Shout about what makes you happy sad or mad... Why a teaching persona is important

28th November 2008 at 00:00

For those of us who endured a teacher training course in our early twenties, it felt as though we were being mocked.

Our university tutors were demanding that we raise the standard of education, while our mentors in school were more concerned with stopping Johnny from hitting his classmates with a chair.

But these contradictory sets of values were not the most significant flaw in the teacher training experience - it was the fact that the role of the teaching persona was practically ignored.

Personal presence cannot be endowed in a candlelit ceremony during your PGCE, but some pointers would not go amiss.

I've known several teachers who were attached to the "don't smile till Christmas" method. Others prefer to adopt the slightly edgy, but still cool, older sibling attitude.

I'm a fan of power dressing. Before you think of shoulder pads, relax. Power dressing as part of a teaching persona need not reflect any particular style. But being consistently well turned out is helpful in several ways, not least in that it gives you a leg to stand on while insisting that pupils wear their ties.

When we were at school, most of us had teachers who could be worked up into an incoherent, roaring lather. One way to avoid morphing into said teacher is to aim for a level of emotional detachment.

We are at our most effective when we are consistent. A distinct teaching persona means you can avoid taking that unflattering caricature scrawled in the back of a textbook too personally, thus limiting the number of calls to our parents to reassure ourselves that we are in fact loved.

Teacher training programmes should dedicate modules to the acting skills required to display disappointmentshockanger at pupils' behaviour, without actually absorbing such feelings.

Kindra Doyle is inclusion curriculum development co-ordinator at Raine's Foundation School in east London.

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