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Edutwitter – we need to bring the joy back to teaching

Despite the struggles, let’s say goodbye to social media negativity, says Bethan Harding…

Bethan Harding
by Bethan Harding
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As teachers, we are always setting goals: for ourselves, our school, our class or individual pupils. But are you more scared or excited by the goals you’re setting? We need to get the balance right.   

Recently, I have been saddened by the number of social media messages I have read that portray a fear factor. As a profession, we don’t seem to have the balance right, at all.

One of the messages read: ‘What is best thing about being a teacher? Answer: August.’ While I see the funny side, quotes like this give a constant, subtle message of discontent about the job – and the life – we have chosen.    

The old adage goes, ‘A goal should scare you a little…’. Of course it should. If it doesn’t, it may not be challenging enough.

We all know the feeling when we go for an interview or stand at the start line of a race; those ‘butterflies’ are a good, healthy fear that drives us to give our best and focus on doing everything we can to achieve.     

But as soon as we tip the balance too far, the fear overwhelms us and takes over.

We are overcome with negative thoughts that are then played out in our words and actions. But it doesn’t have to be this way.    

A goal should scare us a little, yes, but it should also excite us a lot.     

Ask yourself, very honestly, if you are excited by the goals you have set. If not, it’s highly likely that others (colleagues, parents, students) will not be excited by them either.

Without question, we all want to do the best job possible. So, what do we need to consider when it comes to feeling more ‘excited’ about our goals?    

EXCITE yourself!   

  • Expert – be confident in your ability. Remember you are the expert. You have been put in this privileged position to teach and have so much to offer. Embrace it and get excited about your role.    
  • Expectations – you can only get genuinely excited by goals that are ambitious. Have high expectations. When watching the Olympics you see that coming first (the hardest challenge) leads to far greater excitement from the runner and everyone around than coming fifth. Your expectations need to be high enough that everyone will want to celebrate like the runner getting gold!  
  • Collaborate – excitement grows when others around you feel the same. Work with others to set your goals. Set aside quality time together. Question, challenge, reflect, reword… repeat, repeat, repeat.  
  • Inspired – look at others who have been there and done it. Be inspired by those who have gone before you and achieved great things. Read, follow the latest research and unfollow those who fill your head and heart with negativity about the profession. How often do you get excited and inspired by others and by what you read? Do you need to commit more time to this?   
  • Tweak – when agreed, your goals should remain the same but the road to get there may have to be reviewed and actions changed. If you continue with an action that is clearly having little impact, the negativity at all levels will soon kick in and hoover up all the excitement. Accept, before you start, that tweaks will be part of the journey.   
  • Empower – consider if your goals will go on to empower others. If you set the goal correctly, it is not just about arriving at the destination, but it is about creating a platform to build on. A goal will really excite you when it empowers those that pursue it, and is seen as part of a far bigger picture.    

The great thing about EXCITE is that it leads to action. Be confident in your expertise, have high expectations, collaborate, be inspired, accept tweaks and look to empower. 

Considering this framework will help spur you on to take action that achieves goals and even celebrates them!     

‘A goal should scare you a little and excite you a lot.’  

Is this true for you? 

Bethan has been a headteacher of an outstanding primary school in Wales and a principal in an excellent all-through school in England. She is co-founder of Winning with Numbers, providing a maths curriculum and learning platform.

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