During our last academic training day I had the pleasure of spending the morning with our access, English and maths teams with a request from the LSL to share with the group my approach to lesson planning.
The first session was going fantastically well, thanks to four colleagues who were sharing some excellent practice they had recently come across during some training and all participants in the room were actively involved in trying out this practice or engaging in conversations regards how it could be tweaked or adapted to be most effective within their own practice. As I observed from a far and eavesdropped into the various conversations, I was struck by just how much people were engaging with the activities and the quality of the conversations taking place.
As my time to collect the baton from my four colleagues grew closer, I decided to go slightly ‘off piste’ and build upon the positive momentum gained from the first part of the session and I asked people to reflect upon their reasons for becoming a teacher. The reasons were very similar and typical answers were “to help people”; “to provide people with the support I never got” or “to make a difference”. Following this period of reflection we watched a YouTube clip with Stephen Hawkins (see below) discussing the impact that his maths teacher Mr Tahta had on him. Prof Hawking said that “behind every exceptional person, there is an exceptional teacher” and that “Thanks to Mr Tahta, I became a professor of mathematics at Cambridge, a position once held by Isaac Newton”. As I observed our colleagues watching this profound clip, it was clear that it resonated deep down with all of them and that ultimately we all want to be somebody’s ‘Mr Tahta’, we want to be the one that our students remember due to the positive impact WE have had on them.
I found myself becoming more and more passionate as I implored everyone in the room to hold on to their reasons for becoming a teacher and that despite a bad lesson or a bad week, it is ultimately the times when we genuinely feel we have helped our students and made a real difference that keep us coming back.
I will finish this post with the same words that I left the group with; a quote that is pinned up on my board at work and that has been a constant source of inspiration for me, to remind me of why I signed up for this job in the first place and why I continue to want to do this job…
“Education is, at least, the endeavour to get people to do things they could not previously do. To understand things they did not previously understand, and, perhaps, to become people they did not expect to become” (Sockett, 1998, 195)