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Recap, recoup, remember

‘So we are at the end of a gruelling autumn term. Many of us have experienced huge knock backs and are running on fumes.

It’s a good time to remember that sometimes you’ve got to stick to who you are and what you know.’

I spent three years working with experts from leading education systems in the world. Finnish/Canadian/Indonesian educationalists who advocated for play, inquiry, autonomy and freedom. I had three years of implementing relevant, real world learning experiences that were innovative, exciting and FUN! It seems to be a dirty word right now but I simply refuse to believe that making children bored and miserable is an effective learning strategy. My proof? My research? 15 years of teaching with immense success. Students continuing with my subjects (not just my main subject) and contacting me to thank me. Parents remaining in touch to give me updates and ask advice.
This week I visited the brass band that I helped instigate in a local primary school at the start of my mainstream career.
The children do not sit tests in brass playing. They do not learn silently and are not required to memorise the notes. They are instead allowed to fumble and make funny noises, stumble until they get it right and then feel the joy of creating music as part of a group when it all comes together.
6 years of brass players going through our school system. In five schools. Started by me. I worked out that, of those still playing, there are over 200 new instrumentalists in the West Midlands. That’s not counting the teachers and parents who joined in too. That’s not taking into account the community links forged and players who started again in order to help the younger generation.
My secret? I have FUN!! So much fun!!! Yes, we learn. Yes, I have aspirations for my learners. YES… we are silly and we laugh and we remember that life shouldn’t be miserable and silent and dull. Who wants to live in THAT world?! Not me!
So I WILL entertain my classes! I will make them giggle with laughter and spill out of my room buzzing with random questions. I will encourage discussion and inquiry. I will teach them to challenge the system.
If this makes me wrong then I do not wish to be right. If right is silent corridors and soundless classrooms with tables in rows and learners churning through information like automatons then give me the wrongness of subversion any day. Give me the purple streaked hair, the singing loudly, the asking constant questions. Give me unique.
I teach so that each of my students can become beautiful, individual, magically diverse beings. I will always listen to them and there I will take my lead.
The customer is always right and I have an impeccable customer service record!

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The author

Cate has been a teacher for 20 years. She has worked internationally and across all key stages in the UK. Her secondary specialism is Performing Arts with a keen interest in PSHE/RSE. Cate is recently married with two cats who keep her busy and an allotment that requires more time than she can give it!

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