I’ve got to put the spotlight on two brilliant teachers. I can’t pick between them so you’ll have to forgive me for including them both. The key word that links them, despite teaching me many years apart, is transition.
My Year 3 teacher at Cassiobury Junior School was Mrs Brewer. My memory of the school, though hazy, is generally a very fond one. I’m still friends with many of the people I met there and I think a huge part of that comes down to her and how she welcomed us.
I think Mrs Brewer understood that arriving into a new school can be daunting for children. She set about making sure that we weren’t overwhelmed by it all. She knew how to get us to settle and, ultimately, to thrive.
You hear stories sometimes of kids being intimidated about going to a new school, but Mrs Brewer wouldn’t have that. It was kindness and caring from day one. She was an absolute master of helping you to relax in the short term, then fulfil your potential in the long term.
I reckon this came down to experience. She was slightly older lady who had been at the school for a long time and I think she picked this skill up. She instilled in us the fundamentals of what it means to be a good person. To do that to kids of such a young ages is pivotal, I believe, to who they grow up to be.
Funnily enough, I’ve been back to Cassiobury School recently, to give nine- and 10-year-olds a cricket-related maths lesson with the charity Chance to Shine. Sadly, Mrs Brewer wasn’t there. I assume that she has retired.
In my senior school – Parmiter’s, it was called – I had an English teacher and form tutor called Mr Biggs, who was also super-influential. It was a tough time for me, because I had to focus on my studies, but I was already playing for Middlesex. So, I had full-time work as a cricket player to juggle on top of A levels.
It was another transitionary period in my life and Mr Biggs was key in helping me get through it. He was a Middlesex Cricket Club member, so he straddled both my education and my work. He understood my vested interest in both and made himself central to keeping on top of them. He helped steer my transition from student to professional cricketer.
Mr Biggs insured that I had a solid education, just in case cricket didn’t work out. He instilled in me the desire to do well at A level, because cricket wasn’t a forgone conclusion. He made sure I did everything to the best of my ability and I’m pretty sure that’s something that I still have in me today. I have the drive to try do whatever it is I’m doing really well.
He had a great rapport with all of the students – and I think I know exactly how he did it. You could speak to him as a friend as well as a teacher. He had that authority about him to whip you back in to line if you needed it, but he could also talk to you on your level. That’s one hell of skill for a teacher: to nail that balance between rapport and authority. He got it just right.
He treated us like adults. When you’re 16, that means quite a lot to you. It’s a breath of fresh air.
The Chance to Shine charity has developed free digital cricket resources for primary schools available at chancetoshine.org. All schools who register before 9 February will have a chance to win a visit from an England cricketer. Steven Finn was talking to Tom Cullen