The release of GCSE results in the UK this week and A level results last week (and a comment on the TES twitter feed that this is why we teach students) has prompted me to think about why I teach. I know one thing: it is certainly not for exam results. In fact, if teaching was about the exam results, I don’t think I’d have lasted a year. The pressure on teachers to ‘perform’ is immense AND – just saying – students have to take some responsibility for their results as well. (Don’t get me started on professional development aims based on 95% of students hitting their government targets formed on their English SATs results from KS2, and the spin off from this of performance related pay).
I was at #KTL2015 conference last weekend, and fellow pom in oz @danhaestler in his key note speech said that students engage with the teacher long before they ever engage with the curriculum. He’s not wrong there! The relationship between the teacher and student is fundamental to any progress students make. I think this is getting more towards the reason I teach.
Of course I am interested in how the students I taught have done in their exams, and in the opportunities this opens for them in the big bad world (and I’m rather hoping one or two of my A level class will continue with some study of theology) but other than that, I don’t really care how they did in their exams.I care that they are following their dreams, that they are challenging themselves, that they are following a path that will make them happy. In this respect, I think Queensland has got it right with the balance of exams, assessment, and leaving certificates. There is no equivalent to GCSEs, which takes much pressure off Y10. The equivalent A level system is much less stressful for the students and teachers. Read more about differences between the UK and QLD Australia in my post for Innovate My School.
The reason I teach? I believe it is important that students study different cultures and religions, and learn to use higher level thinking skills. But beyond this, it is really because I enjoy it. I like the students. They are the ones who make every day interesting and exciting, and in return, I do my best to treat them as growing individuals who all start from a different point and all end at a different point.