Quite frankly, there are days when I wish I had Stepford Kids. Take today, for instance. The kids did not make it out of their pyjamas. They spent more time than they should have on screens, and less time than they should have doing chores. On days like this, I wish someone could Stepford my kids: train them up to do as they are told. I wish there was someone on the other end of a camera, going ‘do this’ or ‘say that’, so that I could become a more efficient parent. And yet … and yet. Yesterday, we laughed and learned at the Zoo. Tomorrow one goes to a friend while the other gets a special day out with mum. Next week we will decamp to Portugal, where there will be all sorts of opportunities for quality time, and for downtime as well. The kids will spend half the time driving us mad, and the other half giving us joy. We will spend half the time driving the kids mad, and the other half giving them joy. There will be sunshine, and there will also be rain.
Such is life. Such are people. And such is teaching too.
About ten years ago, I was involved in a project with Teachers TV, where I was at the end of a secret camera, coaching teachers while they taught a real life class. Today I came across “I Am Not Tom Brady” by Amy Berard, on EduShyster’s blog. It explains how the ‘hidden camera’ technique is being used in the US. Please read it if you haven’t. Coaching via camera is a fascinating experience, but I felt it was a subtle, nuanced and difficult thing to do. I found it worked best for me to act as the camera for the teacher, spotting the issues that it’s impossible to see when you’re in the midst of 30 living, breathing human beings. The teachers who did it with me found it tricky too, and I don’t blame them. I didn’t feel that it was appropriate for me to script exactly what the teacher should say, or tell them how they should stand. I’m not here tomorrow; the teacher is. I did give strategies, maybe suggesting the teacher pause or use a time target. That stuff is useful when you’re in the thick of it. But I didn’t try to control another human being, because people are not robots.
I can no more precisely script what a teacher does, than I can turn my children into Stepford Kids. Well, I could, but why on earth would I want to? No one wants their life to be scripted for them; we all want to write our own scripts for ourselves. Some days we will get it right, and other days we will get it wrong. But I don’t get to have any rainbows, if I can’t put up with the rain.