An English Teacher's Toolbox

An English teacher at a Secondary School in the UK. * Sharing and questioning the day job. * I teach KS3/4/5.
* Looking for inspiration and motivation, to share with others. * Looking to constantly improve and grow. * On Twitter at @MissBex_M *
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…and already I am tired, grumpy and miserable! Lol. Just demonstrates how demanding and stressful this job really is. Worked non stop every day.

As we approach the new school year, here in the UK, I am revisiting this very important question - why do people want to be teachers?

There are many responses to this. The longer I spend in the profession, the more answers I come up with…and they can sometimes change depending on the time of year!

Trevor Wright (2008) gives many answers to this fundamental question, and many of them I agree with. He also claims that this is a key question to expect at PGCE/ GTP/ Teaching post interviews - one thing that you can expect to be asked and should be ready to answer.

When faced with this question, don’t say ‘It’s what I always dreamed of doing’ … be careful here; until you become a teacher, you really don’t fully comprehend the demands and nuances of the profession, and so your answer suggests you don’t really know what it is you want - rather, you have an idealised view of it all.

Some reasons for wanting to teach, that suggest you’ve thought a little more about your decision to move in this direction, might include some of the following:

  1. To continue to learn.
    This is a reasonable expectation, and one that showcases a desire to continue to develop and learn (a big part of being a teacher is CPD - Continued Professional Development). This also shows you would have the necessary mindset for education itself - the learning doesn’t stop with that QT certificate!
  2. To have a career that is rewarding.
    …and teaching absolutely is! Making progress with children and helping them become independent learners is a huge part of what keeps us all going, through the long weeks of reports, lesson planning and marking. The job really is rewarding, and can give you a great sense of satisfaction. However, always remember there will be times when things are also somewhat challenging!
  3. To share my passion for my subject.
    Great! Fantastic! This is a great starting point - but on it’s own, it won’t be enough. Since starting teaching, I’ve realised that while I was good at English at school, and I did English Language A Level - plus my degree in English Language and Linguistics - none of this has really been relevant to what I teach. I have had to teach myself a lot of what I teach the students; I need to read and analyse the texts before I can think about teaching it as a unit of work (and every text I’ve taught so far has been one I didn’t know previously).
    So, passion for your subject isn’t enough - this reason needs to be combined with other reasons, as well as an interest in the subject of education itself (because that’s something you’ll also be studying).
  4. To be creative and have fun.
    It is a big part of your performance, to make lessons enjoyable and to be creative - allowing students freedom to be independent but to enjoy their learning. It’s tough! But, creative and original approaches to teaching are essential. Yet, being creative alone will not help students learn or progress - careful planning is about knowing what you’re doing, how you’re doing it and why you’re doing it - playing chemical reaction hop scotch is pointless if they don’t need to know anything about it!

Of course, there are many more reasons that you may have for becoming a teacher, but that interview question is an important one. It needs consideration, thought and a little research. So if you’re in the midst of applying/ starting… ask yourself: “Why do you want to be a teacher?”.

An interesting and useful article from @tes:

Like it or loathe it, you are probably going to have to write numerous assignments, essays or studies during your teacher training. So what can you do to minimise the stress…[Read More]

Reading is for awesome people

(via misslokenglish)

My eleventh grade English teacher was a guy named Paul MacAdam. I got a D in the class, and I only got the D because I wrote a paper about Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye over the summer. I was a crap student: I didn’t read; I didn’t participate; I didn’t turn in papers, or when I did, it was embarrassingly obvious I hadn’t read the books. I also skipped class a lot. It was in the morning, and I didn’t think very highly of morning classes.

I actually said that to him once. He took me aside after the bell rang one day and said you’ve been missing a lot of class, and I was like, “Yeah, I don’t think too highly of morning classes.” I was a real peach.

But when I did go to class, I was usually the last person to file into the room. One thing I remember about that class: Mr. MacAdam always held the door open for us until the bell rang. We’d walk in, and he’d greet each of us. He always held the door open until the bell started ringing, and I’d come in last, three seconds before the bell rang, staring at my untied sneakers, stinking of cigarette smoke, and he’d say, “Mr. Green, always a pleasure,” and then he and the class would talk about the book. Say it was Slaughterhouse Five. I hadn’t read it, of course, but they would talk about it, and MacAdam would get to talking about war and the nonlinear nature of time and how Vonnegut had stripped down the language to tell the nakedest of truths.

But the discussion was always so interesting—these big, hot, fun ideas seemed to matter so much. So I read the books. I never read them when I was supposed to read them; I’d read them a week later, after I’d already gotten an F on my reaction paper. But I’d read them. In essence, I was reading great books for fun. MacAdam didn’t know it, of course. He probably still doesn’t know it. But it didn’t matter whether I was worthy of his faith; he kept it. He still held the door open every day for me. He still treated me like I was the smartest kid in the class, still took me seriously on those rare occasions when I’d raise my hand, still listened thoughtfully to me when I’d give him my reading of a passage I could comment upon only because he’d just read it out loud. He believed I was real, that I mattered. I wasn’t yet able to understand that he mattered, but he was okay with that. He just kept holding the door open for me.

John Green, excerpt from his 2008 speech at the Alan Conference (via speciousstuff)

(via mommi22)

At my school’s Teaching and Learning conference, the pupils identified these as priorities.

Very interesting.



You forgot to add parenting

Stop Bullying

(via adannadelrey)