A letter to my 25-year-old self as a young teacher

Dear Fergal,

You’re not far into your teaching career, and, despite all the hours you spend preparing for every lesson, all your hopes to be the best English teacher that ever existed, I know you already feel like you’re falling short.   Fergal Roche writes in Teachwire.  

Of course it’s important to aim as high as you can, and also to have role models. After all, the more time you spend observing the way others teach their own pupils the better – how else will you learn what does and doesn’t work?

There’s something else you need to learn, too, however: there is no ideal teacher. So stop trying to fit into a mould that doesn’t exist. The worst thing you can do is burn out in pursuit of that ever-elusive state called perfection.

You don’t have to throw out your own eccentricities to be a consummate professional. Quite the contrary. This is a career that thrives off strong and individual personalities – and thank goodness it does.

All pupils are just as surprising and diverse as those who teach them, of course. So when thinking about either them or yourself, be flexible. One day that flexibility will become your second nature. And then you’ll really know that you’re on the right track.

In the meantime your aim in class should be simple: destroy all negativity. Effective teaching builds on positivity and belief. Your job exists to show pupils that they can perform, achieve and succeed, however they might feel about it at first.

Think of it this way: your pupils’ minds are goldmines, each one of them, and while mining for gold can be one of the world’s most difficult jobs, what an extraordinary privilege it is to be the one who brings that precious material out of the darkness and into the light for what you hope will be a lifetime.

Later in your career, in your work as a head, and then as an advisor to schools and teachers, you’ll look back at the start of this wonderful journey and just feel hugely grateful you went on it. There’s no other job as exciting and significant as teaching. So relax, Fergal Roche, and enjoy.

Yours, Fergal

Read the full letter A Letter to My 25-year-old Self as a Young Teacher

Would your advice and words of wisdom to yourself be similar? Please tell us your thoughts in comments or via Twitter ~ Tamsin

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