I have worked in six different schools over the course of my teaching career. In their own way, all have been excellent and in each I can think of things my heads excelled at.
In each I can think of teachers that I looked up to and members of staff who inspired me.
In each there were children and young people who wowed me with their resilience, their enthusiasm for learning, their passion for success.
I have taught children from age seven to eighteen. I have worked with teachers who have just qualified and those in their final year before retirement. I have seen support staff with far more experience than me, and others who haven’t previously stepped foot in a classroom.
All were different.
And yet all were also the same.
Because as humans there is one thing that has a profound impact on all of us, and that is something they don’t teach during training.
It is quite simply kindness.
Kindness can change our day, whether through a small act or a large one, kindness matters.
My current school exemplify that in everything they do.
From surprise parcels delivered to staff today – even those isolating at home – to the way every small part of the day is approached.
No one talks about children being difficult, instead they discuss how to make things better for children who are finding school life hard.
People praise each other, constantly and consistently. Everyone is appreciated.
And that runs right the way through from the SLT to the children.
Everyone is included. Everyone is wanted. Everyone matters.
And what is more – they know they do.
As a parent I smile everyday when I hand my son to the staff in his room. I know they love him. I know they respect him. I know they value him for exactly who he is.
As a pupil that makes him, happy to go to school. It means he is ready to learn. But more than anything it means he can completely trust his teachers.
As a teacher I strive every day to do better. I take chances in my teaching. I also know that I am trusted, if I need to set a lesson aside to focus on children rather than an objective.
I know that my decisions will be treated with kindness and that makes me a better teacher.
I look around my room, and kindness is exemplified everywhere.
From the child who stops what they are doing to coach their partner, to the child who looks around them to check everyone has a partner, to the one who takes a risk to share their answer – confident in the response of their peers.
Kindness makes them better pupils and me an incredibly lucky teacher.
The truth is there is much talk about the content taught in schools, but to a large extent I cannot help but feel that misses the point.
It is not what we teach that is important – so much as how we teach.
It is the values we portray, the memories we leave, the attitudes our pupils develop – both about their own learning and towards each other that really matter.
And maybe if we all focused a little more on that, the world would be a better place.