In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “We Can Be Taught!.”
What makes a great teacher? I was, a grade 1 ‘outstanding’ tutor of post 16 education for a number of years. Does this make me a great teacher? No. I could play a very good game for 50 minutes. Did it enhance my teaching? No, if anything it took away from my ‘greatness’. Did the observation and grade make an ounce of difference to my students or the perception they had of me? No. So what does make a great teacher?
After 13 years of teaching. I would quite easily answer this question with a bullet pointed list.
• Listening – how many teachers listen? I leant all about my students by listening and observing, I may even go further to say I cared!
• Addressing the students by name – in the over populated classrooms in England some students are overlooked. I always felt it was important to address each student by their name from the day they enquired about my courses. After all, without them I had no job. They needed to know they mattered.
• congruence. I would always work along side the students. I would do the collage, painting, printing. I didn’t dish out orders, I was involved. I demonstrated and let them make their own learning by being part of it.
Will I be remembered for my Grade 1 ‘outstanding’ by OFSTED? I doubt it. From what my student say to me even months after I left the ‘rat race’ of teaching is that I was someone who ‘cared’ to me. That is the best teacher of all xxx
I love learning. I love seeing what else can be done. I am learning that there is so much more to this digital world and that I can sometimes become baffled with terms, jargon and technology that quite often, I can be paralysed.
So where do I start?
Since I started venturing into the creative world from the rat race I have quite often taken the lead from others who I deem to be successful.
I have been honoured to feature in blogs by such people and for my work to be ‘shared’ between Facebook friends.
Recently I have been asked to run workshops within two different environments. I see this as shoots sprouting from the seeds I have laid down over the last months where my posts have been few. I have secured a part time job which gives me a sense of accomplishment and also gives me be luxury of time to pursue my dreams.
It has given me security to know that I can afford to sow seeds in areas that may be unfamiliar. I can try new things and learn new methods without the fear of not ‘making it’.
The first few months of being self employed I cast my net far. I threw caution to the wind and tried many things. In pulling the net closer at the end of the year, I could see how successful my catch was. What stayed and what needed to be discarded. What needed to be shelved and what needed to be nurtured further.
In doing so I could then concentrate on what have me the greatest pleasure. Quite often it has very little to do with monetary gain, but more about what stayed true to myself. My vision, my core values but most of all that fed my creativity.
Today I have learnt that it’s not all about asking it’s about giving. It’s not all about selling but engaging with the people who spend time ‘following’ or ‘connecting’ with you. Today I have learnt that it is time to give back! I am open to learning all I can. Xx
Following yesterday’s post, I’ve tried today to live in the now and I’ve had a lovely day. Apart from the odd phone call about possible work I’ve managed to stay in the present without worrying about the next pay cheque or opportunity of work.
I suppose that’s the only downside to escaping the rat race. No longer do I look forward to the 22nd of the month when I could breathe a sigh of relief that money was coming in and when I had the luxury to buy what I wanted without thinking.
Don’t get me wrong, I want for nothing. I am not destitute and I am in a fortunate position, but it’s a insecurity that is years old.
When you’ve worked to build a career and the wage that rewards the effort, I have found it difficult to go from that, to waiting to receive a call asking you to work. The answer? Make my own work!
As a self employed artist, it’s about finding a problem to solve that would form a regular income. I’ve also got to consider the ‘impulse buyers’ and have pieces of work that are affordable. I’ve read in a book that someone has made a living writing a blog and travelling. Wow! If I didn’t have such self doubt I’m sure I could do that! Hahahahahahaha
Anyway about the ‘now’. I want for nothing, I have shelter, food, warmth, love and security and I am enjoying the freedom of not being involved directly in the rat race. I’m allowing myself the gift of time to build a career around what I love but also what I believe I am good at.
I went into teaching to change people’s lives, to make a difference. I know I did that in the years I worked within FE.
However over the last 7 years the students I worked with changed my life and perspective. They helped me to become more loving, compassionate and more supportive to the ‘underdogs’. The ones that no one wanted to work with, but those I found I had a natural ability to work alongside.
In those 7 years I became the best teacher I could’ve been. I was ‘outstanding’ according to OFSTED and I saw miracles in the lovely students I worked with, so why, you may ask, did I leave?
Because I could no longer protect them. I could no longer assure them that they would be ok and that no one could hurt them in my care. Systems were put in place that meant that I couldn’t create the haven that they craved nor keep the wolves from them. I felt powerless.
I was often told to keep my emotions out of the role, but how could I? When you are working with the most vulnerable how do you keep robotic, lifeless or unattached?
As an artist I am emotional, I feel, I see and observe many things. I feel pain with other people and cry alongside the strongest of characters. I also feel tremendous joy when I know the battles that people have overcome to gain qualifications or achievements that they thought they would never get!
I am me and, although I am far from perfect, I can’t and won’t change the person I am to fit into any one else scheme anymore. I will not force a square peg into a round hole just to please others. I have to be true to me.
Of course I miss the money, the security and excitement of the 22nd of each month, but what I miss, I gain in the new adventures and connections I am making whilst I’m making this transition from rat race into creativity!
I am open minded and willing to learn. Any comments or suggestions on how to grow my little business would be greatly appreciated xx
Thanks for reading x
“Art is unquestionably one of the purest and highest elements in human happiness. It trains the mind through the eye, and the eye through the mind. As the sun colors flowers, so does art color life.” ― John Lubbock, The Pleasures of Life
Tonight I’ve been thinking about the notion of learning for learning sake. On spending time with friends this evening I looked back at the last few months of my development and realised that I have learnt for learning’s sake rather than to acquire an accolade or qualification.
I have always considered myself the underdog. The youngest of five and the one who had siblings to compare myself against. For many years I chased not to be the ‘beautiful mistake’ and it was quite clear than my artistic side was just mine. It wasn’t shared by my siblings but a gift just for me.
This gift was ignited and encouraged by my wonderful Aunty who delighted in the creativity of children. Was this where I got my passion for teaching?
I always wanted to be as good as my siblings…. It was only February this year that I realised that I only undertook any form of learning to be the best at whatever it was I was doing. I craved the status that qualifications gave me and the letters after my name were often used as a weapon against my doubters.
I realised in February, that I am enough and that just recently, after completing another qualification in teaching, that I had done enough to be all that I have ever really wanted to be. I love teaching and I love art. I love making a difference to people’s lives through helping them to develop skills and belief in themselves through art.
Someone asked me tonight what my blog was about, I answered that it was about escaping the rat race into creativity. So what has this got to do with the subject?
The rat race, as I call it, focused on the results, attainment and retention of students and as a tutor I focused on the difference in the students from the start of the course to the end. I looked at how they had learnt to handle themselves better and communicate in a manner that was acceptable. I focused on the shaping of the beautiful diamonds that left my classroom regardless of their grades or percentage of attendance.
I was constantly told ‘take emotion out of it’ but how can you when all your life’s goals have been to make a difference? The two different viewpoints did not mix and I needed to escape.
I have seen miracles in my classes and I will forever have their names imprinted on my heart. I do not take the credit. I just work with the gift I have been given. Art has been the teacher in my classes. The patience learnt when studying a still life, the emotions learnt through expressive typography, the teamwork and communication whilst building a 3D tower, the self discipline learnt when working in teams and the silence learnt when listening to others.
These are the gifts I can pass on to others, These are the skills that were past on to me. Today I learn for learning’s sake. I no longer feel the need to compare myself to my siblings or prove my worth. I have a gift that is only mine and I’m happy that that gift is the gift of creativity.