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Working through the acronym (2) Education

January 6, 2010

Education, self evidently, is about Teaching and Learning, and as a teacher for all my  life, I’ve surely discovered that when you teach you also learn.

There is no template to successful teaching; there couldn’t be, not if you are going to meet the needs of different pupils in different situations, and if you are going to use your personality as part of the mix.

There are, however, according to my experience, some givens:

There needs to be a mutual respect between teachers and pupils, and that respect needs to be earned; each child is an individual with his or her own life, history, issues and character. For any teaching and learning to be meaningful or effective, a teacher has to be constantly aware of this and to act on it.

There needs to be a willingness to listen – on the part of both parties; adults are frighteningly good at either not listening or not hearing what young people say.

A sense of humour is basic, especially when it punctures any chance of taking yourself too seriously. Pupils warm to teachers who can laugh, which is , of course, not the same as wanting to be taught by an entertainer.

Liking children, and the job, is also a prerequisite for success, but, like parenting, that means setting boundaries and having high expectations.

Professionalism, at all times, is the least your pupils are owed.

Praise and support – for pupils and  colleagues is crucial. Education is vitally important and therefore hard to do right. Pupils or teachers who get it right will have invested a lot into their effort; that should be recognised as an encouragement to keep on getting it right. It’s not patronising, it’s recognising.

Use your seniority to operate through wisdom, not to exercise power. There is nothing sadder than a middle aged adult with a university degree talking about how a class ‘aren’t going to beat me’. We are the adults, we have the knowledge, we have the maturity. We need to use it.

Always leave yourself, and the pupil, an exit from confrontation. Shout rarely and only with good reason; feign anger if you need to, but never genuinely lose it.

Never confuse humanity with weakness or bullying with control – THINK!

In your teaching – BE INTERESTING; if you’re bored, how do you think your pupils feel?

“Come to the edge,”  he said.

They said: “We are afraid”

“Come to the edge”

They came.

He pushed them, and they flew.


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