How to value teachers’ uniqueness.

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I have written elsewhere about how, outside of the core basics of instructional ability required of all teachers, there is a wide spectrum of skills, interests, personalities and aptitudes that individual teachers can have which would enrich their pupils. So long as teachers are teaching effectively, this amazing diversity is perhaps one of the most unconsidered but fascinating elements of primary education.

The proclivities of a given teacher can alter the educational diet of their pupils enormously – two children in the same school can, in effect, experience wholly different educational journeys.

A child who is in the class of a teacher who is passionate about sport will likely value PE more, learn more and benefit more from their PE lessons than a cold in a class where the teacher sees PE as an extension of playtime. But then, during Art lessons, the roles may reverse and the art-loving teacher will pass on their passion for paint in a way their colleague, despite teaching the same lesson, cannot.

Schools seem to be moving towards a distrustful logic in which an effective school is one that operates like an efficient and reliable machine. This uncontrollable axis of teachers’ personality and proclivities could be seen as something to be wary of but actually, if harnessed, it could be an incredible way to ensure teachers thrive to the best of their abilities.

In these times in which teachers have so many responsibilities, it could be great to have these distributed in consultation with teachers themselves.  Teachers’ diverse interests and characters could be written all over the practices of the school.

When putting classes with teachers, plan it so that kids are exposed to as wide a range of teaching styles as possible. One year, the kids might be exposed to much more ICT and technology; the next year, they might just get their regular computer slot but they might, instead, have a teacher obsessed with immaculate presentation.  The year after, the next teacher might not care so much about presentation (but the kids are already in good habits), instead, this teacher might foster their independence and not baby them. Their next teacher might make it a focus to enrich them with an awareness of good music, or politics, or pedantry, or wit, or sarcasm or cartoons, or meditation…

Schools embracing the differences between teachers could not only lead to teachers gaining extra valuation and enjoyment from their work – having their autonomous space to innovate in an area of their interest – but it would allow kids to recognise and benefit from the best sides of all of their teachers.

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