Why shouldn’t I be a teacher?

So peace, stay off my back
Or I will attack and you don’t want that.

The Power – Snap

So a couple of weeks ago I woke up to find myself tagged in a retweet to this…

As a former member of the armed forces I took great offence with the originator of the tweet and tried to engage in some sensible discourse. This led me on to thinking about my route into teaching (somewhat circuitous after 24 years in the RAF) and how my previous career affected my classroom practice. So stand by your beds, pin back your lugs, pull up a sandbag (other military idioms available on request) and read on.

One of the things I was taught to do was critically evaluate the situation I am in. Quickly. In the classroom this translates well; teachers are constantly making judgement calls and decisions based in events unfolding around them. This I see as a strength for any teacher.

Secondly I was taught that all members of a team add value in some way. Again, parallels in education where the leadership must build relationships and play to the strengths of the individual (anyone who knows me would suggest putting me in a Y1 class is neither big, or indeed clever!).

Next was flexibility. In fact, in some doctrinal publications, flexibility is quoted as the “key to modern air power”. So what of flexibility in the classroom? Well the ability to change plans on the hoof, deal with the no notice visitor, the IWB failing or simply the weather outside when in break duty is displaying flexibility all the time.

Discipline. Not the shouty, Sergeant Major type discipline but self discipline. Teachers are busy people, people who have to get a lot of things done to sometimes tight deadlines. Self discipline ensures that these things get done, on time, every time. Self discipline drives us to be the best we can be in the classroom.

Leadership is the next instalment. The military encourages leadership from early days in a career. Again it’s not all about the shooting but about how we build relationships and mutual trust so that leadership and followership are second nature. It’s also imperative to be able to question leadership; more importantly it is incredibly wise to know when to question leadership – in the middle of a lesson observation/firefight* (delete as appropriate) is not that time.

Finally, who has the right to question my suitability to be a teacher? I have the same qualifications as a teacher, have completed the same training as a teacher (more classroom exposure than some methods if ITT) and have met the same teaching standards as you all.

So maybe, just maybe, instead of decrying my previous career choices, thank me for making the jump to education and jumping through all the hoops that are out in my way as I try to prove myself your equal.

Maybe though I just want to be thought of as a teacher who used to be in the military…


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