This might sound like an odd question for a teacher but it’s one a head teacher I know used at every interview she ever gave.
At the heart of what she was getting at was the connection with young people and “If you can reach ’em, you can teach ’em.”
No one is likely to answer “No, I can’t stand them, I just need the money,” but it’s surprising how many teachers I’ve met who don’t ‘tolerate’ children that well!
If you teach then you’ve got to have enthusiasm for the people you are teaching. This relationship is so crucial and more important than your enthusiasm for your subject. Great teaching has to be personal and if there is no rapport, forget it.
So what’s the honest answer?
“Some more than others”.
It’s obviously hard to “love your pupils” because some will wind you up and grind you down. So it’s impossible to not have ‘favourites’ although no teacher will ever say that out loud because Melissa’s mum will try and get you sacked. The guardians of inclusivity and equality know you have your favourites but they expect you to keep this to yourself. But, everyone is liked and every teacher will try and connect with every child.
Great teachers enjoy the company of children because they like spending time with people full of beans and full of life. They understand that no one is ever the finished article and children are constantly growing and changing. The unpredicatble nature of the job is what makes it so exciting.
Learning isn’t a magical process. It’s a pretty simple one and normally the result of a healthy and positive relationship between teacher and pupil. If you don’t get on then learning is full of friction.
You’ve heard the following a thousand times before but it contains a lot of truth:
You might be the best qualified teacher in the school but if you can’t connect with pupils, so what, this expertise is pretty much lost. Children want to know that you are bothered about them. That matters more than anything else. They want to know that they personally count, they need you to champion their corner and they want to know that you are there for them. All this matters more than whether you have a Masters degree in Education.
Enthusiasm for children has the most powerful and positive impact on their learning. So do you have to like children to be a teacher? Really – do you need me to answer that.
Children don’t learn from teachers they don’t like and that’s why we have to bend over backwards to like and be liked.