If you have been reading my articles about teaching, you will know that after five years in leadership I decided to return to my first love – teaching. It is fascinating being a classroom teacher now and I am very different to how I used to be. With the wealth of experience that I have gained from my various positions over the last twenty years I am able to put on different lenses and consider a variety of perspectives in any given situation and I feel so lucky that I am able to do that.
The other day I was messaged by a teacher who wanted to know what to do about a decision her SLT had made that could significantly impact on her workload and wellbeing. Five years ago, I would have said – challenge them and demand responses. Now my response was this: ‘It is a tricky one. Whilst I don’t like it, the SLT must have sound reason behind why they are doing it. What I would do is complete it as they wish for a week and then be honest with my feedback about how it is working. I would encourage others to do that too so SLT gain a true picture of how it is working in a practical way.’ Not being in the classroom day-in, day-out means that some ideas that Senior Leadership Teams have can be impractical. However, this distance can also enable them to think outside the box and come up with ingenious ideas. As a class teacher, I need to just give their ideas a go and feedback honestly afterwards. Saying no from the get-go means that changes never occur, and these changes may well be for the better.
Recently, I was introduced to a new programme that I thought would never work but applied my strategy of ‘give it a go’ to it and was astounded that I was wrong. Yes, I was wrong! What I thought was sheer lunacy was actually and is actually a great programme that will help the children I teach. As I have got older, I am convinced that I have become more teachable and more able to say – I don’t know. The other day I was asked a question by a new teacher and I wanted to blag an answer. I paused, considered and then said – I really don’t know. Why? Because I didn’t. Did the teacher look at me aghast – no, not at all? I asked them to ask others and let me know when they found an answer – that way they won’t be ill-informed by me and I will learn from them.
”Saying no from the get-go means that changes never occur, and these changes may well be for the better.
I have definitely become more real as a class teacher too. I am not trying to pretend to be anything that I truly believe that my authenticity will help the children that I teach. On the first day, I said to my class that they could ask me anything they wanted to.
“What is your first name?”
“Toria, but you call me Mrs Bono – you can all say Toria now though if you want to see how the word feels and sounds.”
“What age are you?”
“What was the worst day of your life?”
“You can’t ask her that…”
“The day my dad died”
“My grandad has just died – it makes me sad to think about it.”
“I feel sad when I think about my dad dying.” You can imagine that many children chimed in about those they loved dying and then we moved on to chocolate.
I don’t know if I would have answered like this when I was younger, but nowadays I feel able to. I am an authentic educator and believe that due to this my children and colleagues get the very best of me.
So that is my journey to where I am now! I shall remain a class-teacher but am excited that I was appointed as an Evidence Lead Educator for a local research school in July and commence that this term. This is a new and exciting venture for me and one in which I truly hope I will learn so much more about teaching and learning. My teaching journey has been jagged but has brought me so much joy. If you are starting on your journey, please get in touch and good luck. If you are a middle leader or senior leader then good luck in these straight times and remember I am only a message away.
Join a global discussion
Following what has been a difficult year in the teaching profession, educators are now returning to an environment where they must adapt to meet a new set of circumstances. Teachers play a huge role in the pandemic response and recovery, but what does that involve?
Take part in the Global School Alliance Virtual Education Conference.
Thursday 17th September 2020, 4-6pm BST.