Who looks after the teachers?


During my time tweeting I have seen many people responding to questions around their top resources – what couldn’t you live without!?! My latest reply to @Mr_P_Hillips acknowledged my need for the @ELMOEurope visualiser, the @descriptosaurus by Alison Wilcox and bad jokes by yours truly.

descriptosaurus     elmo_l12i_bild_1    36dbd98b2d45933eafaff75c7519cc5593628f8dcd68c00907a8fe0f518ab965.jpg


Taking the time to consider this and watching various responses filter through made me consider:

What could I not have managed without during my first year!?!?

During your first year so much information and advice is thrown at you from all angles it can be difficult to decipher the great from the good… The useful from the rubbish… The quick fix from the thing that will  make a lasting impact on your practice. After deliberation it came to me, not what… but who?!?

Parents are (on the whole) a vital part of your growing up, guiding you, supporting you and helping you through tough times. As is the case for many, I am the first of my name to enter the teaching profession – for the first time in my life my parents could not actually help me.

Apart from my mum turning up at my flat on Sunday’s during my first term, I’d be up to my eyes in plans and success criteria and she’d have Tupperware containers full of food and some clean shirts, a warm smile and put the kettle on – that was a HUGE help.

Instead of our biological parents many of us turn to a school friend/mentor/ person of experience. I was fortunate to have two such people: Momma Snooks and Nana Joyce. Although Joyce wasn’t a fan of being referred to as my school Nan initially she referred to me as grandson by the end of the year!

Whilst I was fortunate to be placed (Teach First route) in a school full of supportive teachers and incredible role models (@primarypercival @joyGBdeli @ljn1982 )it was my school mum and nan that helped me to cut through the cr*p and work out what was and wasn’t important during my first year in the classroom.

Teaching is like spinning plates. You get your planning plate spinning, then your behaviour management plate, then your marking plate, your personal life plate appears to be spinning well and then BOOM – your Christmas report plate needs balancing! As you turn you see your planning plate wobbling and your personal life plate has smashed on the floor.

Momma Snooks, November 2011.

The advice that went with this analogy was simple: There are some plates that are easy to piece back together, there are others that can’t afford to wobble – you decide which plates are important to you. This has stayed with me, it’s fair to say I have more plates now, some spin by themselves but others still need regular attention and always will.

In contrast the support Nana Joyce provided was quite different, she didn’t take any messing from anyone, she was abrupt yet kind and she sought improvement through challenge!

“I’ll tell *insert SLT member’s name as appropriate* you watch!”

Nana Joyce, weekly 2011.

If I’d done something badly, she’d tell me… She’d also give me a number of different ways to approach the lesson/situation differently in the future. What I enjoyed most was never ever feeling patronised or belittled, don’t misunderstand me, I wasn’t quite sure if she actually thought I had what it took to become a good teacher but that was a different matter, she was prepared to give me everything she had in order to start me on the right track.

Grandson, can I tell you something (*make no mistake I was being told anyway*)!? When I saw you all smart in your suit in September you looked like a rabbit in the headlights – I gave you until October … Posh boy won’t make it here. Well, good on you. You’ve got it! You’ll do well, you will.

Nana Joyce, Easter 2012.

I don’t recall my response … I remember being bewildered, wondering what is ‘it’? Now, having supported other trainees it is fair to say I have a better idea of ‘it’ but I am no closer to explaining this to anyone else. If anyone has created an explanation for this label I would love to know more!

Why am I sharing this?!?

I hope somewhere Momma Snooks & Nana Joyce, be it the originals or someone else’s equivalents are reading this knowing that they were appreciated and that their time, support and care made a HUGE impact and that their advice is still relevant and useful, now more than ever during this teaching recruitment crisis.

Who looked after you? Do they know how much you appreciated it?



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