As another 30,000 trainee teachers gear up to begin treading the boards at the front of classrooms around the country, probably feeling a little like actors thrust in front of a critical audience without much of a script, it seemed a good time to weigh in with some gratuitous advice, to add to the ever-increasing pile that no doubt everyone is pushing from all directions.
At times, teaching can feel impossibly complex. Perhaps you’ve already encountered the quote from Shulman (1987 and a whole load of other places)
“After some 30 years of doing such work, I have concluded that classroom teaching… is perhaps the most complex, most challenging, and most demanding, subtle, nuanced, and frightening activity that our species has ever invented.”
Well, forget that. Teaching does get complex, but it should be perfectly manageable for anyone who has made it through the selection process. It just takes a bit of time to get the hang of it.
Actually, you only really have to get three things right. Within those three things there are lots of little bits, but that means you can get plenty of the little bits wrong without too much damage. An actor has to memorise the whole of a play and get it word perfect, along with all the rehearsed arm waving. You, my friend, can ad lib when you need to. So slap on the metaphorical greasepaint. Remember that you don’t have to let on that no-one gave you a script. Children have an astonishing tendency to overlook, or at least forgive, all sorts of errors if you keep your chin up, don’t flap, speak clearly, and treat them fairly.
Just three things: