially if all teachers subscribed to this ideal
Zebedee Friedman Zebedee Friedman @zebfriedman 2 years ago
Believing everyone is doing the best they can in that moment. We give students time to calm down, do we do the same for each other?
Jane  Basnett Jane Basnett @janebasnett 2 years ago
Rachel it's a v good point to remind us senior leaders are people too!
Andrea Jenkins Andrea Jenkins @andreajenkins 2 years ago
Great post, we have to remember when teaching gets tough, the more you give the more you get back.
[Retired Colleague] [Retired Colleague] [Retired Colleague] 2 years ago
Great post. Full of good reminders. I'm stopping for cake on the way to school tomorrow! Who said it has to be Cake Friday?!? Cake Monday is the way forward!
Jo Baker Jo Baker @jobaker 2 years ago
Totally agree Emma. This is the reason why teaching is such a wonderful thing. We are never 'done'
Nina Elliott Nina Elliott @senoraelliott 2 years ago
@hecticteacher I'm always getting in trouble for something :) this has made profound impact though - even with Y10s
Kimberley Constable Kimberley Constable @hecticteacher 2 years ago
Nina Elliot I think sometime the most innovative teachers are the ones who get into trouble most :P
Linda Doyle Linda Doyle @mrsdoyle 2 years ago
More coffee and croisant breakfasts on a Friday to glue the department together
Abigail Mann Abigail Mann @abster 2 years ago
Agreed @emmamccrea Besides, how dull would life be if we were ever unlucky enough to be 'done' learning?
Sam Williams Sam Williams @samwilliams 2 years ago
Love your manifesto! I would vote for you! :-)
Campbell  Guy Campbell Guy @cam1977 2 years ago
Magical phone call - magic idea!
Helena Marsh Helena Marsh @helenamarsh 2 years ago
Great stuff! Every child matters. Every person counts.
Jo Baker Jo Baker @jobaker 2 years ago
Thanks @emmamccrea - fabulous stuff! Getting there, eventually.
Ben Sutcliffe Ben Sutcliffe @sutcliffeb 2 years ago
Some great ideas here, thanks!
Rory Gallagher Rory Gallagher @rorygallagher 2 years ago
Awesome and inspiring as ever Rachel. Relentless positivity - my new mantra this year!
Rebecca Kirkby Rebecca Kirkby @missk 2 years ago
We used to use a buddy system for staff in my last school. Only one member of staff knew who everybody buddy was. The idea was that you would very informally keep an eye on that member of staff and be there to congratulate or be a shoulder to lean on. It's easy to become isolated in a busy school. I never found out who mine was until I left but I would often come into my classroom and find something like a daffodil on my desk or a Rolo in my pigeon hole. Really lovely and simple idea to help promote well being across the whole of the staff. Turns out my daffodil giver was our caretaker!
Sheli Blackburn Sheli Blackburn @shelibb 2 years ago
Great post - positivity is a necessity in schools, even if it has to be done very subtly at times because morale is low (and you don't want to be the one with that slappable face). I make cakes often - they're not the answer, they're not a 'cure' but they are, imho, a great way of saying thank you
Stephen Lockyer Stephen Lockyer @mrlockyer 2 years ago
We have two staff meetings at school each week - one main meeting, which is admin, dates etc, and one curriculum meeting - what and how are we teaching. Works v well.
Sheli Blackburn Sheli Blackburn @shelibb 2 years ago
@MrLockyer I heard recently about another school that has two staff meetings. How long are they? Not sure it would go down well at some schools.
Rachel Jones Rachel Jones @rlj1981 2 years ago
Wow. Thank you for all the comments. Actually, this was the first post I wrote, which I had rewritten. I pressed publish and the original draft appeared. I am now ho-humming with if I should publish the second one..... really thank you for taking the time to read this. It means a lot to me.
Flora RH Richards Flora RH Richards @cupacoco 2 years ago
Thank you @rlj1981 for posting this. I agree, if it really were 'simples', then surely we'd all be working in schools with vibrant CPD and CPD Learning networks, throughout the school year(!) if only!

You might have ideas you're able to add to my first staffrm post about how to encourage more staff to support Teaching and Learning in a busy school? http://staffrm.io/@cupacoco/IuIOQTIIJZ
Thanks again for posting!

Have a fab week to all and enjoy the holiday!
Flora
Flora RH Richards Flora RH Richards @cupacoco 2 years ago
@missk The Secret Buddy system is a lovely idea and it's a great way to involve all staff and get to know other people. I suppose it's a bit like secret santa but all year round!
Alina Doroftei Alina Doroftei @msd 2 years ago
What an interesting post and thought-provoking at the same time! For me the best teaching isn't accustomed, it's personal. Different people teach in different ways because of who they are and how they see the world. Or, as Palmer says, "We teach who we are." The act of teaching requires the courage to explore one's sense of identity. If you don't fully know yourself, Palmer says, you can't fully know your pupils, and therefore, you can't connect with them.
Alina Doroftei Alina Doroftei @msd 2 years ago
Great post! However, I like the idea of teachers and technology rather than teachers or technology. This is because it is widely agreed that technology has revolutionized how teachers teach and how pupils learn. The importance and benefits of education technology to the teachers and students cannot be ignored. Technology has made it easier for teachers to impart knowledge to the pupils and for pupils to acquire it. I think it is widely agreed that the use of technology in schools has also made the process of learning and teaching enjoyable.
Mary Evans Mary Evans @misse 2 years ago
Super post - thank you
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