6 Myths of teaching: explained and uncovered

1. ‘Those who can’t, teach’

‘…and those who can’t teach, teach primary!’

The above line being a famous quote from the very funny British Christmas film ‘Nativity!’. This is a well used phrase and many see it as a joke without thinking about what they are actually saying. I must admit that myself and many other colleagues showed this film to our classes at the end of the Autumn term as a special Christmas treat. We didn’t think twice about the connotations of the quote, but what kind of impression of teachers is this giving off?

It takes a great deal of skill to teach, as you are combining your specialist subject knowledge (or all subjects in the case of primary teaching) with the ability to teach children. 

2. School finishes at 3:15 so the teachers get to go home

3. Teachers get their summers off

I will not delve into detail on the above two statements. I feel these are well covered amongst social media, but still deserve some extra attention. Whenever I see a teacher post something connected to the above two statements on social media, there is always backlash from one of their ‘friends’ or ‘connections’; either disagreeing or complaining that teachers are always complaining about these factors. This then makes some teachers too embarrassed to discuss these issues. 

4. Teachers are all the same

This statement creates the idea that teachers are replaceable units functioning in the same way. Yes we all follow the same teaching standards, but we don’t operate like robots. Each teacher adds their own strength and character to their teaching to make it a more memberable experience for the children. Unfortunately, due to many teachers leaving the profession and hundreds of students being enticed with healthy monetar grants to train as a teacher, we are giving teaching a dispensable reputation. 

5. Teachers just reuse and recycle old lessons 

This used to be the case and was definitely noticeable if you had two siblings in the same school. Two years later your younger brother would be carrying out exactly the same art project of painting sunflowers as you did. Or at secondary school your older sister lent you her English coursework on ‘Of Mice and Men’ as it was exactly the same title. 

Due to constant curriculum changes and changes in the personality and ability of our students, teachers are always (or should be) tailoring their plans to the needs of their current children. Recycling lessons like this is old fashioned and does give some teachers a bad name.

On the contrary, I think it is really nice to see certain projects repeated in a school each year. This is because they build up excitement for the children in younger years and it is something to look forward to. 

6. Teachers know the answer to anything you ask them

No they don’t.

The great thing about teaching is that you can learn with your students. I find that children are more engaged in learning when you are learning together (even if you are just pretending you didn’t know something!). Some parents and students expect teachers to have the answer to any academic question and if they don’t, they start to worry about their child’s education. Teachers are as much learners and facilitators as they are anything else. They inspire the children to discover just as much as they share with the children.

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No more looking over my shoulder

As I pull up into the high street, my mind is clear and I only have my shopping to focus on. I walk down the street with my head held high and look ahead to see which shops tickle my fancy. A passer-by looks my way and smiles and I feel no reason to avoid the small talk. 

This is what shopping or being in a public place feels like now that I have left teaching. It sounds like such a simple experience but it is one which I appreciate now more than ever. 

Five months ago I would have experienced the same situation in a much different way. I would have pulled up to the shops with a lingering feeling of dread that I would bump into a colleague or a pupil and their parents. It is not that I didn’t like my colleagues or pupils’ families, it was the memories or guilt that seeing them provoked. I was instantly back at work as I saw them and that didn’t take much of a push, as I could never escape teaching thoughts at the best of times. It would remind me of the books I had to mark when I returned home or the planning I should be doing OR the research into innovative lessons that I should be doing to aid my planning. I would have a feeling of embarrassment as it was a chance for the parents to see me close up and I knew they would think I looked tired and weak. For this reason I was always looking over my shoulder in fear and not forward in a positive way. 

That’s the thing with teaching, you can’t help but look over your shoulder at the past and reflect on how lessons could have been better or reading into what a coworker said (was that a dig at me? Did they just undermine me?). Teaching should be about looking forward and doing what is best for the children’s future, but teachers are left with such little time for this. 

I now love seeing the children I tutor with their families at the weekend and enjoy engaging in conversation with them, like I would any other aquaintance. I have time to look forward and think about what is best for the child, as well as embracing in the present. It is such a shame but it reassures me that I made the right decision. 

5 months on…

So here I am, five months since leaving the teaching profession and I feel human and more than great. 

I haven’t managed to write a post for a while by the looks of things, but time has flown by.  Writing my posts enabled me to release my experiences and emotions of teaching, which I had no time to do when I was actually teaching. The difference that sharing these experiences has had on me has been more than I imagined and I am no longer weighed down by them. A friend of mine recently asked me why I left my previous school and I struggled to immediately think of all those niggly anecdotes that drowned me previously. It wasn’t until I was driving home that day that I started to remember some of the bad things. Living my life without hundreds of stressful ordeals constantly running around my head has made me feel lighter and whole.

I now am left with the happy memories of teaching, the ones that made the job worth it. Becoming a tutor has enabled me to continue these memories without any negative connotations. I take pride in promoting a love of learning, leading to increased confidence in the classroom. I ensure that my work supports the children in the classroom and doesn’t contradict or hinder it. I still get to cherish those breakthrough moments when a child makes the smallest but very worthwhile achievement. My life now involves a work life balance and dread free Sundays. 

