Our relationships with the places we live in, affect our quality of life…

Since January, Social Life has been working in Brixton in South London, convening conversations about the future of narrow strip of land on Somerleyton Road. The road is close to the centre of the town, but feels markedly cut off by three railway lines, and by the design and layout of streets and buildings. Earlier this year, Lambeth Council made a commitment to work with the local community to develop new plans for the site. Since then, the council have been meeting regularly with Brixton Green, a mutual organisation set up to campaign for a better way of developing Somerleyton Road, and Ovalhouse , a well regarded and long established community-based theatre, which plans to move to the top end of the road, where it joins Coldharbour Lane. Continue reading Our relationships with the places we live in, affect our quality of life…

Teachers should be committed to becoming excellent people…

Relationships are at the heart of teaching.  Although successful teaching involves effective planning and marking, I believe it is the relationships teachers build with their students that are fundamental to inspire learning and make lessons enjoyable.  Without positive relationships, behaviour management relies upon sanctions and rewards, which are useful to an extent, but do not foster independent, intrinsically motivated learners – which I believe is the Holy Grail of education.

As I type this, I’m listening to one of our Behaviour and Attendance Managers talking to a disruptive student in the corridor – and I’m inspired by her calm, and caring approach to dealing with a student who has serious behaviour problems.  She is winning a tricky battle, using her emotional intelligence, maintaing professionalism, but not losing her personality.  Some educationalists would like to remove personality from the profession, arguing if we master effective pedagogy only, we will become outstanding teachers (and I also believe pedagogy is of paramount importance).  However, sustainable high-level teaching is built upon emotionally intelligent, motivated and flourishing teachers who actually like (or dare I say ‘love’) students.

Stressed out workaholics are not good role models for children and young adults.  Passionate and emotionally intelligent learners are.  Sadly teacher-training in this country is very intensive, and is mainly learnt on the job.  Although this may be the best place to learn the mechanics of teaching, I believe more time needs to be invested into helping teachers build positive relationships with students, colleagues and parents (and their own families).  This may involve teachers engaging with counseling and learning more about psychology during their training.  It should certainly be centred on helping teachers grow as emotionally intelligent and flourishing individuals.  I believe that the relationships I have with my family, friends and colleagues spill over into the classroom (for good and for bad).  People respond to people – so teachers should be committed to becoming excellent people.  And excellent people have healthy relationships.  I’ve got a lot of work to do ( and some marking too).

Robin Parmiter is a teacher at Huntington School in York.