Friday Period 7 – A worthwhile job

Twitter, blogs and some newspaper articles are failing to balance the good things about the job of a teacher as well as the pressures, and I think I’ve done that in my blog too, so this post is to remind me and others what a great job it can be.

This time of the year I seem to be at various events where I come across ex pupils, including some such as parents (who I once taught) of our new Year 7. It’s also a time when emails drop in from those graduating with news of degrees, of firsts, of jobs and “please can you do a reference?”If I had a facebook account I might keep up better but I might never get any work done.

Friday evening and I had an invite to a party – not really me after an exhausting week but out I went. It was to celebrate a local company achieving over 10 years of business, and it’s run by a former pupil. I went with a few other colleagues and could not have anticipated such an uplifting evening, not least the gratitude which greeted us just for being there. During the evening several others ex pupil peers were there and I caught up with their activity but they just wanted to talk about school days, for some almost 20 years ago. Another little generation appeared through a connection and off we went again as they enquired about teachers, reminisced about their time. Spookily it was almost a self assessment reflection : what I did well, what I could have done better, what I am working on….

I was interested that they were still looking for some approval too but it was genuinely lovely to see them, to hear about their families, their work and their lives, and of other ex-pupils too To hear they made business decisions seriously influenced by the ethos we tried to share, was quite significant too. I recently had contact with two others now involved in the media, they still call me Sir, they still laugh about the funny moments and they have a huge pride in their school, oh and they pull my leg. I’m not naive, there will be many ex-pupils not in touch, who hated me, hated school and may or may not have been successful, I might never know, but what I do know is those I bump into remind me of why I do the job I love, even those whose life took them in a different direction.  Oh and I do know it’s not all down to school, schools are complex places, so too are people, the influence of family and friends and their own integrity are often much more important, but we play a part.

Two other ex students are both involved in teaching and they wanted to reminisce but they also wanted to pick brains, each other’s and mine. How sweet I actually thought, you still want to hear my ideas, my thinking, I would have thought you had more than enough of that – not so!

So fellow teachers and especially those starting in the job, or going on as NQT’s or moving into the early years of the job, my post is a bit of an antidote to the Guardian’s “Secret teacher” oft complaining ( sometimes rightly) of the job. Sure there are issues, battles, problems, massive frustrations, stuff out of our control BUT the job is about education – educare “lead out” and meeting older pupils after Uni or after a period of work or after parenthood and seeing them having blossomed and fond of their old school (and their old teachers) does make for a reminder that the job is worthwhile.

My two ex pupils are now in education ( trainer and teacher)  both had sat in A Level Chemistry with me, I can recall both as clear as if it were last week, the marking of their coursework and the stuff they did which annoyed me, and getting them to listen, dragging stuff from them as we always do (don’t we?) feedback and probably a hundred other things I did whilst teaching them hey they are so worthwhile. We often say we look for pupils to ‘fulfil potential’, we have all handed out results at KS4 or KS5 which have seen the pupils dream from Y7 come true ( even when it felt a very long way off in Y7) and to see them now…..well it made sitting down to that work then seem all the more worthwhile, and spurs me on to the next tasks I have to do too.

So the purpose was to remind me and you, reader, what a great job teaching is. Oh I know this is all anecdotal there is plenty more to notice:

  • pupils who manage to learn
  • pupils who progress and achieve
  • pupils who turn things around
  • pupils who take responsibility on
  • pupils uninterested in a subject becoming fascinated or curious
  • pupils who discover and exploit talent
  • colleagues who make ideas work……my list could go on but it’s Friday 7: forget school and enjoy a beer. Except that…..school, well it just never really goes away.

Some questions to ponder

Q1 What are the long term rewards of the job?

Q2 Do we share the better aspects, the philosophical reasons why we do this every day, to encourage the next generation of teachers?

Q3 Give me a child until they are seven……and I will give you the (man) adult. Discuss!

For those of us in a church school

Luke 6:40

The student is not above the teacher, but everyone who is fully trained will be like their teacher.

Ecclesiastes 7:27

“Look,” says the Teacher, “this is what I have discovered: “Adding one thing to another to discover the scheme of things

Proverbs 3:1

[ Wisdom Bestows Well-Being ] My son, do not forget my teaching, but keep my commands in your heart,

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