Monday, January 4, 2016

To teach or not to teach...

There's nothing like the need to complete a task, to  trigger an avoidance response, the more urgent the task the greater the response. You suddenly feel motivated to do something else. With my mother it was always cleaning windows, a tactic to avoid social issues or conflict. With me today, its the fact that I should be planning my lesson for tomorrow, suddenly my blog, which has been ignored of late,  becomes  extremely urgent so here I am.

Christmas gone and New Year over we are now back in France and tomorrow I'm due to go into the little village school and teach for an hour. Now its no big deal; I have no curriculum to follow, no targets to meet, no long term planning or grades to make, I'm not paid to do it, a French Ofsted equivalent is not about to turn up and the children are a real delight. Its about that four letter word & its meaning  'Work'!

If I was just helping out, just an aid or  language assistant life would be easier, but as a professional teacher you can't do anything by halves. It must be linked with past learning, develop new vocabulary, incorporate over learning, be differentiated by age & abilities within the class. My goals have to be SMART: specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and timed  and I must evaluate and review. I suppose its only like a solicitor or accountant, a doctor or a professional athlete, it cant be done casually.

Years back, as a student in Liverpool, I shared a house with a woman who was an ex Olympic swimmer and innocently asked if shed like to come to the local pool with me. She agreed and on arrival proceeded to plough up & down the pool at alarming speed & with considerable aggression. I stopped her & suggested we might sit on the pool side for a bit, or dive for a weight or simply hang in the water & chat; as I saw it a fun even social element to the swimming. She looked at me bewildered, "I hit the water every morning a 6am for years, to train for two hours and then again after school, I can't play with it".

Problem is everyone thinks they could be a teacher, we've all been to school, we all know its about being in charge and telling them what to do. That's instruction and has its place; apprenticeship, skills, task led activities but a teacher, has to be aware of the bigger picture & the individual needs, they have to communicate and draw that something special out of the students. Some people have that naturally, its in their psyche/ their very bones and just like that  swimmer they can't play at it.

 So here I am full circle, doing what I love doing it but its work. Then I remember what a good friend and ex colleague once said to me. As a Educational Psychologist she heard me procrastinating & bemoaning my  avoidance strategies and stopped me. "Its not avoidance she stated, its displacement therapy". So there you have it, I have a therapy...I feel a lot better. And just incidentally, I have a new blog,  this one, which your just read.
Enough said Pauline 'Do the lesson plan!"