I know this is no great revelation but it's worth sharing. I teach a whole range of subjects, mostly related to computing, business or project management. Some I can just wander into a classroom and genuinely feel I'm making a difference, getting through to everyone in the room, even tearing people's eyes away from the latest text message or facebook comment and the guys do learn and do something. Even those that don't actually do that something in the hour and a half they're supposed to, do so when they get round to it later. Others, though, I struggle with. I can be well-prepared, with all kind of materials and lesson plans and similar stuff to my other subjects on a VLE. They either just don't seem to get it, tasks get done reluctantly if at all, no-one seems to want to do much research or come up with anything by way of original content. Ctr + C and Ctr + V rule. Time drags and I go off for a cigarette and wonder what on earth I can do better.
Then it dawned on me. It's all about how much I like the topic, how passionate I feel about it. Nothing to do with them, the room, the ruddy VLE and definitely nothing to do with anything I might have picked up from staff development or teacher training. Where the topic's something I do, something I know loads about, or think I do and enjoy researching, writing about, playing with - that's when it all works. I have gone on about ILT and e-learning, about web tools and goodness knows what for years but the really good teaching - those times when students say thank you as they go and have smiles on their faces because they've learned something they wanted to learn or, even occasionally, look a bit sad because I've struck an emotional chord that was appropriate for a downbeat topic or time, those times have had absolutely nothing to do with all that. It's been about me, my running around the room, arguing, prodding, pushing ideas, passionately claiming how brilliant some design is or cringing physically at some ghastly output or text.
That, dear reader, that's where it's at. If you are interested, intrigued, fascinated and expert in your field that's what you can teach. Inspectors may not approve of your methods. Forget whether you're being inclusive, showing equality of opportunity or whatever it's now called. Sod health and safety. Be brave, be bold, be inspiring, be diffrent, be you.
If you find yourself trudging along to the classroom next week with a pile of lesson plans and standard issue assignment sheets or whingeing when you get there because the internet's not working or there's no projector, moaning about the furniture or all the other things that I know I've done at times, if you do then the chances are that's not a topic you should be teaching. You can teach what you like in a bare room with a blackboard!
We need a Tbay - where we can get colleagues to bid for those units we hate that someone else might really care about. Hey, I might even bid for accounting, probably get that quite cheaply. I'm posting up web architecture which I haven't much of a clue about. No reserve!
It's a pity that we all need to keep our jobs so much these days that none of us will admit to what we don't really like. We'll get by. But if DfE could come up with a passion gauge for a teaching qualification instead of turning us all into robots that would be nice.
As I said, I know this is no new astounding theory. I just felt we needed to be reminded that some of us should stop and make way for a colleague's real talent in some lessons. Not all. Well, not unless you're really crap.