Shaking things up…and off.

Seven Reasons Teachers (EVERYONE) Should Shake Things Up images

Try something new! Yep, we’ve heard it before. Loads and Loads of times. But being told something a million times doesn’t make us hear it any differently. Even meeting friends who have taken up pottery or Asian Fusion cooking and are enthusing endlessly has little impact. It takes 50 hours to change a habit or embed a new skill into our normal way of working. 10, 000 hours to become experts. Change is hard.

Schools are very good at creating resistance ‘mindsets’. Tight routines and structures give little chance to think differently –  education is almost opium to teachers. Maybe the government’s strategy is to hem teachers in so tight that we cannot change or leave. It certainly feels that way. I’ve taken up bouldering, a form of climbing without ropes, only not so high. It made me think about other aspects of life I want to change. We are quickly institutionalised by schools – trying something new is an act of rebellion against the oppression of the system. Here’s why we should:

1) Because teaching is the most routine profession. Everything is dictated by the timings of the school day. Such routine means we never miss a lesson or a meeting – my body clock even knows when it is coffee time on holiday. Disrupting the routine and the familiar is vital. Small changes – like taking a different route to school – can make a huge difference.

2) Because we need to be stimulated too! We spend our time inspiring and motivating our students and become robots when we have taught a text or mathematical concept or historical event so many times we can do it with our eyes shut. But we get very little opportunity to enrich our own imaginations and creativity, to think in different ways and do things differently. Much as I really enjoy the learning dialogue that marking invites, another batch of essays on a text I have taught fifteen times simply isn’t motivating – even when they are funny (by which I mean tragically wrong).

3) Because it’s dangerous! Trying something new is scary when you are used to the safety and comfort of the familiar. I walked into a buzzing seminar room at Ealing Studios at the weekend feeling very small and alone and learned how to read film scripts for the studios. I can’t remember the last time I did that – when I walk into a classroom or meeting room I take control of my space. But doing new things regularly makes it easier, until it’s also routine.

4) Because it’s really hard to be a student again. We get too comfortable being the experts; we forget what the students don’t know. We pitch and pace lessons every day but when were we last in a situation where we couldn’t keep up with the learning? Our students experience this regularly; we are more sympathetic to their anxieties and worries if we remember what it feels like. That makes us better teachers. No brainer.

5) Because teachers are insular. Education is insular. You know that teachers will be talking shop all night in the pub; you never bring more than one teacher to a party. If you do, they will have found each other within minutes through some kind of invisible GPS, and they will be talking shop… again. We live and breathe education;  attempting new things brings something new into the classroom – the world beyond these walls just happens to be the place where many of our students are happier, too, so making that connection for them only builds their confidence.

6) Because teachers are blinkered. We are passionate about our subjects, and we might even call ourselves experts in our fields. But when was the world all about Geography or Literature or PE? What would happen if we let teachers loose with proper CPD that took them outside their academic environments? Corporations give their staff challenge days under the guise of bonding. Let’s get a multi-disciplinary, co-curricular perspective into our teaching – a way of thinking and working much better suited to the modern world.

7) Because teaching is about growing. Building a ‘Growth Mindset’ is the big idea in education at the moment. Building grit and resilience develops out of our comfort zone – another education buzzword. But why are we preaching to our students about taking risks and being bold when we do nothing of the sort? If education is about growth, we should all be growing together.

Go on – get out there.

3 thoughts on “Shaking things up…and off.

  1. losemymouth

    This post is so true. My mom was saying that when she was in university in education an HR person came and talked to her class. He said that they didn’t like to hire people who obtained very high grades because they didn’t tend to stay in the field. I am so excited to be making a career change and learn some new things too!


  2. Shay C

    Hello, I came across your site doing some research, I wanted to know what do you wish you knew during your transition? Did you find a lot of resources to help you or were you just kind of out there? Look forward to your response.


    1. suzannetriviere67 Post author

      Hi there,
      Thanks for your comment. There is a long list of things I wish i had known – here are just a few!
      1) How much of a niche profession teaching is
      2) How difficult it is to change direction especially as we row older
      3) How little support there is from government jobseeker services – no one has the knowledge to help in changing careers here
      4) How to sell myself in a really competitive market
      5) The best buzzwords and jargon to use – I did a free online course with Coursera called ‘How to enhance your employability’
      6) What a modern office is like
      7) The range of IT software packages I now need to use for simple admin tasks – I should have got some office experience first
      8) How lonely jobseeking is now – it’s all done online even with recruiters
      9) How much CVs have changed – in the end I paid for a CV writer
      10) How invaluable career counsellors and coaches are…

      As I said, that is just a few – I did write a blog called ‘Feel the Fear’ that gives a range of tips on things to do to change careers – you might find it interesting!
      Good to hear from you and good luck




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