Staffroom Secrets - an unconventional story
My route into teaching was not conventional, but it wasn't as bonkers as my big brother's: he ran away from home and joined the circus! Meanwhile, I stayed at home and established my own theatre in education company. I produced specialist children's productions with scripts crafted such that every child had an equal role to play, and they learned about (for example) WW2 or the Victorians. Adrian (my brother) went from the circus to becoming the CEO of a huge educational trust and a CBE, which proves that all sorts of people become teachers..!
Eventually, I became hungry to have a greater and sustained impact on the children I taught (instead of visiting for a week, once a year), and so I took myself off to adult education classes and began the journey towards getting my degree and ultimately my QTS (qualified teacher status). What struck me more than anything in those early years of being in the classroom was twofold: if parents weren't actively engaged in their child's education, the children were at a massive disadvantage; when I 'played' in class, the children learned so much more. I wasted no time in reaching out to parents, to get them as involved as possible - they were grateful for the invitation, and that's why I've extended it to you...
As teachers, we are observed against the 'Teaching Standards'. In one of my earliest observations (as a trainee), this is what was noted:
TS1 (1) Jane is an outstandingly motivating and inspiring teacher, consistently using innovative ways to stimulate and enthuse. She integrates drama into her lessons in a way not often observed.
TS2 (1) Jane is now de facto the class teacher for this class so is fully and consistently accountable for pupil progress and outcomes. She encourages a responsible and conscientious attitude to work, especially emphasising creativity and independence.
TS3 (1) Jane consistently teaches exceptionally well and, although still a trainee teacher herself, would be a good model for more experienced practitioners to observe, especially for her ability to foster and maintain pupil interest and enthusiasm.
TS4 (1) Jane uses lesson time extremely imaginatively and consistently promotes a love of learning, actively designing engaging curriculum delivery. She is highly reflective and able to judge the effectiveness of her own teaching.
TS5 (2) Jane completely understands all the possible causes of low attainment and her teaching style is perfectly suited to motivating the majority of low achievers.
TS7 (1) Remarkably good at consistently maintaining high levels of excited enthusiasm alongside a properly focused learning atmosphere.
All of that was, of course, lovely to hear, but I hadn't realised how unusual it was to be a 'playful' teacher - I just did it instinctively because I'd taught since I was about 17, and I knew from experience that fun paid off. I'd seen that rhyme and rhythm helped lodge information into little brains. Crucially, I knew that to make a class work, I had to focus (above all else) on crafting an environment where everyone was valued and truly felt they belonged. And THAT IS THE KEY - that is what unlocks potential. That is why YOU are your child's best teacher. You VALUE your children more than any teacher ever could, and their sense of BELONGING when with you is unrivalled. YOU have superpowers & I'm going to give you the staffroom secrets to wield them!