I have so many conversations with educators who think they aren’t any good. It’s such a sad state of affairs when the system gets so many of its teachers feeling so very low. We all have something to offer. So many of us have amazing practice that takes place in our classroom that we don’t think worthy of sharing.
Our toolkit to support learning in a classroom is often vast. This can be a mix of analogue or digital tools. As we grow and develop as educators over the years, so our toolkit expands as does our expertise and knowledge of when it is the right time to, or not to, use those tools in our toolkit.
Take the use of whiteboard markers and the space in the classroom in which you work. These handy little beauties are fantastically versatile. You don’t have to just use them on the whiteboard. In a PC suite for example you can write on glass-fronted monitors and simply rub it off when done. Why not use them on a tablet screen? Desks prove to be fantastic spaces too. Sam Ashraf wrote just this past week about her ‘graffiti tables‘ in her classroom and the impact it has had for her learners. Why not write on them yourself for your new seating plans or with lesson starters or get students to write their exit tickets on them for you to snap quickly with your tablet camera at the end of the lesson.
All this, just from a lowly whiteboard marker, and I haven’t even mentioned your classroom windows. I’m sure you’ll have your own wins from using them too.
We all have our pockets of excellence. I’m not saying that we don’t need to learn or develop our practice – that journey never ends. I had the real privilege and honour to spend some time with Professor David Hopkins this week and we had a very similar conversation about learning. It never ends and at 66 he still relishes in the fact that he still learns new things every day. Talk about an inspiring chap.
The problem is, many of us, through pressure of graded observations (yes, they are still prevalent and take place every day), ridiculous marking loads, leadership, coursework, school plays, school trips, assemblies, so forth and so on, can often feel like what we do simply isn’t good enough.
Take a deep breath.
You are amazing.
Teaching is a tough gig.
Someone should tell Nicky Morgan again. And again. And then imagine she’s never heard the message and tell her some more.
Who can tell you though? Me saying it as some arbitrary random bloke blogging who probably doesn’t know you, isn’t going to help you much. What I would like to do though is set you a little challenge (as if you’re not busy enough). I hope you don’t mind.
1. Buy yourself a little Moleskine notebook (other notebooks are available)
2. Spend 1 minute a day writing a note in the notebook about something you did which made a difference in your school each day.
That’s it. That’s your challenge.
Oh. Sorry. There’s a part 3.
3. Look at it after one week and smile at the 5 things you’ve done. Look at it after two weeks and smile at the 10 things you’ve done. Look at it after 3 weeks and look at the 15 things… You get the idea?
The cumulative effect of these tiny minutes spent here and there recording your brilliance will have a big effect. I know it does for me, because I feel just as much an imposter as the next person. I do better though by listening to others and by telling it to myself.
Try it. I think you’ll find it works.