Opening and Closing Doors

December 24, 2008 § 1 Comment

I scheduled this post for one year after it was written? Has much changed?

Surprisingly, aged 33, I am about to embark on my first significant career change. All my previous decisions focused on accepting educational opportunities rather than purposeful career changes. It would be neglectful of me not to consider and reflect on what I have learnt during my employment at Tauntons College, predominantly teaching, but also managing and coaching. To reinforce the positive experiences, review the mistakes I made in an effort to benefit the new students and colleagues I will be working with and for at Hamble School.

Notable for me, there have been four significant learning opportunities;

  1. Through simply observing experienced practitioners teach or manage.
  2. Second, professional learning that took places as a result of my teaching mistakes or errors in judgment.
  3. Solicit feedback from our students, consider it and act upon it.
  4. What I learnt for myself.

Set as few rules as possible but enforce them consistently as possible (1).

Give quality time to students. Listen more than lead the conversation (1,3,4).

Written communication between student and staff can be very powerful (4).

Occasionally support students without them knowing you were the teachers that helped. An educational secret Santa so to speak.(4)

Discipline does not always work best when it is immediate, identify the misdemeanor, outline that the student will be sanctioned. Wait. (1. Howard Tear)

Not all expert teaching requires technology, in fact most requires very little technology but a very skilled teacher (1).

Do not do for a student, what they can do for themselves (2,4).

Challenge the students. The student, who is never required to do what he cannot do, never does what he can (2,3).

You can not accept every philanthropic challenge presented to you as a teacher. Be thoughtful as to those you accept. Ensure that it is the student that succeeds and not you, the teacher (1,2,3).

Complete few things, but very well (1).

Learning is not a spectator sport (3,4).

Rather than teaching, provide conditions in which the students can learn (1).

Let students teach. It’s demonstrates what has been learnt, its supports the development of others students and most importantly it allows students to recognise your craft (1,3).

It is not what you tell your student that counts. It is what they hear. More importantly, what they act upon (1,4).

Only make new mistakes (4).

Tell students regularly that intelligence and success is a learnt ability, not an innate ability. Develop a “growth mind-set.

Know what kind of teacher you are, and what kind of teacher you want to be (4).

As a Manager it is a little more difficult. To date the list is a little short. I would like to try and keep it that way.

  1. Hire the best staff. This is not a ‘chance’ process.
  2. Make the difficult decisions, decisively.
  3. It is better to be seen than it is to be heard.
  4. Learn from the staff in the Department and the school.
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