Last time I attended our staff Christmas party. A enjoyable time was had by all, especially with the free-flowing beer and extensive range of spicy delights sent to celebrate a successful term. There was a camaraderie that comes when you work in a school.
Later that evening, on my return and before bed, I sifted through my to-do list until I came across a series of references I was due to check. One reference was to gander at one of the professional educational speakers: a chap with a great looking website. Looking at his teaching record, though, I could see that he had been teaching for a remarkably small length of time, and even then in a non-mainstream classroom. He strives for evidenced-based teaching, and writers witty (and acerbic) posts against others. Yet he does not have the demands of the classroom teacher. Are his excellent blog posts and increasing influence affected by this lack of presence?
Whatever can be said about my blog, of its disjointed nature and deliberate lack of political awareness, it has the credibility that I am a classroom teacher (at least currently!). I sustain the extensive energy needed to live a full life while teaching a full timetable. I believe that organisation and reflection can make someone with little charisma a decent teacher – I know that to inspire the range of human beings arrayed in front of me takes charisma.
I was considering last night, as I returned home in the December night, of the students that I have sometimes failed to inspire to always rise above their troubles. Students whose issues with language, learning (and, indeed, life) seemed intractable. I remember a long time ago teaching two students – who required refocussing and prompting literally every lesson for two years – who weeks before their exam were administrationally admonished for assaulting a much younger student. While their academic chances was somewhat undone by their necessary absence from school at a pivotal time, all I could hope for really for those students is that some seeds of education were at least sown for a time when they were ready to grow them. It doesn’t abate my sense that literally every student needs to pass well in my classes; it tempers ambition with real life.
Even those two students who did not rise above their situations hopefully, at the very least, had the seeds of language manipulation sown in their minds. The only ambition worth striving is that these students, as all, do better in my class than any other.
So, should I listen to someone’s ideas as a classroom teacher if they are not one? Of course: an idea is an idea. Should I demand a discussion practical applications of their ideas in my classroom? I should think so. Will that happen?
Sunday chores beckon!