Take note of the young ones

13th April 2007 at 01:00
Penny Ward teaches at Carnoustie High

Notes on a Scandal was a fantastic film. I did, of course, have a bit of trouble coming to terms with Judi Dench as a baddie, but thought Cate Blanchett gave a convincing performance as a young teacher who got it badly wrong.

By contrast, we are spectacularly lucky with the young teachers in our school. Once upon a time, it wasn't hard to get into teacher training.

Nowadays, young hopefuls face a stringent interview. Wanting to be a teacher isn't enough: they need to demonstrate not just a desire to work with children, but all the qualities that will ensure they do it well.

The training has to be better than we got too, because these young people are good. They are intelligent, hard working and they have so much energy.

I never fail to be impressed when I watch them teach. Even the quality of their questioning is intuitively good; not only that, they can work a whiteboard too.

It's like the young kid who stopped me the other day, dressed in a police uniform and driving a very flashy car, or the young doctor I saw last time I was at the clinic. It's proof that I'm getting older that they are getting younger.

But I'm quite amused that it wouldn't occur to these young teachers to expect silence in a classroom, and why would they? They were at school themselves only five or six years ago. And they wear dead trendy clothes as well.

Of course, the young ones sometimes get it wrong with the pupils, but so do the more established staff. They get tired, but not as tired as the old ones; and they get disillusioned, but not as disillusioned as the grey generation. We still have to be ready to step in with help whenever we suspect it is needed.

I think, too, that we are careless about rewarding these younger teachers.

Do we tell them how well they are doing? We perhaps wrongly assume that our young colleagues feel appreciated. Maybe they look more confident than they feel, and that behind their smiles lies some anxiety. So they should be frequently complimented on the excellent work they are doing .

Anyway, we can relax into our old age. Our pupils are in good, safe hands after we go.

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