Katy Hall, a tutor at Laidlaw Education, west London's most established provider of face-to-face private tuition and academic support, writes about how pupils and teachers can and should adapt to the changes brought on by a new school year...
Every September children across the country prepare to face one inescapable experience. Something which they will continually experience year after year. Each of these children has this experience in common when it comes to their education – the new. Whether it be a new school, new class, new teacher or indeed all of the aforementioned, when it comes to schools, change is inevitable. But how much change is the right amount?
The concept of change in any context is one which is surrounded by varying opinions. For some, the idea of something new is seen as exciting and fresh however for others, with change can come anxiety, uncertainty and a general feeling of dread. In a school environment new is something which is both necessary and yet at times reluctantly received. But how can schools manage the difficult task of getting the balance of old and new just right in order to ensure that the learning experience of the pupils remains paramount?
It would appear vital for children both educationally and socially that they are exposed to different teaching styles and a broad spectrum of personalities throughout their academic career.
In the case of new teachers this mixed sentiment towards change is more prevalent than ever. Good relationships between pupils and teachers take time to build and at the end of the school year when pupils face the challenge of moving into new classes and building relationships with new teachers it can be distressing for them. This is particularly so for younger pupils and especially with primary pupils who have the same teacher for the entire year. However some pupils actively look forward to the experience of a fresh start and getting to know a new teacher. Taking into account each of these factors it would appear vital for children both educationally and socially that they are exposed to different teaching styles and a broad spectrum of personalities throughout their academic career.
The time that it takes for secondary pupils to feel comfortable with new teachers is even longer and the effect of a teacher’s sudden departure can be damaging. One Year Ten pupil who I have tutored throughout the last academic year explained her woes to me about the fact that she had been exposed to three different substitute teachers in her first year of GCSEs due to her English teacher leaving at Christmas. The school had been unable to appoint a permanent replacement and due to this she felt that her work had been impacted. New teachers face the challenge of earning the respect of the pupils and this is not always an easy task. When pupils have built bonds with class teachers and then those bonds are broken through teachers leaving schools they can feel disappointed. Of course a teacher moving is unavoidable but indeed the point in an academic year that a teacher chooses to leave a school can have a significant effect on pupils. One Year Eleven class at my previous school were so disturbed by the notion of their teacher’s departure in the final term of Year 11, leaving them to face the difficult transition of getting to know a new teacher at such a late stage of the year that it resulted in some experiencing complete disengagement. Many former colleagues have admitted that they feel it would be unprofessional and indeed would not consider leaving a school midyear if they taught exam classes.
From teachers creating new lessons and resources to the introduction of new teaching styles to engage their classes, change can be inspirational.
However in some areas of school life the new is not only inevitable but also necessary. Schools can only improve by changing or they will stand still and fall behind those around them. From teachers creating new lessons and resources to the introduction of new teaching styles to engage their classes, change can be inspirational. The introduction of a new Head Teacher can revive a school as they bring with them fresh perspectives and ideas and despite some inevitable resistance from staff, parents and pupils if the experience with a past Head Teacher has been particularly rewarding, ultimately change is what schools need and they wouldn’t be where they are today without it. Some of these changes have proved to be invaluable for some of the most vulnerable pupils within schools. If we cast our minds back to many years ago, before dyslexia had become recognised as a specific learning difficulty, those pupils suffering from the condition were simply labelled as slow or academically less able. Without the new research enabling educational professionals to diagnose and more importantly support dyslexic pupils, thousands of children would have slipped through the educational net.
Teachers and other employees within schools need to try new things and also not be afraid of failure in order to ultimately achieve success. Whilst too much of the new can displace the balance within a school, too little can leave it stale and falling behind others around it. They key to introducing the new is to get the balance right.
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