Learning to teach: making sense of learning to teach
Learning to teach: making sense of learning to teach

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Learning to teach: making sense of learning to teach


This course has highlighted differences in perception about the nature of ITE by exploring different paradigms and approaches that underpin different beliefs about the role of ITE and the role of student teachers as active participants within it.

It then considered how this has manifest itself in the plethora of different routes into teaching in the UK. It concluded by examining research into how student teachers perceive they best learn during ITE courses.

Central to this course is the question ‘What type of teachers do we want in our schools?’. It is clear that there is not a single shared vision within the field, the profession or at government level that can answer this question. Maybe the question ought to be addressed to those who can influence the outcome, the student teachers, by asking: ‘What sort of teacher do you want and what experiences will best support you to achieve this?’

Activity 6: Characteristics of a good teacher

Listen to the clip of Tom, Mark and Sid talking about their school days.

Download this audio clip.Audio player: Audio 3
Skip transcript: Audio 3

Transcript: Audio 3

Author and broadcaster Tom Holland, the actor Mark Williams and children’s television presenter Sid Sloane recall their school days and the teachers that inspired them.
Tom Holland:
I remember all sort of teachers that got me through exams, who gave me the information that I needed to do well in lessons and then to get qualifications; but the ones that really live in my memory are those who lit the touch-paper of enthusiasm and excitement, that transcend the objective requirements of the curriculum. The fact that they demonstrated that what you were studying in a classroom wasn’t just something to be got through, wasn’t just something to be slogged through, wasn’t even something to be learned so you could get a qualification: it was something that had fascination in its own right.
Mark Williams:
The better the character the better the teacher, I think; because the more complex and interesting you are, the more intriguing you are to children who haven’t met anybody like you. And if you’re yourself it’s much more proof against people playing you up than if you’re not, because in the end they’ve got to give in ‘cause they want to know and if they don’t want to know then you’re on a losing battle aren’t you – there’s no point. But the ones that want to know are going like ‘why did you say that?’
Sid Sloane:
My favourite teachers were Miss Earnham, my English teacher, and Mr. Wilson my Sports teacher; also, Mr. McKenna, my History teacher. And the reason why they were my favourite teachers was because they took the time to have a conversation with me on my level. I just felt like they had recognised a potential within me and wanted to help me to draw it out of myself. So they weren’t saying ‘you need to be this, you have to be that, you should be this,’ they were saying ‘you know what, you have a whole lot of potential and you can do more. And why don’t you ask that of yourself? And I believe in you.’ That's what made them my favourite teachers.
Tom Holland:
I didn’t greatly enjoy school, but I do have a debt of gratitude to certain teachers, of whom one in particular set me on the career that I now follow. And he was called Major Morris and his day job was to teach us History, that’s what he was meant to do; but his idea of teaching was basically to elaborate on shaggy dog stories – that was his lesson plan and he could always be persuaded to go off on a tangent. So, he was very interested in Greek Mythology and he told me the whole story of the Odyssey. He was just a man in love with his subject and that love was not going to be contained within the dykes of the conventional curriculum. And I don’t know now whether that would rank as a quality to be praised in a teacher, but I certainly felt that it was, but it gave me a passion for History that I have never lost since.
Mark Williams:
I remember school as getting better and better – was how I remember it. As a young child I didn’t really like school, I was often bored. The thing that I was most interested in was learning, and it depended on who was best at generating that enthusiasm. I remember we had a teacher who was a very conventional teacher, in the sense that he smoked a pipe and wore a sports jacket, but he was funny. And he used to do stuff that shook you a bit; like when Bob Beamon broke the 1968 long jump record; he chalked it out on the playground – which was quite radical then – and we went out and there was like 28' 6'' and it was just like unbelievable. He was good.
Sid Sloane:
Teachers are very integral to a child’s life. When I went home from school I went home with what happened during my day at school, and I talked to my mum. And my mum, who raised five children on her own, didn’t have much time to listen – if she was there at all –, because my mum was out at work all day. And there are lots of families like that, single parent families, they just haven’t got time because they’ve got to go to work or whatever. And I have to say I had a really good time at school: I was head prefect, I was made pupil of the year in my third year when I was about 13. But I left school without any qualifications. At the age of 15 something inside me snapped and I went: ‘I’m going to be a rebel.’ and I just decided overnight ‘I'm going to be a rebel and I'm going to go and hang with the rebel kids’ and that’s what I did. And then I started playing truant and I started not going to school and I started thinking about my exams and thinking ‘well, who cares? I don't need them.’ The whole school system lost value and I slipped through the net. And I think I missed out on that part, that final stage, of my education because I probably would have gone on to college and then maybe on to university, who knows?
Mark Williams:
I think that one of the essences of good teaching is the same as good acting – is you’ve got to have some politics with a small ‘p’. You’ve got to know where you’re going. You need to aim. You don’t have to tell everybody all the time, but it’s a good idea in your mind to know where you’re heading. Where you want them to be. What you want for them and, by association, for you. What are you saying? If you know, it will sing.
Sid Sloane:
The most effective type of teaching is when you actually speak to the individual in the group. And I think that was the great thing about the teaching that I was motivated by was I felt like I was being spoken to as an individual. And also, and this is the great thing, when I’m in a group and I feel like everybody else is being spoken to as individuals it adds extra value to what I’ve been told about me. It’s about positivity, it’s about inspiration and trying not to make kids feel like they’re going to achieve much, cause I believe kids are potentially able to achieve whatever they want and I truly believe that.
End transcript: Audio 3
Audio 3
Interactive feature not available in single page view (see it in standard view).

As you listen, make a list of what they consider to be the characteristics of a good teacher.

Are good teachers born or made? Reflect on this question in the light of the list that you have made.

What qualities do you bring to teaching, and which will you/did you need to learn? In the light of what you have read in this course, how best can these things be learnt?


Clearly, the different skills might be learned in different ways and much will depend on the skills, experience and attributes that a student already has. There will be times when students learn by copying what experienced teachers do, there will be times when they want to try new and novel things, and there will be times when they feel as if nothing is working. One of the purposes of an ITE course is to provide students with the tools to get through those times so that they emerge as better and more effective teachers.


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