As my formal teaching career draws to a close, I’ve been reflecting on some wise words by Tom Hetherington. They were told to me at the start of my teaching career. Tom lectured at Wolverhampton Polytechnic on the Cert Ed course I studied. I felt a kinship when, on the first session, he sat down below a “No Smoking” sign, lit up a cigarette and invited us to do the same should we wish. He then proceeded to tell us the three golden rules of teaching which were:
- “Every teacher in English is a teacher of English”. It is a teacher’s duty to correct students so that they learn to communicate effectively. Fail to correct grammar, spelling and punctuation means you are failing your students.
- “There is no such thing as a special needs student”. Nowadays we would call them dyslexic, dyspraxia or whatever but Tom’s point was that we all learn in different ways and at different paces so it is the teacher’s duty to adapt their teaching style to match the students’ learning abilities.
- “Teaching is a social activity”. As in other social interactions some people will like you and your teaching style, most will be fairly neutral and a few will actively dislike you. This is normal so deal with it. It is the teacher’s duty to be true to themselves, their subject and their students.