How do you want your pupils to re­mem­ber you?

TES (Times Education Supplement) - - SEND FOCUS -

SPORTS DAYS, assem­blies, pro­duc­tions, ac­tiv­ity weeks: the list of hur­dles over which the tired teacher and their equally tired charges must ne­go­ti­ate be­fore sum­mer is long and ar­du­ous. The temp­ta­tion to stick on a DVD and get the dis­plays down and the new back­ing paper up so that you don’t have to come in to do it in the hol­i­days is strong. The sum­mer break shim­mers like a mi­rage, tan­ta­lis­ingly out of reach, its in­evitabil­ity just around the cor­ner.

And now you have made it. When it fi­nally ar­rives, we sink into the va­ca­tion with a sigh of re­lief. Af­ter the first cou­ple of days (weeks?) of be­ing ill and/or un­der the weather, our un­bur­dened selves re­turn, and we do our best to leave school – and school chil­dren – be­hind for a while, to rest and re­lax so that we can re­turn re­freshed in Septem­ber.

I would en­cour­age you, how­ever, to pause for a mo­ment of re­flec­tion be­fore plung­ing into the sum­mer and what­ever de­lights that holds for you. I would ask you to think about those stu­dents with SEND who have been through your class­rooms this year, and think, af­ter all the re­ports have been filed, about the way that you will be re­mem­bered. To teach is a priv­i­lege, it is a great re­spon­si­bil­ity; I won­der, if they had the chance, what would your SEND stu­dents write about you?

Would they know who you are? Or would they have much greater mem­o­ries of the TA who sat next to them and whis­pered in their ear all year? Would they re­mem­ber be­ing in your class, or would the cor­ri­dor hold greater sig­nif­i­cance for them?

When they think of your class, do you imag­ine they as­so­ciate it with joy – or with fear? Will they re­mem­ber you for the ex­cit­ing and in­ter­est­ing things they did, or will they, like the lady in her eight­ies who I met on the train the other day, still re­mem­ber your name for the way you held up their work in front of the class and made fun of them, hu­mil­i­ated them?

Per­haps think­ing about what they would say about us might help us to con­sider our own re­ports and con­struct them with kindness. Be­cause what we say is re­mem­bered and the ef­fects of our words can rip­ple on for years. Nancy Gedge is a con­sul­tant teacher for the char­ity the Driver Youth Trust, work­ing with school and teach­ers on SEND. She is the Tes SEND spe­cial­ist, and author of In­clu­sion for Pri­mary Teach­ers

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