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☰ Positive Relationships

Head's Blog

Positive Relationships

Posted on September 15 2017

There is a popular theory in education: that making teachers more qualified will make them better in the classroom. Too few people ever stop to ask, do increased qualifications actually create better teachers? Personally, I doubt it. It made me think though about the children and what they would say about the whole recruitment process.

Last term we were recruiting staff for September, so I took time out to talk in-depth with my student council at Forest Park about what "qualifications" they saw as the most important attributes to find at the front of their classrooms. Unsurprisingly, all the children wanted a positive relationship with the teacher. In fact, they thought this was essential. They also talked of those teachers who made them work harder, and how they achieved this, and those who didn't.

In fact, the children at Forest Park had very clear, and very similar, views on what a good teacher looks and sounds like.

What children want from a teacher

A good teacher, according to my pupils, is someone who...

… is friendly towards them and their peers. In fact, there was an expectation that individuals should feel special in the presence of the teacher;

… recognises that learning is important but that it also can be hard sometimes. So the teacher should always take the time to ensure that the class know what is expected of them;

… genuinely cares about every child, and wants to be involved in all their individual successes and failures;

… is always enthusiastic about all aspects of school;

… actually notices when individuals try their best, and encourages them when things get tough;

… truly respects the fact that every child is different;

… makes every aspect of learning and class time exciting.

How perceptive these children are. Do we as leaders have the same aspirations? Too often in education I think the answer is no, but it is certainly something we hold dear at Forest Park. We see building positive relationships with our pupils as a key priority, it is the first thing staff have worked to achieve during our first week of the new academic year. As without a positive relationship between pupils and teachers, no real learning can take place.

The most important question to ask future teachers

I sometimes wonder whether educationalists have lost sight of the fact that we are a people-based profession and that at its core it is relationship-building. How often do you see incredibly organised individuals who simply cannot relate to others? And in an era of a fairly profound teacher recruitment crisis, many schools even find themselves in danger of appointing staff who do not want to be teachers, just to put a body in front of the class!

The first, and ultimately the most important, question we should ask ourselves at the interview stage is whether the candidate actually likes children. Is the person in front of us someone who can get into the minds of the child? Can they forge positive relationships and create an inclusive, welcoming atmosphere to facilitate learning? As well as setting challenging and exciting lessons and assignments, will they utilise the child's most precious gift – their imagination?

We’re fortunate that at Forest Park we appoint teachers using these important criteria, because we know our children will be in very safe hands. It is why we continue to improve, year on year, and why our teaching and learning prospers in every form.

Nick Tucker

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