Throughout school I was never a standout kid.
Grade A’s just were not my thing. If you wanted a C, I was your guy!
I’d smash that D/C boundary into next year.
I worked hard, I tried hard but for some reason, I just couldn’t seem to stretch myself to the heights my teachers wanted.
Guess what though, I turned out alright. Got into college, scraped through my A-Levels (literally scraped as well! never really knew how to construct an essay until uni!), got a half decent drinkers degree and muddled my way through life until I found my true calling (i’ll save my long and wonderful journey into teaching for another post – I have my own views on that!!!)
Looking back at my schooling I’ve come to a couple of conclusions.
1: I was given lot’s of information but rarely told what to do with it.
Knowledge is useless without the tools to apply it! – me 2015
2: Whilst I genuinely enjoyed my learning at my school, i was rarely inspired.
3: Some of my teachers were quite frankly useless.
I’ll expand on these points.
1: I can tell you all about the corn laws of the UK(1815 – 1846), can tell you about how Bertolt Brecht brought wonderful political observations to the masses through his Berliner ensemble, Can list all the prominent HACCP‘s when making beans on toast amongst a plethora of other topics. One thing I couldn’t do with this information however was use it constructively. I really sucked at crafting any of these topics into written communication. Sure I was able to list key facts but I hadn’t the faintest idea of how to use them to create a coherent argument.
2: As you can tell from the above point some things really stuck with me (almost 15 years later!!!). Until the last few years I always thought that it was the subjects that inspired me, turns out I was wrong. It was the teachers! Mr Tomlinson (Maths!), Mr Morgan (History), Mr Butler (English) were the ones that really inspired me. They’re the ones that I remember most fondly (Mr Tomlinson’s perma-stubble (of which I now model), Mr Morgans fascinating stories and Mr Butler – the quite scary and hard as nails deputy head – who used to read to us, with ALL the voices!) They had passion and it’s only because of their skill that I’m who I am today!
3: On the complete flip-side some of my teachers were just a bit shit. Some of them were massive shits (more about that later!). I had teachers who didn’t like working with children (not going to name and shame in this section…sorry 😛 ), teachers who were out of their depth in a school and even teachers who were just really really dull.
Now… I like a good story and so I’m going to reveal probably the most lasting memory I have from school. I tell it because I feel it really hammers home one of my personal teaching philosophies that I carry with me (metaphorically speaking of course) in my career.
I can remember everything about it so vividly, I remember the room, the smell, the time of day, Every little detail. I cannot stress enough how well I remember it!
French, last lesson of the day. April of year 11 (2000). I wasn’t a great French student (though I still remember stock phrases!) and was distracted that day because It was cold. Snow was forecast (IN BLOODY APRIL!). My teacher turned to me and said (in as genuine a tone as possible)
Andrew Lyons, You’re going to fail and I’ll be there when you do!
I couldn’t believe it. I just stood there mouth open. Not particularly hurt or angry. Just shocked really that someone would say that… and actually mean it! I thought to myself, is she a Bond villain? bloody hell fire! What an ego!
This memory has stuck with me to this day! I’m still not upset, angry or hurt by it. If anything I’m amused by how audacious and megalomaniacky that woman was but thats my point! I remember this incident more than any actual teaching that went on. It has helped me to realise that EVERYTHING said in a classroom will be witnessed by someone whether you want it to be or not!
So, I’ve waffled quite a bit (as I am want to do!) in this blog so I had better pull some pedagogical point from it all.
Being a teacher is a lot like being an actor in a play, You are at centre stage orchestrating all that is going on around you, you are the one being watched. Don’t be dull, make a show of it! Have fun, be honest, be creative, share your passion but for gods sake people, if you’re going to be a prick, at least be a funny one!
p.s. (I like p.s.’s, really make me feel important!) I normally don’t write unless I feel inspired to do so, so thank you to @tessmaths for being that inspiration tonight 🙂