Teaching Highlights

Last week I read a lovely blog post by @cazzypot (see here)on twitter, it made me think about past experiences. I’ve only been teaching for six years but I already have some memorable moments in teaching. A few days later I read another post by @cherrylkd (see here) where she also reflected on her teaching highlights. Following @cazzypot post @ICTEvangelist came up with the idea of #teachinghighlight. So here are some of mine, I hope you will join in and share yours.

My first year of teaching was like for many a mixture of trial and error. Some classes were a pleasure to teach whilst others were stomach churning. What it all boiled down to in the end was behaviour. I knew my subject matter inside out and back to front and I had the resources, detailed lesson plans, scheme of work and a shiny new folder to keep them in, sorted! What I didn’t have yet was a clear grasp on ways to handle specific behaviours from students who had been a challenge for quite some time. Enter my first experience of a student who enjoyed disrupting lessons by throwing things, getting up and rummaging in cupboards, trying to be menacing with scissors and so on. At first I had my ‘if Ofsted came into the room’ head, so I challenged the behaviour book like fashion and when no joy sought out senior management to intervene. This went on for several weeks. It was exhausting, frustrating and quite frankly nearly had me give up on teaching. Then I thought ‘stuff Ofsted’ and did what I felt was the right thing to do in dealing with the behaviour of this specific student. Rightly or wrongly I chose to ignore the negative behaviour and praise the positive. In addition to this I encouraged the other students in the class to ignore the student when she was trying to be disruptive. Suddenly the student started being less disruptive and started coming to me at the end of lessons asking for help on work. She also opened up about why she behaved the way she did, but that’s a story for another day.

I’ve had and hope to continue to have many more teaching highlights. However I’d like to mention briefly one more. One of my students who had severe dyslexia and like so many of our students was dealing with the transition from child to adulthood (with a few family issues thrown in). She was falling behind with assignments, not meeting minimum target grades and attendance was sporadic. It took several months of encouragement and praise to drag her out of the ‘I’m thick and I may as well quit’ stage. I’m pleased to say she completed the course and got her UCAS points to go onto university. Just a few months ago I bumped into her and she had just graduated at a local university. She thanked me for believing in her and for the support I gave her.

It is these moments that help us as teachers to not lose faith in our profession and reminds us of what is really important. It can be dealing with a students behaviour to seeing a student succeed. In the end it’s the progress you see in your students that counts, whether it’s controlling their own emotions to exceeding their targets.