The seven deadly sins of teaching: envy – 'We can’t all be Ms Perfect'
I work at a good primary school with a philosophy of providing the best learning outcomes for all pupils. The staff are committed to working in a mutually supportive way, and the principle of sharing good practice is at the very heart of all our CPD and training. We can say categorically: there is no place for envy here.
“The best way to improve our teaching is to learn from those around us,” the headteacher explains. “We all have strengths we can share with others. And many of you have a weakness that should be addressed before my next round of lesson observations.”
Watching other teachers has taught me many things, but the most valuable lesson has been that I’m not too bad at my job. Unfortunately, this belief has been undermined by the one person our leader encourages us all to observe.
Witnessing Ms Perfect’s mastery of the art of classroom teaching has relegated my self-esteem to the lower leagues. I apply the same strategies she uses to establish effective learning and I’m just as meticulous in using rewards and sanctions. So why don’t my pupils, like hers, fall silent at a single word and hang on every one that follows?
The truth is that Ms Perfect is no mere mortal. Imagine, if you will, a team of hard-working professional footballers playing week in, week out in the Championship. They train every day and give their all for 90 minutes on a Saturday afternoon. Then one day their manager sends them to Barcelona’s Camp Nou to watch Lionel Messi and tells them: “Next week, lads, I want you to play just like that.”
There are approximately half a million teachers plying their trade in state schools in England, and although most of us strive to be the best we can, we can’t all be Ms Perfect. We can’t all glide effortlessly through every lesson like a swan, leaving ripples of inspired learning in our wake. There will be times when kicking, splashing and general floundering are the only ways to keep our heads above water.
So I ask you, can it be a sin on days like this to look upon Ms Perfect with envy? To think jealous thoughts about her? To mutter peevish words under our breath? Surely not. Give us that, at least.