The summer holidays are quickly approaching. The first few weeks should be time to unwind, switch off from school and relax with family and friends, before the inevitable planning ahead of the autumn term. Many of you will be feeling physically and mentally exhausted after a long year, so I think this is a good opportunity to reflect on you, the teacher, and your wonderful efforts.
We have been sharing various inspirational quotes for and by teachers via social media, which have had a great response from our followers.
There were some philosophical musings about pedagogy: “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world,” – Nelson Mandela. “Education is not the learning of facts, but the training of the mind to think,” – Albert Einstein.
We liked these motivational mantras: “A hundred years from now it will not matter what my bank account was, the sort of house I lived in or the kind of car I drove, but the world may be different because I was important in the life of a child,” – Forest Witcraft.
“It is the supreme art of the teacher to awaken the joy in creative expression and knowledge,” – Albert Einstein. “To the world you may be just a teacher but to your students you are a hero,” – unknown.
This one really hits the nail on the head when it comes to the daily grind of the modern teacher: “If a doctor, lawyer, or dentist had 40 people in his office at one time, all of whom had different needs, and some of whom didn’t want to be there and were causing trouble, and the doctor, lawyer or dentist, without assistance, had to treat them all with professional excellence for nine months, then he might have some conception of the classroom teacher’s job,” – Donald D Quinn.
Then there was the Department for Education’s Get into Teaching adverts in the spring, featuring Educating Yorkshire’s Mr Burton, aimed at attracting a new cohort of teachers. They emphatically reminded us of the best parts of the job. “What do you think a good teacher makes these days?” Mr Burton asks, striding through various school scenes. “Well, they make the class take something home to think about at the end of the day, besides their homework.
“They make students curious, question and criticise. They make them understand. They make that moment when it just clicks. They make a B+ feel like an Olympic gold when it’s the highest grade a student has achieved, but they can also make a B+ feel like a fail because a student knows it wasn’t their best effort.
“They make young people achieve more than they ever believed they could achieve. They make the frightened confident, the uninterested ambitious and the gifted brilliant. They make CEOs, nurses, scientists and engineers.”
I hope, reading this, that you feel empowered and valued as a teacher and remember why you got into the job in the first place. Last Christmas, we asked our donors, many of whom are fellow or retired teachers, to send in messages of support to the teachers who call our helpline, often overwhelmed by the stresses of the job. We had a phenomenal response and I want to share some of their words now:
“Keep up the good work! Although school life is very stressful at times, nothing can replace the help and support you give to your pupils. It is something they will always remember.”
“Yours is a stressful job so don’t feel a failure when you ask for help. Getting help will allow you to stay in the job to which you are dedicated.”
And lastly: “Remember all the children and parents who don’t complain and are happy with your work – and don’t let the government rules and regulations get you down.”
Julian Stanley is chief executive of the Teacher Support Network. Visit www.teachersupport.info or call 08000 562 561 (England), 08000 855088 (Wales).