Monday, 10 July 2017

Can That Boy Teach?

It was my first year in post as assistant head. In reality I was a full time year 6 class teacher. The headteacher (well known in the area, if you catch my meaning) from the school next door (yes, we share a boundary wall with a three-form entry primary - we're two-form) observed me teaching (for whatever reason - local partnership review day or something). The lesson didn't set the world alight (I remember it being graded as 'Good' back when we did that sort of thing) but, as reported to me by the headteacher, as he closed my classroom door he uttered the words 'That Boy Can Teach'.

I suppose I can. It'd be a travesty if I'd got the position I'm in now without that being the case.

And what position am I in now? Well, I'm finishing my third year of being an assistant head (actually, now an assistant (vice) principal) with responsibilities for upper key stage two and whole school maths and year 6 teacher, but there are changes afoot. In September I'll be leading the year 3 and 4 phase, mentoring three NQTs and two Schools Direct students and leading a maths team. I'll also be working two days for the MAT that my school is part of - I'll be Lead Primary Practitioner working on various projects in three other primaries as well as working on the NQT, RQT and middle leaders programmes (and probably another, currently secret, aspect of the academy's work).

But I won't be teaching. Or at least, I won't have a regular teaching commitment.

My teaching commitment (roughly 70% timetable these last two years) has been my bread and butter - the thing which has garnered me respect and credibility; my team know that if I'm asking them to do something, then I'll be doing it too. Because I've been teaching, I've been able to represent the voice of the classroom teacher in SLT meetings - I was the one truly 'on the ground' so I knew the impact on teacher's lives of our requirements. It's also given me plenty of tweet and blog fodder.

And classroom teaching, day in, day out, is what has kept me going - I know this now I've stopped. I absolutely love it - you don't know what you've got 'til it's gone; absence makes the heart grow fonder. I savour the feeling of having achieved many things, all in the space of one morning. I thrive on the challenge of trying to teach children things, especially the process of creating and implementing more effective ways of teaching. I have, quite simply, enjoyed my 11 years as a teacher. And I'll miss it a lot.

So, can I teach? Or will I teach? Will I be able to somehow teach as part of my new roles? I hope so. I'll be looking for every opportunity to get in those classrooms to work with the children where the magic happens. I anticipate team teaching with my NQTs, teaching model lessons for my students, covering my team members to allow them to carry out other tasks. I'll no doubt want to do some interventions and definitely some 1:1s (so effective for improving writing I've found). Whilst none of that will compare to having my own class (oh, how sweet it felt as an NQT to finally have my own class instead of teaching someone else's) I am hoping that it will satisfy the need to teach children.

I've been told by a couple of wise heads now that my class will be the teams I work with. I've also been warned of the 'slow' nature of non-teaching work - how you have to adjust to working with longer term goals. I hope that I will manage these changes, as well as others that I'm sure I've not even thought of yet. And if it doesn't suit me, I'm sure there will be a classroom somewhere that'll have me back. But I hope to make a good go of my new roles, even if it means my Twitter/blog name might seem a bit irrelevant.

I'd love to hear from you if this transition from classroom teacher to non-classroom 'teacher' is something you've managed effectively. Please get in touch via the comments or on Twitter with your wise and wisdomous advice.


  1. I'm even more impressed by your Twitter name now I know where it came from ! It's still relevant because it's why you'll be carrying out your new very important role. As you mention, your class will be the teams you work with and their pupils - that's how I got my head round my role and being out of the classroom. You'll be great and you'll love it - it's the right time ☺️

  2. It's a challenging transition but one with just as many rewards as being in the classroom full time. It will take a while for you to adjust to not having your 'own' class and that bond you develop with 30 or so young children, however these bands can still be developed through being present within the school or schools you work in.
    Make it an aim of spending at least 30 minutes of your day in a classroom so that staff and students see you, hear you and know that you are their for the teams you work with. Have that regular dialogue with staff to support, encourage and enthuse - knowing you are doing this and having staff come to you and say 'Wow, it worked!'or 'I taught the lesson we developed together, students loved it, I am going to do xyz now..' gives you that same warm feeling just like the 10 year old you have just seen solve a Maths problem without giving up!
    Wishing you huge success in your new role and if you ever need any support or advice from someone who has been through this let me know. Emily 😊