The PPEs are done and marked (thank you!). The results are in. As expected, we still have a long way to go with this year group, but we have some real success stories beginning to emerge. Mathematics, for example are in a better place than they were this time last year. Middle leaders have put on their combat armour and are ready to give all that they have got! On a snowy day at the end of January, we are not just set to close our doors and send everyone home. We battle on, and we do this because it is the right thing to do. So, how do we get this level of commitment to succeed? Our most valued teachers, tutors and support staff at Tavistock do not blame students for a lack of enthusiasm, instead they have that knack of making students and their families feel valued. In and around the college great teachers have the habit of making sure they acknowledge and notice children. They use praise wisely and authentically. Students, or their parents, often go out of their way to thank me for having staff that believed in them. They tell me that what stands out, is that they really took the time to get to know them as an individual. Of course, they also appreciate these teachers for setting boundaries and for setting high standards.
Our best teachers at Tavistock somehow convey through word and deed that they really understand the emotional pressure children are under. They understand teenagers as well as their subject. They help children to see opportunities and show them how to contribute to their community. Through a love of their subject, great teachers convince children to take their studies seriously and for ensuring that a love of the subject is not only about passing an exam. They treat students as more than just a number. And yet in these classes, guess what – students do really well in public examinations, and this matters too. Great teachers give effective feedback. Those written comments, sticky notes, that word in the ear, that hint to the group, those annoyingly difficult questions just when they thought they’d got it…the written notes, test results, retest after retest, patience, cajoling and constant encouragement……
Tavistock teachers show children that they genuinely care about them. They take relationships seriously. They understand that relationships take time, effort and care. Relationships are messy, but the best are built on love, respect and trust. When times are tough they persevere. How do our teachers get to know each and every child as more than just a number, more than just a target grade? They talk to students and they listen. Simple. Such skilled professionals come across as time millionaires. Within their lessons they always seem to have time for each table, for each child. They acknowledge their charges in corridors, on the sports field, in the courtyard. They make the effort to go to watch them perform in assemblies, shows, exhibitions, competitions. They always seem to be able to convince children to try new things and push themselves. This gives children the courage to succeed.
Our valued teachers go out of their way to bring their subject alive and try to make lessons interesting. They have a sense of humour. They share fascinating insights into their life, deepening the bonds of trust. It proves they are human, somehow. Children relate to that. We all need that.
Upon reflection, I work with some wonderful teachers and support staff. At the end of the day, a great school is simply a school with great teachers in every classroom and great people surrounding them.
Thank you for all that you do.