One of our goals as a charity this year is to become involved in shaping the attitudes of the teachers of the future. Being a teacher is a huge privilege and bears great responsibility. This responsibility can sometimes feel overwhelming, particularly for new teachers, just starting out in their careers.
During our presentation to the student teachers of the University of the West of England (UWE) this week, we discussed the science versus the art of teaching. The science being all the boxes that must be ticked to ensure that a teacher is doing their job properly…the planning, evaluation, assessment, record keeping, safeguarding, policy reading, classroom management etc. In order to pass their teaching degree every student must demonstrate their capability to manage all of these aspects of teaching adequately. From experience, we know that this takes a staggering amount of time and bucket loads of dedication. This is something that those student teachers already know and have accepted in their decision to embark on this as a career.
The art however is something else. One could describe it as the X factor of teaching, the something extra that transforms a good teacher into a great one! We believe the art lies in the passion, attitudes and beliefs of the teacher. In terms of teaching students with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) the ‘duties’ of a teacher are even greater, adding pressure to the already over-stretched resource of time. However, it is here where the differences between ‘good’ and ‘great’ teaching can often be most keenly felt.
In speaking to the student teachers this week, it was this message that we hoped to convey. The message that their passion for, attitudes to and belief in their pupils will be the difference in them becoming ‘great’ rather than ‘good’ teachers. Our message of never letting a diagnoses or label be a barrier to learning and always maintaining high expectations of their pupils regardless, of their labels, was very positively received.
We are so grateful to have been able to speak to such a large number of tomorrow’s teachers at this event. To encourage them to assume competence and leave judgement at the door will surely have an enormously positive impact on their pupils in the coming years. We are hopeful, based on the feedback from our presentation, that the students of UWE will go on to make confident, ambitious, aspirational teachers who can show other professionals, through their good practice, just what it means to teach the individual behind the label.
If you are a teacher [student or experienced] or hold an academic post at an establishment offering teacher training, please do contact us for further information about how we might get involved in your SEND training or CPD.