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Hats off to our teachers! – Headmaster’s Blog – Tuesday 6th December 2016

December 6, 2016
Ballard School Blog hats teachers

Hats off to our teachers!

I have just watched a stunning performance by a Year 10 pupil in our school production in which in one scene he appeared as the young Eddie Lyons’ independent school Head – complete with gown, suit, earnest expression and commanding voice – and then immediately switched to being young Mickey’s Geography teacher trying to coax some information out of the somewhat bored class. Setting aside the caricature of school teachers being portrayed, it reminded me of the versatility of real teachers and how we often have to wear different ‘hats’.

Rachel Johnson, in her latest Mail on Sunday column, says she takes her hat off to anyone who becomes a teacher, saying she has twice stood before a class of students and “found it so challenging” that she was “virtually stretchered off the school grounds both times.” I think she’s right about the challenge and the ‘hats’ but I also want to say that this job can be a thrill and a privilege, too.

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One of our teachers with Paralympic winner and Alumnus Mikey Jones

It is certainly true that anyone going into teaching must be prepared to be something of an actor. To be a teacher is to be versatile daily. This might mean coming in at 7.30 a.m. wearing a tracksuit to run an early sports or drama club and then to switch to being a dinner lady or man to ensure your young charges have a good breakfast. Next up it’s a carer at registration, particularly after a weekend when a couple of your charges may well have fallen out (probably over social media). Hot on their trail come the parents – and so you put on a tin helmet as your latest ‘hat’ whilst you take the role of the UN peacekeeper. Blissfully lessons begin and as a teacher you can do what you have really been trained for – the hurly burly of the classroom. This will mean several ‘hats’ as you may well be teaching across an age range during the day from 8 to 16 year olds – and perhaps in more than one subject area.

Ballard School Kids Jigsaw Support

One of many ‘hats’ a teacher can wear

Break time brings the mediating ‘hat’ – you meet a staff colleague to negotiate over a pupil needed for a concert and a match simultaneously (you agree on the game this week and the music the next) – before more lessons including that ‘cover hat’ for a science colleague who’s off to the dentist. Lunch brings a brief respite (ten minutes for a hasty meal whilst discussing grades with another teacher) before you literally don a woolly hat to go outside on playground duty, come wind, come shine. Thrown in for good measure you have to act as a first aider when the game of football leads to a gashed knee after which it’s an assembly and you are giving the homily in line with one of the school values (resilience, possibly).

Afternoon lessons are traditionally more difficult to engage the youngsters and so you really do act now – I know one history teacher who will climb on tables brandishing mock swords to illustrate ancient warfare and a science teacher who really is ‘the mad professor’, explosions and all. Before you know it the bell has gone at 4.00 p.m. and lessons are over for the day. Home? Not a bit of it! Activities are now in full swing and today you are ‘junk modelling’ (glue, boxes, string and sellotape – very creative stuff) whilst tomorrow it’s a game of volleyball to officiate and then the next it’s the school play.

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Listening to the rules in preparation for play  -yet another ‘hat’ to wear

At last it’s 5.00pm – home now? Surely not! There’s that pastoral care meeting to attend, the warring parents to appease (you were only able to put them off temporarily this morning) and then, bliss of bliss, the marking and the preparation to do for tomorrow. Somewhere along the line you do get home to eat, answer more emails and then to sleep – before it all starts again!

‘Hats off to teachers’ – certainly, but the variety, the challenge and the interaction with vibrant young lives must make it the best job in the world (well most of the time)!

Ballard School Headmaster Summer 2016

Alastair Reid (Headmaster)

We tweet from @BallardSchool

Ballard School is a non-selective, private co-educational school in New Milton, Hampshire (on the Dorset/Hampshire border), providing an outstanding level of education for nursery to GCSE. With small class sizes and proven academic excellence, we strive to nurture the academic potential of all students. Learn more about our academic programmes, pastoral care, facilities and school ethos by visiting our website or by requesting a prospectus here

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