Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

How Do You Measure a Success That's Invisible?

Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

How Do You Measure a Success That's Invisible?

Article excerpt

My friends struggle to understand why I choose to spend my life in a classroom trying to instil a love of literature in teenagers. Sometimes it is easy to see their point.

We may find great satisfaction in our rapport with students or through presenting our subject in a variety of creative ways, but rarely can we look back at the end of the day, pinpoint something specific and say, "Look at what I achieved." I sometimes lie awake after a day's teaching and an evening's marking, wondering what on earth I have to show for all my hard work.

Recently, however, a couple of chance encounters with past pupils have meant that I have been able to drop off to sleep immediately, with no need to search my heart in order to justify my existence.

Two weeks ago on a train, I was immersed in my newspaper when a young woman leaned across the aisle and asked if I worked at the local college. I immediately remembered her as an A-level student I had taught about eight years ago. I had dim memories of having averted a crisis by convincing her that halfway through the course was not a good time to pack it all in and go travelling with her boyfriend. …

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