The reason I am starting this blog today is in actual fact due to an email I received this morning (and no, it is not relating to Mr. Gove’s departure, the timing is purely co-incidental). It really struck a chord with me and I realised that I did not have the appropriate forum in which to share it. The story inspired me in many ways and reminded me of many pupils I have worked with. It may inspire others the same as it did me or in different ways but I don’t think that matters… This is what I wanted to share (all names blanked out & permissions gained to publish):
Sent: 14 July 2014 16:59
Subject: All teachers of ******, please read
If you teach ******, I just thought I’d share some of his skills with you. I mentor ****; I know he can be a difficult and distracted student at times and therefore it’s easy to forget how engaged and grown up he can be. He’s just one of those kids who, if modern education allowed it, would be doing practical stuff all day, working with his hands, preferably outdoors.
Pictures taken at The ‘Cherry Wood Project’ near Bath last week show him 1. Catching grasshoppers; 2. On the pedal-lathe. ***** has attended a course there over the last few months learning to concentrate on skills and focusing on practical goals. He loved it and the staff there think the world of him – “He is our best student; really talented, grown up and focused,” said one of the staff, for instance. He’s incredibly skilled on the lathe, at green-woodworking, at music (guitar and drums) and bike mechanics, all skills that are easily forgotten outside of specific lessons.
So this really is just a friendly reminder that he has great talents, and, when encouraged and engaged in practical projects and tasks, he can excel. Please give him this chance by acknowledging his successes and offering practical tasks where appropriate.
I have been involved in UK secondary Art (with a CAPITAL ‘A’) education now for over 10 years and now find myself starting this blog.
As a Fine Art graduate returning from a stint of traveling in South-East Asia, I decided that I wanted to do something ‘Ethical’ & ‘Transformative’ with my creative skill set. Luckily, through a friend who worked as an Art Teacher, I secured an Art Technician job in a London secondary school, which set me on the path to becoming fully fledged Teacher. Quickly progressing to Head of Department then Head of Faculty in a challenging environment, I had a sharp learning curve. I’m lucky to have been amazingly mentored, trained and supported by colleagues and will forever be thankful for the time others invest in me. Teaching is not always easy, far from it in fact, as I’m sure comes as no surprise to anyone. No matter how tough things can be, it always remains a hugely rewarding job. Thankfully, now with the most challenging early years in the profession navigated, I am a confident teacher with a decent track record. Hopefully this leaves me in a position to contribute in more far reaching capacities to ways forward in creative education and connected fields.
Last year I decided that after 14 years living in the capital it was time to move on. It’s hard to leave a school and department in to which so much time is dedicated (9 years), but it proved to be a hugely energising move. I now live and work in the Bristol area, a perfect fit for an arty outdoors lover like me. My first year out of London flew by, but I now feel more inspired and in love with my vocation than ever before.
When I left my post in London I did not want to rush a job application at the first schools that had openings. I decided supply work would enable me to gain experience of a wider variety of settings, get to know my new area and make a more informed choice about the next move. This proved to be a fantastic option, not only did it enable me to experience life in different schools, but it enabled me to free up time to delve into the world of online research and networking.
The discoveries I made in my year out of a permanent post have me as excited about my work as when I first started out. I feel a little late to the party (online ideas sharing) in some respects, but I’m here now and happy to be!