Can’t imagine what I could imagine. Wax on, wax off.

Can't imagine what I could imagine. Wax on, wax off.
Can’t imagine what I could imagine. Wax on, wax off.

I can’t imagine how imaginative I was when I was young.

A bit of a mouthful to say and really confronting to accept.

” I am not as creative as I once was” is something that I hear all the time from teachers who bemoan the the passing of time and it’s effect on our imaginations.

Sadly, for many, the “wax on, wax off” of teaching is what wears us down and stops us from seeing why we got into teaching in the first place. Oh those idealist days of changing the world, of unleashing the power of the next generation. That in itself was our imagination taking over. The reality may be the marking, the planning, the constant meetings took all the dreams away. And there , with the dimming of the lights of idealism is the distancing of ourselves from our creative glow. How dare we let imagination poke it’s naive head through into a world of crushing buracratic nightmares!

And worse! Now “they”, those that run education from afar, are demanding creativity and imagination. “They” are bringing all these devices and technology into the classrooms and asking, no, demanding that we unleash the creativity and imaginations of our young charges! What for? To build them up to be disappointed.

Well, no, I am not going there. In fact that’s not who I am as a teacher , never have been.

Imagination and the creativity that may go with it are two of the most lauded traits of many trades and teaching certainly needs more of both. However, the trade is nothing without craft. Craft comes from time, on the job, simply doing, and no amount of imagination or creativity can replace those hard earned years of simply doing.

Sure I worry that I am not as creative as I may once have felt I was but the years have also helped me leave go of putting pressure on myself.

Every year of teaching is a new opportunity to try just one new thing.

One new thing in planning, one new thing in classroom management, in marking and grading, in use of tech, in interactive and collaborative activities and so on in all the areas that a teacher needs to master.  All those one new things add up, over five years, ten years, twenty years, until one day someone says to you that you are a very creative teacher!

You can modestly say no, not really, but sometimes it is easier to go with that than to explain that it is craft .

After all, who are you to get in the way of what people imagine.


The messy bits.

imageSetting up new routines in a classroom does not always happen smoothly.

Many teachers biggest fear is losing control of what their learners are doing. Few things are more out of a teacher’s control than the moment they allow learners to disappear into their device/ smartphone when setting up a new app or user account for a new learning activity using technology. Compounding this “messy bit” are the moments of organised chaos that comes in a BYOD classroom that has ESL/ELL learners. The settings of the devices are in various languages and the icons are not always obvious to the teacher that is trying to trouble shoot for the students. Further to this is the anxiety of the learners, to be up and going, and their impatience at the seconds that it takes to download vital apps.

The best advice for teachers at this time is to take a chill pill, relax, the students will get to where you want them to go as long as you have asked them to find a bona fide web site or app. It just takes time. It seems an age but in reality it is just moments. In this age of super fast technology we sometimes,and often the students, expect the technology to be faster than it really is. If the teacher has modelled simply the stages of what is expected of the learner and the wifi set up is sound, it will happen. Simply be explicit when letting  the students know before the activity that it will take a minute.

As teachers we have to learn to let go and trust that our students are able to manage the simple procedures of setting up passwords for themselves. It is is up to us to let them know that these “messy bits”, these chaotic moments are normal, that we are comfortable with these “messy bits” and that after them we are able resume normal service.

In fact these messy bits have been times in my lessons where I have been able to identify students who are able to manage their devices more expertly than others and they often become my go to people, who help their classmates rather than it being about the all knowing teacher. This builds great relationships between the students and a more mature and trusting teaching environment with even the younger and most skittish of learners. It also frees up time for me to get the next stage of the lesson ready to roll out and therefore ensures a better flow to the lesson when normal services are resumed.

Sometimes there has to be a mess made before any learning is done!


First outing

WordPress blog.

First outing.

Tech is taking over for some and for others it doesn’t even register.

I often look at this graphic and tell myself where I want to be on the continuum and where I don’t want to be.