There has been a lot of discussion on Twitter over the last few days about the elections for the Chartered College of Teaching council. Most of this discussion centers around who is, or who should be, able to stand and seems to stem back to the idea when the Council was founded that it would be “teacher led”. Some have pointed out that many of those who are standing for various roles are not classroom teachers. Michael Tidd has done an excellent job in producing a list showing the current role of those standing which you can see here.
This raises the question – who is a teacher?
Meeting a teacher is always strange. It is like we belong to a huge secret society. We have our own rituals and our own secret language that is all but indecipherable to an outsider. I met a retired teacher a few months ago. He had been a teacher for over 40 years and had the word teacher running through him like a stick of rock. He knew the mysteries of the staffroom and the pain of the break duty rota. He understood the feeling of a meeting at the end of a five period day and hadn’t forgotten the smell of the photocopy room. Like all teachers he knew what it was like to stand in front of a class of thirty children and keep their attention and pass on knowledge and understanding. He hadn’t been inside a classroom for 10 years but he was a teacher.
I wear the badge “teacher” with pride. I am proud to teach and to be part of this profession. I am happy at the chalkface. If in the future my teaching load decreases and and I spend more time working across the school, will I be less of a teacher? If I leave a school and start working in schools all over the country, will I not be doing so as a teacher? After years of hard graft, training and reflection on my craft will I not have earned that title?
I do recognise that there can sometimes be a gulf between teachers at the chalkface and those who have moved away from it. Those of us in classrooms are, I find, more pragmatic and have to deal with fine ideas on the ground. Those who move away seem more idealistic and may in time forget what it is like to actual put their ideas into practice.
For this reason I will be voting, where possible, for those who are still working in schools, and where possible, teaching a heavy load, to represent me on the council. I feel they are more likely to represent my needs and outlook. However, I will also be supporting Professor Samantha Twiselton, Director of the Sheffield Institute of Education, for the role of external vice president. She is someone who I would delighted to see lead the profession forward and someone who seems to have the word “teacher” emblazoned on her soul.
Ultimately, the Chartered College of Teaching will be teacher led. The members, who are teachers, will vote for who they want to be on their council. They will lead. When I came into teaching I didn’t feel that teachers had any voice at all. With the rise of twitter, blogging, education conferences and our voices increasingly given a platform in publications like TES, I feel things moving in the right direction. The Chartered College is new and may not achieve its goals over night but it feels like not just a step in the right direction but a pretty good stride that way too.
NB: As I was finishing writing, this post from Tom Sherrington popped into my feed. Great mind’s Tom 🙂