Five weeks into my teacher training course, I’m exhausted. Yeah on the whole I’m having a great time, the people are really cool, and most of the sessions are helpful, but the days are so long (two days this week were 8am-7.30pm) and I’m exhausted. One of the many buzz words we’re frequently exposed to is ‘vision’ – others include leadership, resilience, values, journey, collaboration, growth mindsets, and inclusion – and while we joke about how often the word ‘vision’ is used, it really is SO important to have a driving force behind what you’re doing. If you have no deeper reason for going into teaching except for earning some money, you’ll have nothing to push you to keep going when the going gets tough. So after ‘reflecting’ (that’s another buzz word), here’s my vision…
If I had to pick one reason why I chose to go into teaching, it would be to be a positive male role model to children who don’t have one. (I’ve written about this here and here, so I won’t go into detail again…) But after hearing about Teach First’s vision, that ‘no child’s educational success should be limited by their socio-economic background’, my vision altered to include this, and a major driving force for me now is that as a teacher I will help to bridge the gap between the rich and poor in my classroom through the transformative power of education, giving children from low-income backgrounds the opportunity to have a successful and fulfilling life not held back by limitations that aren’t their fault. How will I do that? By having high expectations for all, regardless of background; allowing no excuses for my children not succeeding; setting work that stretches ALL children and moves them forward (i.e. good planning and ‘differentiation’); and promoting high aspirations in the children for their futures. Furthermore, as a Christian I also believe it’s important to give my children a chance to hear about Jesus and His amazing love for us, and the extent to which I can (and should) do this in school will probably be something I wrestle with over the two-year course and beyond. (Of course, I wanted a teaching job for selfish reasons too, to earn money to support myself and hopefully a family one day, and to feel good about myself for making a positive contribution to the world, but I like to think they’re of secondary importance to these other things!)
Proverbs 22:6 (from the Bible) kind of sums up why I’m doing primary teaching. It says:
‘Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it’. Some would label this as idealistic, and I see their point; even a child with a great start in life may go off the rails later. However, setting them up in the right way makes it much more likely that they will succeed in the future. Children are so impressionable, especially when they are primary school age, and excellent teachers at this stage makes it much more likely that they will succeed later, equipping them with knowledge, skills, and qualities to have a great life and break past limitations imposed on them.
While writing this, I also thought about what values I actually want to model for my children. I want them to have resilience, empathy, selflessness, courage, self-belief, creativity, and a love for learning. I also want them to see that being a man isn’t necessarily about being physically strong or aggressive, and that instead it’s more about having these qualities listed above. Inspiring these qualities in them starts with me, though, so I need to keep developing these qualities in myself if I want my children to have them too.
So if at any point during the next two years and beyond I moan about my massive workload, my lack of sleep and/or social life, or how that one child in my class just won’t behave, pleeease point me back to this blog post. This is why I’m becoming a teacher; I want to make a difference, I want to be the change I want to see, and I want to help change lives. I can’t do it on my own though; I’ll need the support of my family, friends, and most importantly God, the One who gives me strength to succeed, but ultimately I will succeed and I will be the leader/teacher/human I’m meant to be, helping my children become who they’re meant to be in the process.