Trust me... You're Doing Great!

A recent advert has inspired this blog post -


I watched this and thought the same sort of message could be applied to teaching (take away the sitting an exam and CV.) It got me thinking, how often are you told you're doing great?

Every news article I seem to read at the minute about education seems to always have a negative tone. Just to quote one I read today -
"There is nothing anecdotal about this. A recent YouGov poll commissioned by the NUT teaching union suggests 53 per cent of teachers are thinking of quitting in the next couple of years. News reports earlier this year revealed that four out of 10 teachers quit within a year of qualifying. And 11,000 young teachers leave the profession before they have even completed their development as educators. The exodus has almost tripled in six years and there is much talk of a teacher recruitment crisis.
This waste of talent, enthusiasm and youthful idealism is shocking. It is also staggeringly expensive. There is a similar crisis at the other end of the profession, with more experienced teachers shaking their heads as their accumulated knowledge is dismissed as worthless after a lifetime in the job."

Now I am not going to go into the reasons why I think there is a worrying trend in teachers leaving the profession, you only have to read certain tweets or discussion threads. I usually ask teachers on my training what are the two jobs that take most of your time? The response is the same - marking and planning. I then go on to show how technology can be used to save time with these tasks and have more of an impact with children.

I gave the new twitter poll feature a go last weekend asking the question -


@MichaelT1979 has recently written a couple of recent blog posts that discuss the issues on planning and marking which you can read here -



I agree with the points Michael is making here and see that many teachers can get wrapped up in the cycle of paperwork and ultimately can end up with a teacher going through the motions. It is easy to do, I have been there and it can easily zap your enthusiasm and passion from the career you have chosen. To quote Alan Peat - We need to be working smarter, not harder! Technology can really help in this way, but that isn't the focus of this blog post, it is to try and remind teachers to see the bigger picture and remember to cherish those wonderful moments we experience as teachers.

 I recently blogged about my Golden Rule Of Teaching, (click the picture to read it) with the hope that some teachers would be inspired be consider being driven to use their own passions and also allow children to lead the learning in class.

In this blog post, I want to try and remind teachers why they initially chose teaching. No teacher chose teaching to assess or to plan but rather to inspire, to engage and to make a difference. A few years ago, I did some market research looking at the best way to try and engage people to go into teaching. One of the questions was 'What made you choose teaching?' It was a question I stewed on for a while but answered with something along the lines of - I wanted to create memories. I wanted to make memories that would stay with children throughout their whole lives, memories that would influence their choice in career, memories that would show them that anything is possible and memories that would mould them into knowledgeable, positive, considerate people. I recently asked teachers everywhere to share why they chose teaching. They answered on the following padlet wall - 

How often do you reflect on the initial reason why you chose teaching? In the midst of paperwork and pressure, we sometimes need a reminder of the wonderful job we do. I had a reminder just the other week. As I no longer have a classroom and therefore, no stock room, a lot of my things have been stored here and there. Our new caretaker was ready to throw a load of stuff out, luckily he checked with me first. In there was my scrapbook. A scrapbook I had started at the end of my NQT year after receiving this letter from a parent -
This was my go to letter whenever I had a bad day, staff meeting, felt like I wasn't good enough or felt I'd had enough. It has always been a reminder that as long as I try my best, I am making a difference in young people's lives. Since then, the scrapbook has grown with newspaper clippings, letters and cards from children and parents and reminders of memories I have created with children in my class. I sat the other day and looked through everything with the realisation that I have created some amazing memories. It reminded me of all the wonderful children I have had the pleasure of teaching over the years. I couldn't tell you what their levels were and what the value added progress was, they had all made progress, it was the characters, their personality and their smiles that I remember. If learning in the classroom can do this, if it can give children experiences that stay with them, I believe you are doing great! 

For any NQT or student teacher - make a scrapbook to fill with these positive experiences, they will help you stay focused when we have those bad days. Sometimes we need reminded how much of an influence we have. Let's say you start teaching at the age of 25 and retire at 65, with a class of 30 each year, you will teach approximately 1,200 children. You have the opportunity to heavily influence all those children and give them wonderful memories that will last a lifetime. This is the latest addition I need to add, from a girl in my first ever class, that was posted on my facebook page, not so long ago - 



I love John Murray's line when it comes to teaching - "Don't just teach the curriculum, teach the whole child!" Successes in learning come in all shapes and sizes in the classroom, embrace each one, document it and reflect on it whenever you need to. Make sure there is always a point of the day where you smile! Don't forget to smile! That is why I try my best on my facebook page to share funny pictures and short videos to hopefully give teachers that moment to chuckle and laugh. 
If you need a moment of inspiration, here are a couple of videos that I regularly watch and recommend - 



Reading back the letter from the NQT year reminded me of the poem I read at the leaver's assembly that year, also worth sharing, written by Patricia Clafford

I didn't know that years of school and a college degree would be of little
consolation when facing a room full of bright little eyes on the
first day of school. I thought I was ready...
I didn't know that five minutes can seem like five hours when there is
idle time and an eight hour school day far too short for a
well-planned day of teaching.
I didn't know that teaching children was only a fraction of my job.
No one tells you about the conferences and phone calls, faculty meetings, committees, paperwork and paperwork...
I didn't know that it took so long to cut out letters, draw and color pictures,
laminate-all for those bulletin boards that were always "just there"...
I didn't know that I would become such a scavenger, and that teaching
materials would feel like pure gold in my hands...
I didn't know that an administration and co-workers that support
and help you could make such a difference...
I didn't know that there would be children that I loved and cared for
and stayed up late worrying about, who, one day,
would simply not show up.
And that I would never see them again...
I didn't know that I can't always dry little tears and mend broken hearts.
I thought I could always make a difference...
I didn't know that the sound of children's laughter could drown
out the sound of all the world's sadness...
I didn't know that children could feel so profoundly.
A broken heart knows no age.
I didn't know that a single "yes ma'am" from a disrespectful child
or a note in my desk that says "You're the best!" could make me feel like
I'm on top of a mountain and forget the valleys I forged to get there...
I never knew that after one year of teaching I would feel so much
wiser, more tired, sadder and happier, all at once.
And that I would no longer call teaching my job,
but my privilege.

The work can wait while you show the child the rainbow,
but the rainbow won't wait while you do the work. 

I never question the dedication of teachers, we work incredibly hard! If there are ways in which technology can help use work smarter than harder, embrace it! Most teachers are doing their absolute best and so you're doing great! Keep going! You may well have recently seen the incredible gesture from the New Zealand Rugby Player - Sonny Bill Williams (you can read about it here.) This quote from him sums up the message I am trying to get across in this blog post -


Work to the best of your ability, don't compare yourself to others. As long as you can leave school each day knowing you have done your absolute best, trust me.... you're doing great!

Thanks for reading!

If you would like to know more about how Mr P can use technology to work smarter not harder, visit this link.

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