A Classroom Career – Something to be Proud of

There is absolutely nothing wrong with wanting a career in the classroom.

There shouldn’t be the pressure to fall into a leadership slipstream or feel inadequate as colleagues overtake you in the outside lane to responsibility and accountability. Slow and steady, thoughtful and reflective teaching is a great path in and of itself and can make a significant difference to children and builds a fulfilling career that we can be proud of. The perceived determinacy of a clear route through ‘standards’ followed perhaps by a ‘path to leadership’ shouldn’t be foisted on everyone as it can marginalise some with alternate aspirations. Pressure is performative as Taubman (2009) notes;

‘the rhetoric of blame and fear and the promulgation of heroic narratives of exemplary teachers, which, coupled with the wide-spread use of tests, render teachers and teacher educators susceptible to the language of policy and the lure of business practices …”

There should be no requirement for a PR juggernaut of self-promotion, timed tweets talking things into existence or coordinated blogs or social-media espousals with colleagues to extol the virtues of what you do. Loving your craft, loving your subject, supporting your students and exploring practice needs no huge fanfare. After all, not everyone wants or needs a pedistal to be seen, heard and appreciated.

We shouldn’t need the backing of politicians or bloggers, support of research pumped out by thinktanks or have written a book to be doing a good job. Nor do we need to be flying drones, rolling some ball-like device around the floor, behave like a pirate, ascribe digital badges for behaviour or jump into some chat to be connected, have original thoughts or a view that isn’t going to be picked up by others and crush us into submission and change our mind with some epiphany.

We don’t need to be fully conversant in a particular field of research or evidence to be informed, at least by some popular definitions in educational discussions. BUT, do engage with research and keep an open mind about your assumptions regarding practice. Just because we don’t hit the taxonomic heights of some edujargon or scream passion, it doesn’t render us or our views meaningless.

Teaching is very complex. The multiple functions, forms and facets of our practice shouldn’t be redacted into narrow judgements or inspectorial slights. Being empathetic, humble, attentive to student needs and building purposeful working relationships cannot be measured. In a time of impatience and rush to justify every action and reaction in our classrooms and schools, taking time to appreciate the immense privilege is important. The stories and experiences that walk into our classrooms each and every day (yours included) can’t be retrofitted into some equation or formula. It’s more complex than that. That’s why staying in the classroom, being patient, watching, listening, supporting others, continually learning and developing a craft is absolutely fine.

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