Being an introverted educator.

For the last 10 years I have been an educator. Many would call me a teacher, or more specifically a teacher of Psychology. I would argue that the term educator fits my personality and experiences much more accurately.

I enjoyed my primary years, a whirlwind of carpet time, playing ‘elastic’ in the playground, making dens in the dirt between the 50 feet high fir trees and unconditional positive regard from my early teachers. I also met my closest friend, my rock throughout the difficult and awkward teenage years.  These people who educated me in my early years still speak to me and ask of my journey when they see me in our rural Cotswold town. I felt deeply rooted to my local community. 

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That somehow all changed when I progressed to ‘top school’. Secondary education was an eye opener for me, painfully shy and conscientious, barely 11 (August birthday) as I walked through the bottle-green gates that first day, a cornucopia of information thrown at you in that ‘welcome’ assembly. I still enjoyed school, but it was so different. I felt that no-one, not my personal tutor, or any of my teachers really knew me. I don’t blame them, they had hundreds of names to remember and curricula to deliver. My reports were always the same, ‘Sarah is a conscientious pupil….’. They may as well have written ‘who is this child?’ on my report. I was not an exceptional child, nor was I one of the 3 children in my year whose parents were teachers there, my behaviour was good and I made good progress. I must have been one of the forgotten middle kids. 

As a educator, I don’t want any of my students to feel like I did then,the teacher not knowing their name, feeling that the teacher underestimated their ability or their effort. An anonymous child. I want to be someone that a student can see as an unchanging feature in their 6th form education. A lighthouse, someone you come to when you are stuck on rough seas, and need a bit of light to see the journey ahead. They still sail their own boat, but I help to light their way.  

Teaching involves delivering a syllabus to the best of your capacity, with the time and resources you have. These resources may be physical, financial, or emotional. My two golden rules are very simple, know your subject, know your kids. That’s a very basic teaching philosophy. It’s seen me right so far, and I’m a decade into this crazy game we call education. 

Being an educator involves something more; being someone different outside of the classroom walls. Pastoral care for students has always been my forte, I seem to have an ability to intuit unrest. Many tears have been spilled in my presence over A level choices, health issues, relationship breakups, and other teenage mishaps. 

Introversion has helped me to develop as an educator, needing to process everything internally before speaking or writing about it has led to deeper understanding. I still get frustrated now,as an educator in a secondary environment, that I am not listened to. I don’t vocalise my thought process straight away like extroverts do during meetings, I have opinions and points of view to get across, but I prefer to do that in a smaller less-invasive setting. ‘The squeaky wheel gets the most grease’ is the saying my mum espouses to me. The efficient wheel bearings never get any credit, silently allowing those squeaky wheels to spin freely. 

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I’d still be an introvert though, quietly working away, in the background to make sure my students achieve the very best they can. I understand that I need extroverts in my professional life to really thrive, I just wish I had their self-belief and self-confidence. 

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