I’ve flippantly declared over the years that at many a fork in the road, I have felt a pull towards doing teacher training. Maybe it’s in my genes, coming from a long line of teachers and head teachers, with so many of my prior generation working in education and social care. Or, perhaps it has always appealed to do something truly giving back to the next generation; chasing a dream of a vocation, and big ideas of being everyone’s favourite teacher.
In reality , the retraining, the hours, the pay and the bad press saw me repeatedly put the idea to bed and stick to what I know best, the corporate world of healthcare and pharmaceuticals.
But in 2020, I got to dabble for real in a little bit of role play, as Mrs G, Year Three and Reception teacher, in a combined class in which project management for pharmaceuticals is going on whilst the class ‘gets on with work quietly’.
So what exactly have I learnt in my three months playing teacher?
- I am not a teacher. I am REALLY not a teacher. Knowing how to do something is one thing, but explaining how to do something to a child, that is a whole other level of sorcery.
- I have erased my primary education from my memory. I kind of remember the column method, but when put to the test I just could not get my answers to match the answers I double checked on my iphone calculator. Quite embarrassing really.
- Attention is limited. Theirs, definitely. Also mine. Any plans to boss the school work out of the park on a Monday for the week were scuppered on week one. It’s definitely a little and often kind of affair.
- Early Years really is all about play. Whilst Tigs has been working through projects and worksheets, the Mouse has barely had any learning which doesn’t involve making it into a game, a song, or something which can be coloured in.
- No learning happens under stress. We have regularly reached the point we all need to step away and go for a walk, have a bit of telly time or just a little cry. And that’s just me. One things for sure and that when emotions are running high, ain’t no learning happenning.
- The school day flies by. One monent it’s Joe Wickes O’clock, and the next it’s tea time. I swear home school hours are on a totally alternate time continuum, which is totally the reason we never get half the stuff done we intended to.
- Have a routine, but don’t sweat it. Back in the good old days of week 1, 2 and 3 of lockdown, we had our routine up on the whiteboard, ready as a reference. It helped us get our minds in the right place, but ultimately, you could bet your bottom dollar that just when you managed to get the kids engaged in task A, you realise you’re twenty minutes into task B. The sooner we realised to let it go, the more relaxed the whole affair felt.
- Bribery is everything. Ultimately, when it comes to the most painstaking lessons, a good bit of bribery works a treat. In our house Maths = Roblox. I like to think of it as reward and recognition.
- Find the fun. Some of the home learning set has been D R Y as Ghandi’s flip flop. If you can muster up a way of making that fun, then go rogue. If metals or maths isn’t floating anyone’s boat, then pick your own topic for the day. There is History, English, Maths, Art, in almost any subject you can think of. Share what you love – teach them something new they wouldn’t learn at school.
- Know when to quit. All in all, our biggest lesson after almost three months of home learning, is that not all learning happens at a table, behind a computer, or wielding a pencil. Life lessons come in all shapes and sizes – from helping to cook dinner, sorting laundry, making jelly or going for a walk. We aren’t teachers, so when you can’t do any more, just be what you are; a loving parent.