Friday, 7 March 2008

Classroom Stories

“The pursuit of truth and beauty is a sphere of activity in which we are permitted to remain children all our lives.”

“Teaching should be such that what is offered is perceived as a valuable gift and not as a hard duty.”

Albert Einstein (1879-1955)

Slowly and inextricably, I am coming to terms with what I am about to lose – in truth it has already been taken – that happened 6 months ago and it now seems like a lifetime.

I have been a teacher for almost 30 years and I loved every day of my job. I always knew that I wanted to teach; even before I attended my first school. I consider myself to be a vocational teacher; many people these days work to live but, for me, I live to teach and I had expected to continue teaching until age got the better of me and that retirement would move me on to other opportunities and challenges.

Teaching these days is not easy and all of us need greater support and help with the ever changing demands and requirements of the system; especially the increasing levels of bureaucracy.

In today’s schools, the emphasis is on constant monitoring, observation and attainment records; not solely children but also teachers. In this pressurized environment, it is vital for all teachers to know that they can rely on their head teacher for support (there is no one else !). In return, the head teacher must engender a sense of respect, understanding and appreciation of one another in order to maintain a team of motivated, enthusiastic and confident staff. The head teacher must have the ability to listen and be pro-active in providing support and this role demands someone who is self confident and able to make decisions based on rational judgement and possibly devolving decisions to other staff thereby fostering a sense of trust. Few people have these qualities; I respect the fact that being a head teacher can be onerous and this is reflected in the number of head teacher vacancies.

For me, my children come first and I love to interact with them as they are all such unique and precious individuals and they have such a special and fresh perception of the world.

I have intended to collate a book of the many stories that children have shared with me over the years. One special memory that I recollect was related to me a few years ago by a boy whose grandmother had recently died. Death was very much on his mind and what it meant and he approached me and asked “Do you get poorly when you go to heaven ?” and I replied “No, no one gets ill in heaven.” He looked at me and smiled saying “Oh, that’s good, it’s a long way to heaven and I get travel sick !”