Those of you who are familiar with my blog will know that I am an English teacher. I’m also now a non-teaching Deputy Principal, but once an English teacher, always an English teacher!! I’m often asked if I miss teaching since moving into a more administrative role, and truthfully, I do prefer my current role to my previous one. However, there are aspects of teaching that I miss very much.
Words, words, words
“I know nothing in the world that has as much power as a word. Sometimes I write one, and I look at it, until it begins to shine.”
― Emily Dickinson
There’s an old teaching joke that primary teachers love their children, secondary teachers love their subjects and – stop reading now, university lecturers! – third level teachers love themselves… Whether or not there’s any truth in that, I certainly loved my subject area. I miss sharing my favourite poets and writers with my students and my colleagues, I miss perusing lists of texts in an effort to choose the correct options for each particular year, I miss the many ways in which my students influenced my interpretation of or views on the material we studied. I particularly miss being able to use my role as an English teacher to explain whole weekends spent reading, or constant deliveries from Amazon!!
I miss the regular interaction with the students in my classes, and the resulting rapport which has such an impact on teaching and learning. I miss our discussions, our debates and even our disagreements. Meeting a group of students four or five times a week each year allows for the development of much more meaningful relationships than is often possible for a school leader. (A topic for another day!) I miss learning so much from them, not just in relation to teaching and learning, but about life in general through the eyes of teenagers in a world which has changed so much since my own schooldays.
“The most valuable resource that all teachers have is each other. Without collaboration our growth is limited to our own perspectives.” – Robert John Meehan
I miss the collegiality of my subject department. A teacher is no longer (thankfully!) the “prisoner-queen in her classroom…isolated from opportunity for professional interaction” described by Roland Tharp, and I’ve been fortunate to work with inspirational colleagues who were always ready to share their knowledge and supply constructive feedback, which certainly shaped the English teacher I became – and was still becoming. And what a release it was to be able to share my pedantic impulses with those who truly understood the (almost) physical pain caused by misplaced punctuation, misused homonyms and the myriad frustrations faced by grammar purists in today’s world!
I miss the journey of self-improvement to which I’ve always been committed as a teacher. My participation in the Instructional Leadership Programme was opening my eyes to new and successful teaching strategies, and I’d have liked a little more time to observe its long-term impact. However, I’m still participating in this programme and looking forward to the challenge playing a role in embedding its principles in my school, and of course, I’ve started a new journey of learning and improvement as a Deputy Principal.
What I don’t miss
Is there anything about teaching that I don’t miss? Honestly, yes there is, and it can be summed up in one word that won’t surprise any English teacher… MARKING!!!