Do you remember the teacher that made the difference?

When taking part in teacher training days, I often pose the question, ‘What is the most important aspect of being a teacher?’ That’s a tricky question because most will look for a professional, academic response but, for me, the most important aspect of being a teacher is to be liked: not necessarily respected, certainly not feared, but rather someone to whom a young person can relate.

Why do I think that? Well, if you are a teacher do you believe you have a long-lasting impact on the lives of you students? What will your current students remember about your classes? Actually, what do you hope they will remember about your classes? In other words, are you interested in the notion of personal legacy?

This creates interesting conversations because often educators get bogged down by the minutiae of the ‘job’, ticking the boxes that our line managers, employers, Government, HMIe, GTCS, Care Inspectorate, local authorities, quality improvement officers etc. demand of us.

I would encourage all educators to see those demands as of relatively little importance. What matters is the relationships we build with our students. Perhaps we need to see ourselves as ‘coaches’ rather than teachers or instructors. That simple semantic change can often create a difference in our personal methodology. If we see our job as coaching, the relationship between ourselves and our students quickly becomes more collaborative and more conducive to a healthy working relationship.

So, I often remind teachers that when children like us, they will do anything to please us. They work harder, they become more readily inspired and they develop their own aspirations.

Teach with kindness, teach with energy, teach with passion and enjoy the journey.

As for form-filling, development plans and pleasing those in power, place those in the correct context – children first, everyone and everything else a very distant second. And I mean so far in the distance that they are barely noticeable…

Rod Grant
30 November 2018