The BETT Show 2016 featuring UKFEchat’s ‘Staying motivated’

Several months ago I was approached by Sarah Simons (founder and ‘matron’ of UKFEchat) and asked if I would participate in a discussion panel for the 2016 BETT Show. Obviously I said yes without any hesitation. This was going to be the first time Further Education was being represented at this famous event.

I have been fortunate to be able to contribute to all three UKFEchat eBooks, and it was the second one (Staying Motivated) BETT wished us to discuss at the event. Despite them giving us the ‘graveyard shift’ (5pm to 6pm) on that mild January afternoon it did not matter to us. The fact that we had the recognition of being of interest was enough. Slowly our merry UKFEchat band are being acknowledged as maybe having something worth saying, and more importantly worth listening to.

The four questions asked to David Patterson, Nicky Hawkins, Patrice Miller and myself were as follows –

  1. What are the biggest barriers to staying motivated for FE and skills professionals
  2. How do you give yourself a motivational kick up the rear?
  3. What are the most successful strategies to unite and energise a team which has lost its enthusiasm?
  4. How do you combat a case of the CBA (can’t be arsed) for students?

Some of my responses were –

  1. Limited time due to so much of it being spent on retention and achievement, which causes far more administration work. In turn this impacts on quality time spent on teaching and learning, which means the opportunities to develop classroom resources are put to the ‘back burner’. Also the humble Lecturer 1 role is becoming more demanding.
  2. Chatting to other teachers on Twitter, especially UKFEchat can help motivate you and you can get great teaching advice and ideas too. The students when they have those ‘lightbulb moments’, staff room banter and the realisation that if I did any other job I would be bored to tears.
  3. Cakes, biscuits, my sweet drawer. CPD that is decided and done by us, not imposed on us. Emails, face to face talks from SLT team on how well we are doing and actually remembering to thank us for going above and beyond when covering staff sickness and having last minute tasks thrown at us for the sake of precious data crunching…
  4. Humour rather than raging red faces and finger wagging, class competitiveness and maybe a few sweets.

What I personally took away from this event is that the twenty or so crowd (next year it will double I’m sure!) of FE professionals all clearly felt the same way. In that I mean the small things help keep us motivated, and that being part of a supportive staff team is vital for survival in the world of teaching. Not everyone is in a supportive team and that is where things can really pull you down.

So a message to SLT, check your staff rooms!