This may well be my last post of the year and, as I’m writing it on Christmas Eve, it sort of lends itself to a degree of reflection. In a year of great personal development for me in a educational sense, I’ve been contemplating my own role in education. I’m employed as a classroom teacher; the lure of middle management or beyond has never tempted me. However, I’m becoming more and more aware of my responsibility as a leader of educational change in other roles. The 2010 Donaldson Report, Teaching Scotland’s Future, claims that ‘all teachers should see themselves as teacher educators and be trained in mentoring.’ So how does this fit with my current position and what can I do about it?
It seems to me that whenever I open my mouth about education, whenever I tweet about education, whenever I blog about education, I’m attempting to influence a debate. For many years I have been a mentor of student teachers. I attempt to influence them in more specific ways. My blog is a purely personal reflection but it would be naive of me to think that what I say doesn’t affect even one person’s opinion, either positively or negatively. And, so, whether I like it or not, I am a leader of learning. Even as an effective classroom teacher, I need to be constantly aware of that.
This year I started a Masters programme, specifically a module on Supporting Teacher Learning. It has been eye-opening in many ways. Access to educational academia has often been humbling; my thoughts and opinions on certain things have been, rightly, dismissed as nonsense. On the other hand, I have been provided with the opportunity to develop others ideas, especially about how teachers develop, and firm up some preconceived notions I had. Three months in, I am more confident about expressing my beliefs, knowing that they are more embedded in theory as well as practice. Perhaps I am beginning to take myself a bit more seriously too.
On the First of January my blog will be three years old. It has taken on many guises over those years; naively optimistic to cynically crowd-pleasing to what it is today; something of which I’m extremely proud. And it has taken this long for me to see the true value in it. I flesh out thoughts and opinions, explain classroom processes and strategies, whine about my mistakes. However, what I also have come to realise is that when people read it, they read it because they choose to and so what I say has value to them. As a blogger, and not a hugely significant one, I need to bear that responsibility. This is not a boorish staff room; it is an audience of people who choose to listen because they want to hear what I have to say.
I called this post ‘Game Changers’ because, if I’m to take Donaldson at his word, that is exactly what we should all be. It is not enough to express half thought through opinions and not be willing to back them up. We need to hold our heads up, having developed our points, and to argue our case without it becoming personal. This is not about Twitter or Blogging or Teachmeet or anything specific. It as about stepping up to the plate and taking responsibility for our views. There is too much at stake, both South and North of the border, not to. An intelligent and informed population is what we strive for when we enter teaching. Our educators, our ‘Game Changers’ should reflect that too.