Your country needs YOU! (But qualified please, don’t take the Michael)

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I appointed a new office worker this year: she had worked in banking and had experience of working with the public. At the end of the term I asked her how she had enjoyed her first 8 weeks working in a school. She said that she had absolutely loved it but…

…she couldn’t believe the intensity of life in a primary school and how hard all the teachers worked. ‘I knew they’d be busy in the classroom teaching stuff but I never realised how hard they work on the emotional support for the children and the parents and everything else that has gone on this term: it’s just non-stop!’

For me this newly found perception is most interesting precisely because she hadn’t even seen the work that goes on in the classroom: just everything else and as those of us in education know it’s often the ‘everything else’ which is so exhausting and rewarding simultaneously…and a big reason why QTS is important.

So you have a degree, a passion for your area of expertise and you believe you would be a great teacher. That is genuinely fantastic! I’m pleased for you, come into the world of education and you will love it but please don’t break in via a side door while no one’s looking. Do it properly and train: why? Because you’ll be a better teacher, I promise. I know you have a Masters and yes I know you have a passion but all that will enable you to do is to give some high quality information to the children in your class (due to your degree) with some of them retaining some of it (because of your passion). Teaching is more than getting children to remember stuff (despite Gove gulping to the contrary).

Being a teacher is HUGE. You literally can’t get a job with a bigger job description. I haven’t got time to go into all of it but this picture of a mug sort of puts it across – albeit in a rather smug way.

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A mug that is smug…a smug-mug if you will. Every staff room should/will have one.

See? It’s a big job and quite frankly it is too big for your degree in [inset whatever degree subject you want] to handle. It needs a bit more care and attention if it’s going to be done correctly. Oh, and if you think by ‘done correctly’ you think I’m still just talking about the teaching a lesson bit you need to start reading this again or look at the smug-mug or alternatively decide never to become a teacher.

What I’m trying to get at is that with QTS you will understand and will be beginning to be better at working with the pressures and the all the other ‘stuff’ that you have to manage effectively so you can still deliver consistent levels of progress and achievement over time. You still won’t be perfect (but don’t worry we’ll all help you) and you’ll get better.

But if I’m going to get better at being a teacher because of working on the job anyway-why can’t I skip the boring QTS bit?

Oh ok and while we’re at it we might as well just put it about that ‘rosebud’ is just his sledge, Vador is Luke’s Dad, Romeo and Juliet both die, Godot never turns up, the girl in the crying game has a willy and the answer to the life, universe and everything is 42. Do you want to do that? No, I didn’t think so. You don’t just skip to the end, the pay-offs will be meaningless: you’ve got to work your way through it, build up your knowledge and understanding.

Training to become a teacher is far more valid than some certified measure of aptitude and a lot of self-belief. It involves going to lectures and listening to experts talk about learning and the psychology of pupils and the importance of all those bits and pieces identified on the smug-mug whilst doing small work placements in a variety of school settings and reading endless books about becoming a reflective teacher and then transposing them into your own thoughts and pedagogy. It will actually really help you when you finally get your hands on you own class full of 30 (or more) individual minds bodies and souls.

So give yourself and the fellow professionals you wish to work alongside the professional dignity and stature we deserve and become a qualified teacher.

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