“I’ve come to the frightening conclusion that I am the decisive element in the classroom. It’s my daily mood that makes the weather. As a teacher, I possess a tremendous power to make a child’s life miserable or joyous. I can be a tool of torture or an instrument of inspiration. I can humiliate or humour, hurt or heal. In all situations, it is my response that decides whether a crisis will be escalated or de-escalated and a child humanized or de-humanized.”
This was the opening to our inset session tonight. I’m sure that it is familiar to many people. We were given a presentation by the Head and Deputy of our local high school who together call themselves ‘The decisive Element’ and this quotation set the theme.
Part of the focus of the presentation was that all children are improveable and we looked at the research regarding What’s the difference between a first violinist in the Berlin Phil and an also ran? Answer – 10 000 hours practice.
The head actually said that he had come to the conclusion that there is no scuh thing as a gifted and talented child. He said that he has come to the conclusion that our gifted and talented children are simply those who have been encouraged to try things and practice them.
I’m not sure that I agree with this. I agree that a lot of our more able children are those who have been encouraged and helped by their parents early in their lives. However I still think that there are children who do display a natural talent for certain things which cannot simply be explained by their background.
The point though is that any child can get better at something and that is something that I wholeheartedly agree with. We should never label a child as unteachable or say that they can never do something. It might take longer for them than others but they well get there in the end.
We also discussed who inspired us as teachers and what we loved about our jobs. They talked about how easy it is to get ground down by everything around us. There was a brief look at work done by Andy Cope (author of Spydog) on happiness and the number of people who are generally happy and look forward to life.
We watched Pig of Happiness
You can decide to be happy and if you decide to be positive then that will spread to others around you. The 4 minute rule is supposed to be that if you can be positive and upbeat for the first 4 minutes then that will set the mood for the next hour. Well it can’t be that hard to be happy for 4 minutes of each lesson surely?
The end message was that we have the best, most important job in the world and we should ‘Be Proud to be a Teacher’