The 17 Faces of Teaching

Teachers are often easy to spot outside of the school environment, as they are limited to the same conversations, accidentally use their ‘teacher voice’ and lack recent social experience. However, once inside a school the many personas of teaching start to appear…

How many of these teacher types can you spot in your staffroom? Or not in the case of number 7!
1. Miss Hoarder: “Are you finished with that yoghurt? That’ll be a great glue pot!” 
Miss Hoarder starts off with resourceful intentions, but soon she has too much ‘that might come in handy one day’ junk to move in her own home.
  
2. Mr Old Fashioned Way: His motto is ‘that’s the way it’s always been done’. He is blind to change, new research methods and doesn’t see the problem with his hand written plans from 30 years ago when Mumbai was still called Bombay.
  
3. Mrs Brown Nose: The name says it all really and will guarantee at least one brown noser in every school. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to genuinely please your boss, but we should discourage teacher’s pets in this day and age.
4. Mr PE Kit: He is always in his PE kit! Look how comfy and relaxed he must feel. You wish you had the guts to wear yours all day, but it just feels like skiving. 
  
5. Mrs Climbing Up The Pecking Order: She was your friend, shared the same views…until one day she was given an opportunity she couldn’t refuse and now she speaks down to you. You feel betrayed and have to carefully think about what you say to her.
6. Ms. Ex Banker : Changed her career as there was less need for her in financial services and moved to a job where she could be in demand. Probably moved to teaching for the wrong reasons and definitely didn’t get that work-life balance they were after.
7. Mr Hermit: Determined to get the job done and won’t let anything stand in his way. Mr Hermit lives in his classroom, you won’t see him unless he needs the toilet or a refreshment. Some Mr Hermits have their own kettle in their rooms so depending on the strength of their bladder, you may never see them! He leaves early, determined for a work-life balance. Good lad.
  
8. Miss Lives At School: Her car is there when you arrive and it’s still there when you leave. People start to wonder if she really has a home to go to. 
9. Mrs Silence: Children should be seen and not heard in her classroom. Even other adults feel scared to speak.
10. Mr Realist: He is a great teacher but understands that the job can never be fully complete. Doesn’t say much in staff meetings as he knows it won’t make a difference. Most Mr. Realists end up leaving the profession.
11. Mrs Panic: You know if you ask her to do one more thing she will have a mental breakdown. You see her squirm and shake her head in staff meetings, overwhelmed by her to do list. People avoid asking her to do things as they don’t want to be responsible for her buckaroo.
12. Mrs Backstabber: We all know one of these. They pretend they are on your side and then go running to the boss. These are in no means restricted to the teaching profession. 
  
13. Miss Lovely: Everything is just lovely and wonderful in Miss Lovely’s eyes. Nothing seems to get her down and everybody secretly envies this. She is great at rubbing her happiness off on you, except on those bad days, where her happiness is just completely irritating and sickening. 
  
14. Mr Change: Every time you see him he has something new for the school to adopt. You admire his ambition but it’s just too much.
15. Mrs Anti-Change: She hates Mr Change. Things should stay the same.
16. Mrs Buns In The Oven: She is ALWAYS pregnant! We envy her maternity pay but not her weak bladder.
17. Miss Caffeine: Whatever you do, do not talk to her before she’s had her morning coffee.
  
This is by no means an exhaustive list of the many different personalities we see in the staffroom. You may find that teachers have several alter-egos. How many can you spot at work tomorrow?

Share your blogs below!!

Orthodoxsunflower

My last sharing post was a big success, I found many great blogs and many of you got great traffic from it! So it’s time for another one! Please post your blog address below so we can visit you and check out the others too, you might find some great ones and make some new friends too!

Please reblog this so your followers can come and add theirs too! Looking forward to seeing you!

Rebecca

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Sunday blues are a thing of the past

Everybody either has, or knows somebody, blessed with the famous Sunday night blues, but with teaching, the entirety of Sunday (sometimes the whole weekend!) feels that way. 

Teachers wake up on a Sunday morning, having all but three seconds of peace before they start to think. After those few seconds of freedom, the panic starts and the stress resumes. They will start creating a to-do list in their heads, probably continuing on from the mental list they created before managing to fall asleep the night before. 

There are two main types of overworked weekend teachers;

1. The teacher who cannot relax at the weekend until everything is done

This type of teacher knows that if they can complete everything on their list, they can do whatever they want afterwards. Unfortunately, they will often find that the list never gets completed and they haven’t had any time for themselves or their family. This teacher is highly motivated to get the job done, so is determined to try this tactic every weekend, failing inevitably every time. Sometimes, the list will be completed to an acceptable standard with a few items that can be transferred to another list (you can never have enough lists!) and you are left with a Sunday afternoon. Sunday afternoon? Great now the evening blues kick in and the last minute panic of reading plans and checking your memory stick is safe can begin.

