I spend twelve years at school and I have to say that I never really had a teacher who set me alight as a student.
Sad isn’t it when you think that I went on to be a teacher myself for the next thirty-nine years.
However my own schooling and I was fortunate in that I could read and write and I loved research so I tended to find out a lot of stuff for myself. My schoolteachers gave me the basics in most things and pointed me towards certain texts to read. But I could never say any of them inspired me in any other way than to not be like them.
The inspiring teachers were the ones I worked with. The brilliant men and women who had such a passion for teaching, and who passed on so much of their knowledge and expertise to me.
I was a Drama and English teacher in state high schools. I had always loved English, even though it took me three goes to pass the spelling test at teacher college I managed to get through that training and embark on a career that was to take me to some wonderful schools, allowed me to stand in front of many students far smarter than me and allowed me to achieve things not many teachers did.
The older I get and the more I reflect on my career, the more I realise how different I was to most teachers. I was never satisfied with just doing my job. I worked with so many teachers who came in each day did the same thing year in year out and left brain dead at the end of it.
I was fortunate to be able to reinvent myself over the years. I began as an English/History teacher. I started in a small country school before moving to he city where it was very much out of the frying pan and into the fire.
I was always interested in drama, I wrote plays and musicals and when Drama became a subject for the senior school I embraced it fully.
Did I have the tables turned on me by students?
Often. My last nineteen years were spent in an academic school teaching kids far brighter than me and often being taught by them. I realised they had a lot to offer me and as my attitude is to always be open to learning, I did so most days.
The secret to being a good teacher is this:
* Know your stuff, whatever your subject area have a good idea what its all about. If you get caught out not knowing, always say so; never pretend to know something you don’t, kids will see through you in no time.
* Establish relationships with your students. The Teacher Student relationship is crucial if learning is to take place. I found talking to them worked a whole lot better than talking at them. Show an interest in them, get to know them as best you can in the limited time you have with them.
* Despite the rigors of teaching and the demands on your sanity try at all times to maintain your sense of humour. I was lucky to work in a school where the kids got the joke. They had a sense of humour; it made life enjoyable most days.
What did I do better than anyone else? My humility makes this a hard one to answer.
But I would say I gave students during all my years something to remember school by. Not everyone has a good experience in school. For a whole bunch of reasons but I made an effort to give most kids I taught something to remember about school that was good. Taking country kids on a six day camping trip, writing and producing musicals and plays, showing so many of them as a human being I cared about them.
As far as my inner toddler is concerned:
Why is that so?