When I woke up this morning and reflected on the year I realised that not a week has gone by where some form of negative press surrounding teaching has been churned out by various media outlets.
Teaching in the current day and age seems to be littered with headlines about inappropriate work-life balance, budget cuts and restraints, the impending doom of Ofsted inspections, Ofsted gradings, social mobility issues, recruitment and retention crisis headlines like this, teacher pay; the list is seemingly endless. None of these paints the profession in a particularly positive light so it’s no wonder people second guess coming into our profession.
Ten years a teacher and I still believe it is a fantastically rewarding career choice, in fact, I’d go so far as to say that it’s getting more rewarding by the minute. Now you may read this and it resonates, or you may read it and think I’m totally mad and it’s anything but rewarding. This is where I’d like to tell you why I feel I’m right and not just banding about some ideological viewpoint. There has never been a richer time to be a teacher.
When I first began teacher training and throughout my NQT year there were very few courses and I don’t remember there being many, if any, conferences. All CPD was done ‘in-house’ and to go on an external course or even off site was pretty rare. The notion of coaching and mentoring was fairly good, however in reality, this was because I was fortunate enough to start my career in a school which placed this at its heart and the teaching staff were all in it together, many of my friends were not lucky enough to be in this situation in their schools. I know not everyone is fortunate enough to be in this position when they start, however development of self and others seems to be more commonplace in schools now. There is a developing wealth of literature out there on coaching so teachers and leaders are now more aware of what good coaching looks like and put it into practice. Coupling this with the pervading culture amongst teachers being that of improvement and moving away from grading and towards an ongoing dialogue of development; as a profession we are developing a wider skill set than ever which can only be a good thing. There are also conferences, such as Unlocking Potential by Leadership Matters which focus on coaching and leadership in an educational context, which, importantly are lead by educators. This is just one example of many developmental opportunities out there, there are now too many to list in this post, but it further evidences that there’s a multitude of training options now available which we can cherry pick according to our own personal needs, that of our team or our school. There has never been a richer time to be an educator.
It has never been easier to find your tribe in teaching. Thanks to Twitter, regular weekly chats such as #NewToSLT #SLTchat #iPadED #edtechchat #asechat #PrimaryRocks #AppleEDUchat #BookCreator #TeamEnglish #ukedchat #UKpastoralchat and #WomenEd provide a platform for learning and sharing. These are just a few of the vast number of weekly chats that take place, you can see a more comprehensive list of chats here or alternatively just search for the relevant hashtag(s) on Twitter or Google. People are more than happy to share views, ideas, seek/give advice or share resources; collaboration has never been easier! I wish that when I was training I had access to the rich wealth of material that is available to trainees and NQTs now, such as The Profession from The Chartered College of Teaching. You can sign up to The Profession, a teaching and learning guide for early-career teachers, for free here. Thanks to developments like this, there has never been a richer time to become a teacher.
What a time to be a pupil too! Teachers are becoming more and more informed and equipped with a wider array of pedagogical tools along with developing our understanding of metacognitive science, as this permeates through the profession this will have a hugely positive impact on our pupils. The work and research that is being conducted, which is readily accessible, from the Education Endowment Foundation, Huntington Research, CollectivEd and The Chartered College of Teaching makes access to quality research and professional development easier than ever. Coupled with the growing movement of research informed events run by teachers, such as ResearchEd, makes us better informed and more effective as teachers. For these reasons, there has never been a better time to be a teacher or a learner.
More and more teachers are collaborating, sharing their experiences and resources which can only be a good thing. It’s never been easier to take your own learning and development into your own hands. The breadth and depth of educational books, podcasts and blogs now being written certainly adds to the equation too. Not only is it easier to gain an insight into collective experience, develop knowledge and tap into the expertise of others the knock on effect is that you can access professional development from a wider array of sources from anywhere in the world thanks to advancements in technology. Thanks to being connected and sharing as a collective there has never been a richer time to be a teacher.
So as the summer holidays draws ever closer, ignore the headlines and focus on all the positives that are developing across the profession. Teaching is the best job in the world so find your tribe, cultivate your own skills and those of your pupils, learn, laugh and have fun along the way; there’s never been a richer or more rewarding time to be a teacher!