Selling teacher recruitment on WOW moments is a lie – Inspirational teaching takes patience and perseverance

 I now get to look at some wonderfully fresh-faced teachers talking about how awesome teaching is. Adam Boxer, chemistry teacher and head of KS3 science writes in Teachwire.

We hear about impact, making a difference, changing children’s lives and so on and so forth. About the chance to have those deep, meaningful conversations with disaffected and itinerant youths that cause them to miraculously turn their behaviour around overnight.

If you’re looking to see inspired and wide-eyed children dazzled by your brilliance, you are looking for the wrong thing.

Inspiration doesn’t last. If our lives are to change it isn’t the ‘Big Moments’ which will make those changes. It is the steady action of many different events spread over time.

We might look back on ourselves over the course of one year or five years or a decade and look at how much we have changed. But it is unlikely to be the result of any one instant or event.
It is more likely to be the result of hundreds of small events and influences; like water crashing against a cliff face, the effect of each wave cannot be perceived. But when we take a step back to see the broader picture, the change is there.

Teaching is exactly the same. Teaching is not about creating “inspirational moments”. It is not about encouraging your students to stand on their tables and declare “oh captain my captain!”

Those events might make you feel good, but they are transient and ephemeral.

And you know what? To me, and I suspect to many other teachers, that is what inspirational means. Not the glamorous excitement of setting fire to things or dressing up as a 16th-century peasant and reading Hamlet to enraptured children.

Inspirational is about perseverance, dedication, and relentless ambition driven by the power of the incremental improvement. You don’t need to be charismatic. You don’t need to be “inspirational” in the conventional sense.

You just need to be willing to put your shoulder to the staggeringly difficult job of making incremental long-term change.