How have you changed as an educator since you first started?
Slowly, imperceptibly, I have moved from being a young, wet-behind-the-ears pedagogue to being a slightly more careworn middle-aged one.
I started in 1999, the memory of my own schooling having left a far deeper impression of the teacher I wanted to become than had my Nottingham PGCE. Back then I was a misty-eyed idealist. Having had a private education myself I had plans to work in the state sector and change the world. But things didn't turn out like that. I fell back into the private school world by accepting a job at Warwick School. This, it turned out, was a fantastic place to start but it trapped me in the private sector. Periodically I've toyed with the idea of 'going mainstream' and have even put one or two job applications in, but it's always the same story: I am a pariah in the eyes of state school selection panels and they never even deign to give me a response. If there is an educational apartheid in this country, prejudice is far worse from state to private than it is from private to state.
So how have I changed?
- I'm more aware now than I was then of the impact of home situations on learners' progress. For me (and all of my friends, so far as I recall) it had been plain sailing. We worked hard, played hard and enjoyed happy home lives. Not so with many of today's children. Affluent neglect is rife and the poisonous effects of marital break-up are everywhere to see. It's not all doom and gloom, for sure, but I am more wary than I once was. I sometimes wonder whether the trend towards having counsellors in school has actually exacerbated the problem by giving children permission to feel hard done by. Psyco-social problems are almost celebrated in some quarters whereas in the past children would have stiffened their lips and soldiered on.
- I started off teaching very didactically. This was the style I had loved myself whilst at school. But as fashions have changed, so I have altered my style. I think a lot more now than I used to about delivery. Back when I started I was often only a page or so in front of the kids so content was king. I sometimes wonder whether I've lost something in this transition.
- I am much more relaxed around pupils than I used to be. When you are only a year or to older than your charges there is a temptation to behave like a young fogey to draw attention to your altered status as a teacher. I have nothing particular to prove now. Even in the eyes of the U6th I'm impossibly old; our worlds do not overlap. I can be myself, I feel comfortable in my skin and enjoy my job.