Motivation and me: the challenges

motivationI was recently asked ‘Why do you do what you do? Why do you get out of bed every morning?’

Big Questions! But something teachers should continually ask themselves.

The IFL’s final survey of teachers found that

“More than anything, it seems that the central motivation for teachers in FE and skills is the successful achievement and progression of learners.”

I recently did a ranking activity on skills and attributes of a teacher. The list was referenced to such places as The Sutton Trust Toolkit, OFSTED and the Education and Training Foundation, and contained words such as enthusiasm, inspiring, passion, high expectations & knowledgeable. It was a great discussion activity and an opportunity to have the time and space to think about such BIG QUESTIONS.

And while doing the task it gave me a Small Glow inside, that pride knowing that what I did made a difference, but it also raised another question. If people come into teaching with such high expectations of what a teacher’s role is, what happens next? What is it about the role that sees such high levels of stress, such levels of people leaving the profession. Where does that passion, enthusiasm and inspiration go?

The IFL survey continued

“Too many examples were presented of planning, reflection and professional development not being considered legitimate parts of the working week.”

Is this the crux of the challenge for teachers? Finding the balance between administrative duties of the role and the planning, reflection and CPD needed in order to be able to do the parts of the job that get you out of bed in the morning.

I am very happy with this year’s challenges. I’ve stepped back a little from the course I am most ‘comfortable’ with in terms of planning and delivery (although the biggest challenge of this course is the large amount of administration that it needs to run smoothly and this hasn’t gone away) and I’m hoping this will help me get some perspective on the course and what makes this particularly stressful when I am so confident with, and enjoy delivering, the syllabus.

I have two courses that I am running for the second time. The first, an ESOL-specific teacher ed course, I am really really enjoying. I love the mix of teacher ed and ESOL and feel that this year I am much clearer on the requirements of the course and how to blend the ESOL into this without overloading the students. I am getting some really nice feedback from the classes and feel very confident about this. This course I feel is a beautiful blend of challenge and comfort zone. The course has minimal administrative aspects and I can really focus my time on planning, deliverying and reflecting on my session.

The second course I’m ‘repeating’ is a low level ESOL class. The challenges of this course are different again. I am very confident in terms of knowing the curriculum and ESOL is my first love, so being in class is always lovely (there is a ‘but’ coming here though) Teaching teenagers is possibly the biggest challenge for me here, I still can’t confidently predict what they will and won’t engage with, and actually the restrictions of PSD (personal, social development) is pretty frustrating – both in terms of the curriculum I need to follow and the administration of a portfolio building qualification.

I am excited about all my teaching this year, but the thing that occupies my thoughts the most is the year one generic teacher ed course. I am absolutely loving this course. We are only six weeks in but I have got some really lovely feedback already. One student emailed to thank me for the least stressful observation she has ever had. (the highest praise for a teacher educator??) There is that Small Glow again. I think I could write a blog in its own right about what I am learning from delivering this course. I am certainly tightrope walking on this one though, or maybe slack lining! Feeling for the balance the movement. I am aware that the students are (generally) new to teaching and many of them have not been in formal education themselves for a while so I certainly don’t want to over load them, but I do want them to love teaching as much as I do.

So these have been my teaching challenges. Add to that a wider cross college role that I have as well as a practitioner research project I’m undertaking my working week is pretty full. It feels like a beautifully formed ecosystem. A delicate balance that needs to be nurtured and loved to fully florish, so please. No fly tipping.







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