Friday, 4 December 2015

Teaching English is special – it gives students a voice


Teaching English is special – it gives students a voice
Katie Ashford is an English teacher

I remember one of my very early lessons, where I was teaching a bottom set year 10 class.
It was a disaster: I had kids throwing things, standing on the tables, lifting up ceiling tiles,
swearing at me. I was just standing at the front of the room, helpless,
trying to get them to calm down. The kids were lovely in the end, when I'd won them over.
I got into teaching through Teach First. I liked the vision behind the organisation –
the idea that you can contribute towards something as huge as tackling educational inequality. 
When you're training, they tell you about the education problems we face nationally –
how 20% of kids are leaving school illiterate, or how only 16% of free school meal students
go to university. The only way to change things is to get stuck in,
whether that's through joining TeachFirst or taking a different training route.

Of course, nothing can prepare you for what it's like to be at the front of a classroom.
In my first year, I was inexperienced and inconsistent:
I didn't always follow through on consequences.
Students saw the chinks in the armour, and that's when things start to go wrong.
I was lucky that my colleagues supported me and told me to keep persevering.
With time, you learn how to set the right tone and draw the line – and as you grow in confidence, 
small things encourage you. One of the breakthroughs for me was once, when the rest
of the class were talking and ignoring me, one girl turned around and said: "Ssh, Miss is talking."
I thought: "That's it, I've got one child to listen to me: one child wants to learn –
it's a breakthrough." It's those moments when you have a kid come in at lunchtime and say,
"Miss can you help me with my homework?"
or "Miss, is it true that Shakespeare left his bed to his wife in his will?"
that make you want to carry on.
It's such a great feeling when you see that spark of curiosity and interest.
I enjoy teaching English because it's special – it gives students a voice.
I show students that words are powerful things: they're the things that influence people,
that instigate change in the world. Ultimately, you want kids to be able to compete with those
who have the most power – people who often come from the wealthiest backgrounds.
The only way to prove what power language has is to show them the best texts that have ever been written or spoken. That's why I'll happily teach them anything from Cicero's speeches
to Chaucer or Charles Dickens: I want to give them access to the best possible literature available.
It's fortunate that English is seen as a high priority in schools, but I want to steer away from
the idea that we should get students to a grade C just for the sake of it.
English is about truly understanding how humanity has shared ideas and thinking over time –
how writers have explored the psyche and what it means to be a human.
For me, it's the most fascinating subject you can teach. Every time we study a text
that I used to think that I knew inside out, students will pick something that I haven't noticed
or considered before – that's amazing. Maybe maths teachers get the same thing, but I doubt it.
I think English teachers have it over maths teacher on that one.
No matter what your subject is, teaching is exhausting. You have to be prepared, every single day,
to experience every emotion possible. You'll hear more lies (and poorly thought out lies),
and more sincere apologies that you ever imagined. You'll never be so happy to see
a child's smiling face, but also never so annoyed to see a child's grimace.
I don't have a huge amount of experience of the rest of the working world, but I can't imagine another job where you get to see such a broad spectrum of human interest on a daily basis.
It's so varied, it tests every single fibre of your being.

You can TCR specialist and language dictionaries that are spontaneously accessed.
I can Turbo Charge Read a novel 6-7 times faster and remember what I’ve read.
I can TCR an instructional/academic book around 20 times faster and remember what I’ve read.
Introduction to Turbo Charged Reading YouTube
A practical overview of Turbo Charged Reading YouTube 
How to choose a book. A Turbo Charged Reading YouTube
Emotions when Turbo Charged Reading YouTube

Advanced Reading Skills Perhaps you’d like to join my FaceBook group ?

Perhaps you’d like to check out my sister blogs:     gives many ways for you to work with the stresses of life          take advantage of business experience and expertise.

To quote the Dr Seuss himself, “The more that you read, the more things you will know.
The more that you learn; the more places you'll go.”

No comments:

Post a Comment

Your opinions, experience and questions are welcome. M'reen