Having it all

13th December 1996 at 00:00
Gerald Haigh's article "In the natural order of things" (TES, November 29) points to what could be a potentially fruitful exercise in raising standards. Most of us already know, when it comes to classroom control, that some teachers "have it" while others do not. Many would also agree that if all teachers "had it" much of the Pounds 24 million currently being spent on exclusions could be used more productively. All that we need to know is what those who "have it" actually have.

The article touched on some of the qualities which those who "had it" thought they had: a sense of self-belief, a calm approach, respect for children, firmness tempered with kindness, fairness and the ability to use eye-contact effectively. Perhaps a sense of humour should have been added to the list. Like Kate Abbot, I too am 5ft 3in, and when I stood up in the dining room as a young teacher, eager to establish order on my first day in a new school, I was immediately ordered to "sit" by a dinner lady who mistook me for a pupil. A sense of humour, for me, was an essential ingredient for someone aspiring to be one of those who "had it".

As your article showed, much can be learned from those who already "have it" and if, by observing them, a list of attributes necessary for successful teaching were to be identified and compiled, all teachers would know what to aim for and all students would know what to look for and emulate. No doubt there would always be some who would never "have it", but at least they would know what it was that they did not have.

ALAN MILLARD 8 Medina Court, Marine Parade West, Lee-on-the-Solent, Hampshire

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