Sunday, 11 September 2016

Can you be both a perfectionist and a teacher?

Let's be clear. I'm not a perfectionist. Far from it. There are things I have very high standards about and other things I'll let slide. I think that's as true in terms of my attitude towards myself as it towards others.

During the term, their are many aspects of my practice and many aspects of my life that leave something to be desired. Be it the confusing mess of half finished ideas I call paperwork or the fact my partner and I sometimes talk for about a total of 20 minutes in a week.

I'm sanguine. This is the job. My resources are good. I'm focussed in the classroom, I try new things. I use objectives and criteria for success, AFL and I'm approachable and calm. I help colleagues plan, I create things for our department marketing, I run visits, I run CPD, I cover lessons, I attend union meetings, I am working parties and I offer strategies for issues college wide. I run extra curricular activities. I write lengthy and personal comments on work with literacy guidance and strategies to improve. I read with my child, I run around the house with a hoover, I cook food and freeze portions of it. I even sometimes go for a walk in the countryside or read a book. I almost never, ever, never, ever have a day off.

Were I to really dedicate myself to being any better at any one of the weaknesses (personal or professional) that are not directly focused on my classroom practice I'd probably keel over. I'd have days off. I'd not get the marking done. My partner would leave me (justifiably). My child wouldn't get his book read to him and the house wouldn't get hoovered.

That's OK, because my standards aren't so high that I can't cope when things aren't perfect.

It makes me laugh when you hear rhetoric about hiring 'only the best people' into teaching as if there isn't already a load of great people walking away from it.

I do wonder if the fact it's almost impossible to get a sense of a job really well done, or perhaps more accurately, a sense of 'completeness' is one of the reasons for the high turnover of teachers. It would be interesting to do some sort of survey about how NQT's saw themselves at the outset of their career and how they saw themselves now.

I'd be surprised if many of them remained 'perfectionists'

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