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Badge of honour

Advice for seasoned practitioners

The sun comes up and the sun goes down,

The hands on the clock keep going around,

I just get up and it's time to lay down,

Life gets tedious, don't it?

Remember that old song by Carson Robison? Why should you? It was recorded in 1948. Life was tedious then all right. You'd better believe it.

If not the song, you may know the feeling.JAny job, teaching included, can start to drag when you've done it week in, week out for 10, 15, 20 years.

I remember someone doing a "seven ages of teaching" sketch when we were at college. He started off prancing about the room, and progressed in stages to writing notes on the blackboard. Finally, he sat with his head in hands at a desk droning, "Turn to page 35 and do numbers one to 78."

The problem is that today's teaching is so closely planned from above that the rigidity and tediousness seems to seep into the bones of the teachers, making them sadly unsure of themselves. That's a shame, because for me the title teacher is a proud one, a lifetime badge of honour that brings with it confidence and a sense of real achievement.

If it's not like that for you just now, one way, it seems to me, is to follow the example of all the athletes lifting their hopes and spirits by making plans for 2012. For a teacher, it means just asking yourself where you'll be in your career and your personal life when you settle down to watch the opening ceremony of the London Olympics on July 27, 2012. Well into a second headship? Self-employed as a furniture-maker? Single again and living in the Dordogne? Just grateful to be still around?

You can start planning for each one of these right now. (Even for the last one, where it's a question of thinking about your lifestyle.) What that means is that from now on you consider every major decision in your life (or lives, if you're doing this with a partner) in light of your 2012 goal, and you try not to do anything that takes you away from it.

Sometimes you'll miss out on short-term targets - good moves in life don't always bring more money for example - but with luck you'll start to feel that the hands on the clock are going around to some purpose.

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