Don’t Believe the Hype – why I need to be a better teacher

I’ve always been my greatest and most fierce critic, which, I think, has allowed me the freedom to blog on my everyday practice. That knowledge does, however, make reflection somewhat difficult; New Year’s Resolutions have never been my strong point. For I have to confess, as I approach the fourth anniversary of starting my blog, confidence in my own ability has taken a step backwards this year. Not sure why. Perhaps when you blog and receive some very complimentary feedback on your writing, you begin to believe your own hype. Closer self-inspection often brings that crashing down.

On the face of it I’ve achieved a lot this year. I was invited to speak at researchEd in York and duly presented my take on the progress of curricular changes in Scotland. I think it went well but for the day I was overwhelmed with ‘Imposter Syndrome’. Merely speaking about what I thought I knew confirmed how little I knew. I returned to my first love and organised a Pedagoo event at Strathclyde Uni. Same syndrome applies. Only when you attempt to introduce change do you realise the scale of the challenge in education. And it is hugely intimidating.

I continued with my Masters studies this year and also began to see more of my writing being published, both creative and educational. It never ceases to amaze me when I see my name in real print but I’ve never let it go to my head. Just having a voice doesn’t mean it is an necessarily important one. It merely highlights to me the scarcity of teacher voices out there. The whole raison d’etre of Pedagoo was to get more teachers involved in the conversation and while we continue to do that, it’s frustrating to think that we’ve still only created a small ripple in the pool.

However, despite all this, as  teachers we  should only ever be judged on what we do in the classroom on a day to day basis. The rest is merely window dressing. I’m not convinced I’ve been as effective this year as I have been previously. I’m not sure why that is. Perhaps distracted by outside influences. Perhaps I’m ready to leave the classroom and move on to other things. But I try never to forget that I am first and foremost an English teacher who teaches children. When that is not going as well as I’d like I have very little right to pretend I am some sort of leader of learning. This needs to be where my resolution lies.

I have no idea what 2015 will hold for me – can any of us really ever know? I know I will continue to write because it gives me great pleasure. I will continue to volunteer to present and speak at educational events if anyone will have me. I will continue to try and engage more teachers in research and discussion of their practice. But, and far more importantly, I will spend more time trying to be a better teacher of English. That is what I am paid to do. And we should all spend our time trying to be better than yesterday.

3 thoughts on “Don’t Believe the Hype – why I need to be a better teacher

  1. Pingback: #Nurture 1415 posts all in one place | A Roller In The Ocean

  2. Pingback: Don’t Believe the Hype – why I need to be a better teacher | The Echo Chamber

  3. Kenny: Reading this made me feel a bit sad!

    It’s good to have high standards, to keep learning and setting yourself challenging (but still achievable, with effort!) targets. But I think it’s also important to give yourself credit for what you’ve accomplished and not to be too harsh a judge of yourself, or of others.

    You write so well – I certainly feel I’ve learnt from what you’ve written this year (and am sorry I didn’t get chance to hear you in York). I can tell from what you’ve talked about in your blogs (eg how you made the most of the opportunity presented by the referendum in your teaching) that you’re a reflective, conscientious practitioner. And you clearly care hugely about students you teach now, or have taught in the past. I think they (and those still to come!) are fortunate.

    So enjoy what remains of the Christmas break, and go into 2015 knowing you have made a difference (certainly to me! And I’m sure I speak for many) and will continue to do so as you keep blogging and teaching.

    Happy New Year!

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