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How to...maintain your credibility

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Arrive in style. Nothing impresses pupils quite as much as their teacher arriving on a motorcycle - preferably with the speakers blaring out Born To Be Wild.

Dress to impressexpressdistress (delete as appropriate) Do you really want to look like your old maths master? A suit and tie? What was he thinking? The man was practically made of chalk. He had lost you before he even opened his mouth.

No, a nice leather jacket screams good taste. Or some kind of loud, garish shirt that says, "I should be on children's TV." Careful with the colour though - a shade too bright and you could psychologically scar those pupils for life. Impressionable minds can only take so much orange. Remember not to take it the other way and wear all black - Halloween is a long way off.

Share their interests

You are not completely ancient. You buy CDs, occasionally. You go to gigs.

Well, you watch the Jools Holland show. If you are a bit out of touch, mug up on the latest bands and crowbar them into your lesson. Deliberate errors like, "Of course, Charles Dickens was very much the Slimboy Fats of his day." They will never forget it. Remember how impressive Sir Menzies Campbell was, talking about the Arctic Monkeys on Newsnight?

Talk about your out-of-school activities

Perhaps even invite them to watch you compete in your local jet-skiing championships. If it's fast and wet, they won't forget.

Above all, be yourself

Only not too much. Because pupils can smell fear

Stephen Manning

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