(from Paul’s blog – http://mrcampbell91.wordpress.com/)
The holidays over the past few weeks did consist of manic assignment writing and thinking about how my Primary 7s and I are going to set up the ‘Rainforest Protection Agency’, but I had a good week off at least. It was filled with coffees, parties, dinners, family events… all for my twin sister who was moving to Australia on Wednesday this week!
So, there was a lot going through my head, then I sat down at my desk, and looked at this…
I was thinking a few things…
1. I’ve accumulated some amount of crap if this is the stuff that can’t fit into my cupboard.
2. How fast have these 4 years of studying to become a primary teacher flown in. 4 years ago today, I was in 5th year at secondary, studying for my higher prelims, and now I’m one placement away from being a primary school teacher.
3. How do I feel competent, and have a careful confidence in my practice, after what could be described as a relatively short period of time?
4. Where am I going? Where do I want to be? When? Will I be teaching in Scotland after the probationary year? Do I want to teach in Scotland after the probationary year? Is that even important just now?
It’s amazing what a sibling moving continent and a messy working space can make you reflect on.
But seriously, it made me think about my commitment to lifelong learning – way off on a tangent. I hated school; I hated a lot of my teachers, which is why I wanted to be one. The teachers I got on great with, inspired me and have influenced so much of the professional I have become and hope to continue to develop as. The teachers who I had bad experiences with have influenced me as a professional just as much – they taught me exactly what makes a bad teacher, and taught me that there is so much more to teaching than ‘teaching’.
The social context to our role, the relationships we build, and the ‘corporate caring’ (as the S. Government like to refer to it as) that we need to show has to be the starting point to whatever we do. For me, it is the caring aspect to our role that comes first. Acting upon this effectively, we can facilitate an ethos and environment conducive to learning, nurturing and support, and it is in such an environment that children can learn, grow and develop.
What has been at the core of really reflecting on these experiences and the continual process of growing as (hopefully) a caring, sufficiently knowledgeable and empathetic teacher is the time I’ve had in teacher education, the theory and research which underpins practice (a relationship that has never been more evident to me than in the past year) and the change that happens constantly all around me.
It makes me think about the relatively quick progression and development that happens over four short years, and what progress could be made over the next four years. Will I be teaching Primary 7 or Primary 1? Will I be living in Scotland or Australia? Will I have a tidier workspace, or will it be just as crammed? One thing I do know is, I will still love working with children as much as I do now, I will still be as committed as I am now, and I will still be ignoring everyone that says to me, ‘After a few years in the job, that enthusiasm will be knocked right out of you.’ For people that think that, I have no problem proving you wrong
It makes me also realise that my concept of children as learners and what I think education should be has grown and developed over time and influences my practice to an inexplicable extent. I know that this will continue to grow, change and develop just as everything does – but I do thinking the underpinning principles and philosophies of my attitudes, beliefs and practice will remain with me.
I do know, that when I sit down on my first day with my first class on Wednesday 15th August this year, I will want to make sure that the children in my care know that I value them as personally important; to know that I’m not the source of all knowledge and wisdom, and know that we’ll learn just as much from each other, as we will together. And I hope, that with sticking with these ideas and principles, regardless of the class I might have, or the school or country I may end up teaching in, I can offer the best experiences for the children and young people in my care.
I read a teacher’s comment recently that was referring someone to a student teacher group, saying, ‘Be sure to speak to them if you want to collaborate with some developing teachers’. I know that regardless of where I am or the role I’m in in 4, 8, 12, or 16 years, I won’t stop considering myself as a developing teacher, and I’ll be hoping that the children who are in the care of a teacher who doesn’t consider themselves as developing, don’t have too bad a time!
We cannot underestimate the power and influence a teacher can have in children and young people’s lives, an influence that if had been even slightly different, could have changed my path entirely. This is why I like the words of W.B. Yeats so much…
‘Had I the heavens’ embroidered cloths,
Enwrought with golden and silver light,
The blue and the dim and the dark cloths
Of night and light and the half light,
I would spread the cloths under your feet:
But I, being poor, have only my dreams;
I have spread my dreams under your feet;
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.’
Interpret it as you like!