The things a teacher does that you cannot count.
Each summer, NFL teams draft players from colleges around America. Losing teams get first pick of the best players. There was much debate about how high in the draft Tim Tebow would come. My stepson showed me a video of Tebow’s intangibles (will link when I find it); the things (leadership?) Tebow does that adds value to the performance of his team that cannot be measured in metres and points.
The smile. The right word at the right time. The energy you muster in the pupils before you. The belief you breathe into young spirit. How to strike the balance between firm boundaries that instill self-discipline and inspiration to fuel the drive to succeed. Poigniantly, I was discussing this with my partner and she flipped it at me citing moments when our blissful union had collapsed and I would defend my position with a list of tangibles and she could say nothing that would quantify her discipline and dedication being mother to our three (all teenagers now) – nothing to do with household chores – how she carries their lives and hearts in her mind, steering (masterfully, I must emphasise) the ship of our family.
Back to being a teacher and the contributions you make that no-one can touch. Do you plan it? Do you resource it? Thinking time? Reflecting on learning? Push them? Work them harder still? Formal or informal? Google 20% time? Mountains of work or less is more? Carefully prepared activities or spontaneity? Collaboration or solo pursuit? It is rare that the very activities you do in a classroom will make the difference. A teacher must inspire a pupil to pursue success when they are not in the classroom. A colleague of mine argues the case for drilling the pupils with exams. Everything must be exam content. I favour wider exploration.
I watched an awful film last week called Forever Strong. Larry Gelwix coached rugby in America – not an easy thing to do. 1976-2010 he oversaw 404 wins and 10 losses. He said, “I don’t build championship teams, I build championship boys.” He is talking about the individual person, not the rugby player.
I do not want to churn out pupils who get top grades on my production line. I want to inspire people to be more than what they believe to be their best.Images: DenverJeffrey and Chicago Booth