2. The teacher determined for a social life and destined for Sunday panics

There is little difference in the amount of work that these two types of teachers complete, but it can leave them in slightly different mental states. Type two strives for a Saturday all to themselves or their family and doesn’t think about work all day (I salute you if this is you). They then leave everything for a short space of time and get very stressed completing the work in the meantime. Neither type is a desirable trait of being a teacher, type 1 will often have constant feelings of anxiety and type 2 will have intense bursts of stress. Which would you prefer?

This shouldn’t have to be a choice and some teachers can cope without working at the weekends but this is a significant minority and are often the ones who work through their lunchtimes, breaks and stay late in the week.

Having left the teaching profession, I see a whole new side to Sundays, a Sunday is 24 hours long, just like any other day of the week. It is a great day to cook, go for a walk, lounge in front of Netflix and even domestic chores don’t seem like such a rushed burden anymore. At the moment I am loving Sundays 🙂

Dear Prime Minister….from teachers everywhere.

blondegeography

Dear Prime Minister,

Firstly let me introduce myself, I represent the many – the many teachers who today are worrying about the future of education. I am a newly qualified teacher. I come from a council house background. I have a 2:2 in my degree…and I’m probably not good enough in your eyes to be a teacher.

Mr. Cameron, you only have to glance at Twitter or Facebook and you will see thousands of teachers who today are afraid. Afraid of the future of education. Surely you must be thinking to yourself why? Why are so many teachers today afraid of what the future may hold? I can tell you some reasons why.

Gove. I hear he won awards for his teaching! No? I hear he was a real expert on education! No? But yet you trusted him to make a whole host of changes without really knowing what’s going…

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It’s tough being the ‘family of a teacher’

We hear a lot about how teachers have a hard time, which is very true, but little attention is given to the relatives of those who teach.

Just like a teacher is always being ‘a teacher’ when they are out and about in their supposedly spare time, so are those who are close to teachers. The boyfriends/partners/wives of teachers are subject to many positive and negative teaching related aspects of life. 

On a positive note, our friends and family are able to get creative at home, go on special trips and enjoy the masses of chocolate and wine at Christmas. They can become our ‘props’ or our extra pairs of hands. They enjoy our annecdotes and funny stories and pass them on to their friends. 

It is hard for our friends and family to escape the fact that we are teachers. We use our ‘teacher voice’ on them too much as it’s hard for us to switch off. They are always there to listen to our many problems and moans on how unfair the system is. They do so well not to let our negativity rub off on them. They never say no to a late night shop to buy items for weighing, laminating pouches, ink or sweets. They will spend evenings in front of the telly cutting around various items for us. 

Then there’s the children of teachers. Aside from the benefit of having their parents around in the school holiday, being the child of a teacher can be quite lonely. They have to arrive at school early on some days and stay late on others. I’ve had teachers who are parents say to me ‘ I look forward to my children going to sleep at night so I can start work’. They don’t mean this in a nasty way but there is no other way around it.

Thank you to all the support from our friends and family, we do appreciate you, even though we may not have a spare moment to say it!

Teaching isn’t just affecting teachers, it affects those who are close to them. 

Are tutors a help or hinderance? 

‘My tutor said to do it this way’, ‘my tutor says that is wrong’ and notes on homework from childrens’ tutors are something teachers experience quite a lot. This all leads to difficult situations for teachers, leading us to debate their existence.

There are 2 main types of tutor. This isn’t to say that all tutors fall into one of these two categories, I’m sure there are a lot of inbetweeners. 

Tutor types:

  1. The old-fashioned way: this tutor will teach children the ‘this is how its always been’ methods. 
  2. The thoughtful tutor: this tutor will take into account what the children are doing in school and how.

The first type can initially be seen by parents to achieve the greatest results. This will be because this tutor teaches the learn-by-rote methods which children learn off by heart. Children can pick these up easily and if they remember the method they will get questions right to begin with. Then questions turn into word problems which really test the childrens’ understanding and these children cannot correlate the word problem to the off by heart method. This is hard for teachers in schools as in some ways these children can be too far ahead as they are using shorthand methods. On the other hand, these children lack understanding and it is hard to bring them back to that. 

The second type is rare in my experience and children often do completely different things with their tutor. These tutors are a blessing and they will help the teacher and support the learning (as long as they don’t do exactly the same thing and lead to ‘I know this already’ situations). If parents make the decision to have their child tutored, some level of connection between teacher and tutor would be ideal. This shouldn’t create extra work for the teacher, if it does then it isn’t right. Tutors can easily find out what children are learning about these days as all schools have to put plans online and children themselves from a certain age should be able to relay this information to tutors.

As I now return to tutoring in the evenings I aim to be tutor type number two. I will connect what is being done in class and help with any problems. I will also identify gaps in learning from previous years and help to fill these in. Having recently heard about an ‘amazing tutor’ who makes children carry out an assessment to see if children are ‘tutor worthy’ or not I was shocked. This tutor was highly regarded because of their good results, no wonder if she was being selective.