I started teaching in 1996 after completing my BA (Hons) and PGCE in Lancaster, S. martin’s College. I loved my four years at uni by the Lake District and felt ready to take on the world with my utopian view and idealism.
I got my first job in Birmingham and was excited to share my knowledge with the fresh faced Brummie children, who would obviously love me and my particular take on English Literature and communication skills.
It is nearly 20 years since that first year, but I remember it, it is etched onto my long term memory vividly; I had one class with three ‘characters’ Hayley, Paul and Alan. I have to be honest, these students taught me more about how to handle a class and behaviour management than any CPD or observation. They were more critical than OFSTED and every lesson became as daunting as being observed by your HoD. The combination of these three individuals reduced me to tears on a regular basis and I remember being mopped up by other teachers and my HoD, who tried to support and give advice on how to proceed. Nothing helped. I had a healthy dislike for them, almost as much as I have a regard for them now. I nagged them to complete class work, homework was out of the question. I battled to get them to sit on a chair, rather than stand on the desk; I bribed and persuaded them to listen rather than talk…I could paint a graphic tale that many of you would understand, if you have worked fresh faced in an inner city educational establishment.
I have met children since who have tried to match these trailblazers, but they come up short. I have resources my current year 7,8,9,10 and 11 know nothing about. Even when they are trying their hardest, they never come close. It was almost as if I was vaccinated in my earliest years and have been hardened and immune to attempted onslaughts ever since. I am able to advise my newer colleagues, passing on my wisdom, gained from my three mentors right at the very beginning. I can empathise and I can predict what will happen if I take a group down a particular avenue of learning or enquiry. It has honed my sixth sense and made me more confident.
So, a at this generous time of year, I extend my thanks to the three students who, without whom, would mean I’m a lesser teacher than I currently am. I would like to thank them, and I’m sure if I ever met them in town I would be able to say hello…after all it’s been nearly 20 years. Thank you Hayley, Paul and Alan.