Flying ahead

16th November 2007 at 00:00
Time for learning is of the essence, says Sara Bubb.The Prime Minister wants a country with "no cap on ambition, no ceiling on hope, no limit to where your potential will take you and how far you can rise". It sounds like utopian rhetoric, but it got me thinking about some of the wonderful new teachers I see.

What marks them out is a refreshing "the sky's the limit" attitude. Even if things aren't quite like that now, by the summer many of you will be teaching lessons where the kids are really flying. But how can you reach this educational nirvana? Well, it can be in any classroom and any lesson if you make sure that no time for learning is lost.

This isn't just an inspiring motto but a phrase that can become your mantra. When kids take a while to settle down, they are cutting everyone's time for learning.

The concept of the self-fulfilling prophecy is powerful. If a girl feels that teachers think she has a tip-top scientific brain, she'll start to behave like she has one. If a boy believes everyone thinks he's a muppet, he'll act like one.

Don't linger on the weaknesses, but treat every child as a potential Mozart, Renoir or Einstein. Don't just put the kids who do best in the standard subjects on the gifted and talented register.

Open up your definitions of GT to include empathy, inquisitiveness, emotional intelligence, prediction, problem-solving, tenacity or even a sparky wackiness, and who knows what talents you'll tap? Raise the bar. You'll never know what children can do if you don't give them a chance to try. If you let everyone join in activities pitched at the most able, there'll be other kids who amaze you too.

Ask your pupils what they've learned today. Can everyone think of something? If it's a long list, it's been a day well-spent.

Gordon Brown wants a Britain where the talents of each contribute to the well-being and prosperity of all. Rise to the challenge.

Sara Bubb is an educational consultant specialising in induction. Her Successful Induction for New Teachers is published by Sage.

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