Double Speak?

I was having a conversation recently. In said conversation the topic turned to equality and diversity (as is standard for so many of my convos). We were discussing workplaces and hiring people who are ‘different’ to us – whatever that difference is to you, your team, your work, your personalities, your culture, your norms.

A guy. A lovely guy. A lovely guy who’s open, and aware, and actively committed to diversity & equality. A lovely guy from whom I’ve learnt about how to practically make space for and include others in my daily life; a lovely guy I’ve worked with.

He said something. Something NOT even offensive. Something normal and understandable and relatable.

As he explained why, when hiring for a role, they’d chosen the candidate with more ‘experience’ (in the limited boxes listed on the JD); the candidate who was ready to hit the ground running. He explained why they hadn’t chosen the other candidate.

The one they wanted. Like really really wanted. The one who had rich and varied experience and character and who would had stretched and added to their team and work in different ways. The one who would have needed some mentoring. Some input. Maybe some training and definitely some time, to learn and adjust. And who would have, in turn, taught and grown them. He explained how, with capacity constraints and output demands they just weren’t able to do that now.

I silently ask myself silently:

What is ‘ability’ but willingness met with effort?

Love of teaching

I LOVED TEACHING. I feel the need to capitalise that statement because so many people, teachers included, are jaded and critical of teaching. But I loveddd it. I enjoyed it when I trained as an RE teacher 8 years ago, then I really liked being in the classroom for the first couple of years, then, in my final few years, LOVE was cemented. There are not many roles in which one enjoys the intellectual stimulation of research, critical thinking, and deep analysis of topics as far-flung as necrophilia (yep, we went there!), Platonic views of reality, why God made wasps-oh, and the ‘meaning of life’.  A job where one is instructor & social-worker, lecturer & friendship-mender, prison warden & mother, academic mentor & life coach, actor & editor, entertainer & counsellor, researcher & preacher, make-up adviser & agony-aunt, administrator & mass tea-maker nearly every single day! (Oh and of course an art-displayer and sport’s day coach and cheerleader!)

My heart SWELLS when I remember hugging pupils (sod what the rules say-crying children need hugs!). I gave fist pumps when I struggling pupils got that C they needed, or when I saw the shiny stars accompanying the A of hard-workers who made the library their new abode for exam season. I grieved when troubled children were expelled because people didn’t know (didn’t want to know?) how to help them but I knew that they knew that I saw their worth.  I felt more pride in pupils’ finally ‘getting it’ than I do for my own degrees.  And no one who hasn’t taught can understand the feelings of despair when they don’t get it no matter how many diagrams and youtube links you employ or lunch breaks you give up…nor the JOY that comes when they finallllly do!

Teaching is worthy. It is a labour of LOVE love LOVE. I loved the intellectual engagement, the curiosity, and challenge, the variation that each day brings (even though you’re following the same timetable and teaching the same people-no day is ever the same as the next).  No one can explain the GRACE that teenagers can show when you’re unwell, or they can just somehow smell that you’re upset (even though you put your ‘teacher face’ on!), and no one can explain how they can level you with meanness if they sense you don’t like them. Because, like us all, pupils want to be loved.

Obvs teaching is not all hugs and gifts of chocolate-oh the marking, the data, the behaviour management, the exhaustion, the whiny colleagues, the whinier students, the misguided leadership, the ambition-obsessed peers, the challenging parents, and the constant demand to give, GIVE, and give more more more.

But whilst it is not the job for me for now-I doubt there are many more important and fulfilling (and demanding) job under the sun.

And if you’re curious ‘what teachers make’…check this fab clip out!